This annual competition is open to all international high school students between the ages of 14–17, outside Australia and New Zealand.
Students work in teams and put their knowledge and skills in maths, science, design and engineering to the test in the creation of a ‘spaghetti machine’ — the Italian term for an overly complex machine or device that is used to perform a relatively simple task.
Now redesigned for students to compete in their teams physically distanced.
To be the first to hear when registrations open for the 2023 contest, submit an expression of interest now!
Find out when registrations open and close, when the task will be announced, and the date of the contest.Find out more
Find out the task for the contest. See the list of schools competing in this year’s contest.Find out more
Information on how to design your machine, how the contest is judged and what prizes you can win.Find out more
Engineering and spaghetti
So, given that engineering is all about finding the most practical and efficient way to solve a problem, why are we trying to design and build a machine that’s overly complex and very inefficient?
The answer is simply this – design a machine that will perform the set task, whilst also being entertaining and amazing to watch! You will still be able to demonstrate many of the key principles of engineering during this task, including design, prototyping, construction, testing, and team and project management. There is also the opportunity to incorporate elements from a wide range of engineering disciplines, such as structural, electrical and electronic, mechanical, and chemical engineering!
Rube Goldberg and ‘The Self-Operating Napkin’…
The US inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg was a master of Spaghetti Machine ideas, so much so that they are sometimes also known as ‘Rube Goldberg machines’.
Registrations for the 2023 contest will open soon! Please submit an expression of interest and we will let you know when registrations open.
- Read the Contest rules.
- Check out the Contest schedule so that you know what’s happening when.
- Ensure you’ve got the people, space, time, and financial resources (if required) to make your participation in the contest viable.
There’s plenty of competition for places, so get organised and stand by for the opening time for registrations! If you’ve got any questions in the meantime please feel free to contact us.
If you have any questions regarding the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest International, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2022 contest winner
Congratulations to Team 90% Crust from Sekolah Lentera Indonesia!
We would also like to say thank you to all the teams that submitted their entries. We loved looking at your amazing spaghetti machine creations!
See you all again next year!
Q & As
What do you need to create a spaghetti machine?
- a team that’s prepared and able to coordinate working in different places
- a space that you can build your machine in (and preferably one that allows you to leave it set up while you work on it)
- access to some basic tools and equipment to build with
- enough time set aside to work on it
- a way to communicate with your team members
The team will also need a teacher or staff member from the school to act as the supervisor for the project.
Finally, you’ll need plenty of imagination, creativity, and a willingness to experiment and improvise in order to come up with solutions!
How do we start creating a spaghetti machine?
Before you get down to hammering things together it’s probably a good idea to do a bit of research into other types of machines that have been created (check out our Video gallery) and to have a chat about what you want to do, and what you think you can manage. You’ll also want to think about what your resources are (people, space, equipment, time, skills, etc …) and how to organise yourselves to make best use of them. This might include allocating tasks for individual members, a schedule for what needs to be done by when (very important!), and how you want to keep track of who’s working on what.
What sort of materials will my team need?
The great thing about spaghetti machines is that they can be made from just about anything. Wood, old bits of metal or plastic, toys, recycled gadgets or machine parts, everyday household items … you name it. We’re interested in seeing how inventive you can be, including your ability to recycle or re-purpose existing objects or materials for your design. Just keep in mind that whatever you use needs to be safe (for you to work with and for spectators to look at).
What is the Grand Prize?
Winners will receive a custom-made hamper sent to the school! The winning school will also participate in a personalised workshop delivered by University of Melbourne academics. More detail on this once the winners are announced! Contact us on email@example.com should you have any questions.
Am I eligible to register?
- The contest is only open to international students. Australian and New Zealand nationals and permanent residents are not eligible to participate.
- The minimum number of team members is 3 and the maximum is 4 (excluding the team supervisor).
- In order to register all teams must have a nominated staff member from the school able to act as the team supervisor.
- Teams taking part in the Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest International agree to enter at their own risk. The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT) acts as coordinator and promoter for this event, and will not be liable for any loss, damage, expense or injury suffered by teams in connection with the contest, except for liability that cannot be legally excluded (in which the FEIT’s liability is limited to the maximum extent permitted by Australian law).
- The Trinity College Young Leaders Program is open to students aged 14–17 years and prize winners must be under 18 years of age at the time of attendance.
Is there a registration fee?
- There is no registration fee for school teams wishing to take part in the contest, however please bear in mind that incidental costs to the team/school may arise (materials, transport, etc,) depending on your team and your project needs.
How will I gain more points?
- Higher points will be awarded to schools who demonstrate recycled or repurposed parts and materials.
How will my information be handled?
As contest coordinator and promoter, the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology will treat all personal information obtained through the contest in accordance with the Privacy Act 1998 (Cth). Teams consent to the publication of their names and school of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology website, in the course of reporting on, or promoting, this year’s contest now and in the future.
What are the terms and conditions of the prize?
- Judging Details and Winner. The Winner will be determined from the valid Competition entries received by the University in accordance with the Judging Details.
- Prize. The Prize will be awarded as specified in the Schedule. The Prize values are the recommended retail value as provided by the relevant supplier, are in Australian dollars, are correct as at the time of the commencement of the Competition Period and are inclusive of all taxes. The Winner must claim the Prize in accordance with Claim Prize. Please allow at least 28 days from the date of notification for the delivery of the Prize. Transport to claim the prize is not part of the prize and is the sole responsibility of the Winner. The Prize cannot be exchanged or redeemed for other goods, services, cash or credit. If, for some reason the Prize is unavailable, the University reserves the right to substitute the Prize for a prize of equal or greater value.
- Winner Notification. The Winner will be notified in accordance with Winner Notification.
- Claim Prize. If the Winner does not comply with these Terms and/or does not claim the Prize in accordance with Claim Prize, the University reserves the right to select a replacement winner from the remaining valid entries in accordance with clause 1 above.
- Replacement Winner. If a winner re-selection is required, the selection of the replacement winner will be conducted by the University in accordance with Replacement Winner. The Replacement Winner will be notified in accordance with Replacement Winner Notification. The Replacement Winner must claim the Prize in accordance with Replacement Winner Claim Prize.
- The Winner is not an agent of The University of Melbourne and must not convey that impression to anyone.
- The result of the Competition is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
- The University of Melbourne/ The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology has the right to amend the date of the online/physical workshop.
Check out this gallery of videos showing machines we think are pretty awesome. Some are instructional, some are inspirational, and some are just plain funny.