National Engineers' Week Student Competitions

UAA Campus, Anchorage, AK

Saturday February 18, 2012; 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Awards Ceremony at 3:00 PM

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Tower Strength Competition

Last edited 1/26/2012


Location: UAA Engineering Building Atrium & Soils Lab

Objective

Design and build a tower using wood and glue which will support the greatest weight while meeting the required specifications. The winning tower assembly will be the one that has the highest strength to mass ratio (i.e., the maximum load held divided by the contest mass of the tower).

Specifications

  1. Height: The assembly must be 50 cm (+ 1.0 cm) tall.

  2. Width: The tower assembly must be able to pass through a cylinder with an interior diameter of 15 cm. The base must be of sufficient width so that the structure is free standing when set on a table top. A 2.54 cm diameter dowel must be able to pass through the structure along the longitudinal axis. 

  3. Shape: Any shape can be submitted, as long as it meets the height and width specifications.

  4. The tower must not contain a "soft story" designed to collapse before the main structure is engaged.  The peak load on the structure will be taken as the maximum load supported by the structure within the stroke capabilities (assume a maximum stroke of 10cm) of the testing machine without changing the testing machine's setup. 

  5. Mass: The assembly should be at or below 100 grams. Towers more than 100 grams will be penalized by considering the tower to have a mass of 100 grams + (actual mass - 100 grams)1.5.

  6. Materials: Wood is to be any commercially available wood.  This means "raw" wood.  No manufactured wood products like paper, cardboard, particle board, etc...

  7. Glue is to be any commercially available glue. Hardened glue by itself may not be used as a structural member.

  8. Loading: The tower will be tested at the UAA School of Engineering in a hydraulic press equipped with compression heads that are relatively smooth and which are 6 inches in diameter.  As stated above, the peak load on the structure will be taken as the maximum load supported by the structure within the stroke capabilities (assume a maximum stroke of 10cm) of the testing machine without changing the testing machine's setup.  Testing may also stop when a tower, in the opinion of the judges, has obviously reached its peak load.   Note that the data acquisition system reads the applied load in increments of approximately 1.3 kgf (13 N or 3 lbs).