September 24, 2020

BY KALI CAUDLE

It was raining eggs at the Cambridge campus Sept. 18, but it wasn’t a pre-Halloween prank. Instead, students were dropping eggs from the second storey as part of mechanical engineering technology professor Henry Kastner’s fifth annual Egg Drop Competition, for the problem- solving and design class. Ten groups competed, each receiving one egg, with one extra egg being dropped as a test.

“The purpose of the challenge is to evaluate the process of very few instructions, to how do we get something that protects the egg from breaking when it hits the floor,” Kastner said.

The students, in groups of three, were given the assignment on Sept. 11, and had one week to design, buy materials, test and construct their devices.

Kastner said in past years students had a wide variety of materials to choose from. Most groups used parachutes or helium balloons, so he eliminated those options.

This year the students were given a list of 10 materials to choose from including cotton balls, cardboard, masking tape, newspaper, Saran Wrap and straws. The groups had to choose a minimum of three materials. The devices had a size restriction, where no side could measure more than 30 centimetres.

The goal of the challenge was to have the lightest device successfully take the egg from the second storey to the atrium floor’s bull’s eye without cracking.

After successfully dropping the egg from the second floor, students were able to participate in a bonus round. The device was then dropped from the third floor. If successful groups received an additional five marks.

The challenge was worth 10 per cent of the student’s overall grade. The marking had two components – the competition and the analysis report, both worth 50 per cent each.
According to Graem Paterson, a second-year mechanical engineering technology – robotics and automation student, the two most popular materials used by the 10 groups were masking tape and cardboard followed by the second most popular items, cotton balls and straws.

Group 9, consisting of Tyler Cressman, John Balsillie and Brian Ferguson, won the competition portion, but the analysis report winner was yet to be determined at press time.

When building the protective devices, there’s something next year’s students should consider.

Dylan Wakutz, a second-year mechanical engineering technology – robotics and automation student, said to keep it simple.

“If you make it more complex, there’s more room for failure,” he said.

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