A challenge for the ages

Maryann Kopp

The objective for the Bakersfield College Engineers’ Club’s 22nd Annual Design Challenge, Can-undrum, was “to design and construct a device that will maneuver a soda can into a square slot while participating in a head-to-head competition.”

At the East Hill’s Mall food court on Feb. 24, several entrants of all ages competed in their respective divisions for a chance to win trophies and cash prizes.

There were first and second places per division, and the divisions were arranged as follows: Junior High, High School, College and Open/Professional.

The rules were the same for all divisions regarding the weight of each device, the amount of set-up time allowed, the fact that each device had to be “activated by cutting a string” and could not be attached to the surface of the table, or “Pit,” to name a few.

A very notable variance, however, was in the size of the cans per division.

The Junior High Division had to move a 5.5 fluid ounce V8 juice can, while the High School Division had to move an 8 fluid ounce Diet Coke, and the College and Open Divisions had to move a 12 fluid ounce Diet Coke. All cans were full.

Devices of all kinds graced the 4’x8’x5/8″ plywood and masonite table, all intent on placing their soda can into the 3.25-inch square slot (which was cut in the center of the table), and doing so before their opponent could.

An impressive array of design was present, as all devices were to be constructed from scratch.

While many were created to release a sort of arm that would launch itself towards the can upon cutting the string, there were also others that were designed to resemble cars.

When Junior High Division winner Elaine Halbur was asked what inspired her to construct her winning device, she said that she wanted to make something that could work like a slingshot.

She said that she was very happy that she won, and that she had been working on her first place device since about November or December of 2006.

As each design was different, so was the amount of time the participants spent constructing and testing their mechanisms.

Dan Halbur took first place in the Open/Professional Division with “Dynamite.” He spent about three hours designing, six hours of building, and 15 hours of testing his winning contraption.

The winner for both first and second place in the Junior High Division was Elaine Halbur of Holy Family, which is a home school.

The first place winner in the High School Division was Sarah Schale of Foothill High School. The second place winner was Jose Montes of Foothill High School.

Roman Terrazas, Josh Bailey, and Roshani Patel of Bakersfield College took first place in the College Division.

Randall Cass and Nathan Hobbs, also representing BC, placed second.

In the Open/Professional Division, Dan Halbur placed first and Richard Meyer came in second.

The Bakersfield College Engineers’ Club also awarded additional prizes. David Heisler of Foothill High School won for Superior Engineering Design – Amateur.

Richard Meyer was awarded for Superior Engineering Design – Professional. To be presented with these awards, the competitors’ devices had to display an “ingenious design.”

The Halbur family received an award for Most Artistic entries. Dan Halbur also won the Rube Goldberg, which was “presented to the most over-complicated design.”

Finally, an award was given for Engineering School of the Year, which only the school with the most entries (BC excluded) could take home. Foothill High School won this category.