IET Solent Network Young Professionals team leader Joe Dunn talks about this year’s Great Egg Race competitions…
From 1979 to 1986 the BBC broadcast a science and engineering television show called The Great Egg Race in which teams competed to construct mechanical creations from limited resources in an attempt to solve an engineering challenge. Initially these challenges were to transport or catapult an egg safely over as great a distance as possible.
33 years later, the IET Solent Network Young Professionals (YP) team still organises and runs Great Egg Race engineering competitions as part of the Solent Local Network (LN) programme of events.
These competitions are held annually at each of the three local universities - the University of Portsmouth, the University of Southampton, and Southampton Solent University. Competitors are arranged into a maximum of eight teams of six and given a time limit of just two hours to design, build and test devices capable of achieving a common goal using the materials provided.
Once the time limit has been reached, ready or not, each team in turn demonstrates their contraption and describes their design to the other competitors and a panel of judges who have been observing throughout.
Sometimes the demonstration is successful, other times less so! However the judges also take into account the whole lifecycle of design, implementation and testing as well as the team-working abilities displayed, meaning that the winning team is not always one that has successfully achieved the end goal…
Each year a new challenge is set, and each year sees more elaborate contraptions unleashed. The materials provided include one or two electric motors with batteries, rubber bands, tape, thread, string, wooden dowels, balsa wood, card, plastic cups, pins, thread bobbins and rubber grommets.
The challenge could be to transport the egg safely across a void from one table to another, or to raise it from the ground, cross the length of a table unaided, and safely lower it on the other side. Points are deducted as penalties for manual intervention or for breaking an egg, which some years are hard-boiled, some years not.
The events are always free to attend and are open to YPs and members of the public as well as the university students, providing a great networking opportunity. In the past we have seen teams from BAE Systems, NATS, Rolls Royce, Siemens and the Royal Navy to name but a few compete against the students… and they don’t necessarily win!
For more information on the Great Egg Races please visit the IET Solent network community page or contact Joe via email.