FAQs: Engineering Machine Design Contest

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enter?

Teams of up to four students from any conventional high schools, charter schools, technical schools and home schools may participate. If necessary, the team may be made by combining students across multiple charters and/or home schools.

Teams will enter in either the Junior Division (6th-8th grade) or the Senior Division (9th-12th grade). Each division will be judged separately following the same process. If a single team has students spanning both grade divisions than that team shall enter the Senior Division.

How many students can be on a team?

Any number of students may work on the machine before the contest. However, at the contest, only four students can represent the machine and those students will be eligible for individual prizes. See rule 3 on page 9 of the Handbook for more details.

What does “WEIGH IT!” mean?

The machine task is to “WEIGH IT!”. The machine should weigh something, the “it” is up to the team. Page 19 of the Handbook outlines the points associated with the successful completion of the task.

Is there a machine theme?

Teams can be creative in designing a theme for their machine. Page 19 of the Handbook outlines the points associated with the incorporation of a centralized theme within the machine.

What does the Conceptual Design Proposal form require?

The  2018 Conceptual Design Form is accessible HERE. The form includes general information about the team and a written explanation and drawing for the team’s idea for their machine. An explanation of the form is on page 6 of the Handbook and a list of the information asked on the conceptual design form is on page 13.

Will my machine be placed on a table or the floor at the contest?

At the contest, ALL machines are to be placed on a table that will be provided. The height of the table will be approximately 30″. This height is not included in the maximum height of 5′ for your machine. (Page 4 of Handbook)

Will electricity be available for my machine?

At the contest, the use of plug-in electrical equipment is not permitted. You are encouraged to use as many mechanical principles in your design as possible. The use of batteries is allowed; however, relying completely on mechanical motion rather than battery-powered motion will result in more points. (Page 5 of Handbook)

Can more than one team per school compete?

Yes! There is no limitation on the number of teams per school. However, per Rule #3 on page 9 of the Handbook, only one team per school can compete in the final round of the contest, unless there are not enough schools to fill available slots. 

Can the registration fee be paid with a school PO?

Yes! When finishing the registration process simply choose the Third Party Payer option instead of paying by Credit Card.

What are tips for first-time teams?

1. Be aware of all of the points available and deadlines. Read the Handbook carefully.

2. Don’t make the judges have to interpret if you did certain things. Our judges are volunteers. Some are technical, some are not. Keep that in mind as you prepare your presentation.

3. You may incorporate a clever story or theme to explain what is going to happen with your machine. Remember to work as a team and have fun with it!

4. In the design process, if possible, try to design so the actions are visible and not hidden behind other parts of the mechanism. This helps with interpretation for the judges.

5. Like any machine, simplicity leads to repeatability. Some ideas are really cool but they become so complex that it is difficult to repeat the runs successfully. Be creative and let your imagination lead you!

Other questions?

Contact Melissa Huppert (melissa.huppert@mnsu.edu | (507) 389-2110).