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 if need be.

This contest is coordinated by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology.

To be notified as soon as 2021 registrations are open, submit an expression of interest:

Expression of interest

Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest 2020

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’.

One such concept by Goldberg was ’The Self-Operating Napkin’ — activated when the soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C) which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and lights automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.