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Take the Fluor Engineering Challenge!

Build a Model of a Water Flow System for a Chance to Win Money for Your School or Organization!

Use limited materials to build a masterful water flow system inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces, and you might find yourself at the top of the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge Score Board! Plus, your team's entry might win one of ten $1,000 USD prizes from Fluor for your school or afterschool program!

Fluor Challenge 2017 home image

Enter the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge for K-12 Students

Who can enter? The 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge is open to K-12 students around the world. Students can enter individually or as teams of up to four students. One entry per team. There is no limit to the number of teams that can enter per school or afterschool program. Afterschool programs include any nonprofit organization which serves students including, but not limited to, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, YMCA, and Boys and Girls Clubs. Students may participate on more than one team, but must use different designs on each team.

What do I do? Build a model of a terraced water flow system from a limited list of allowable materials (disposable cups, popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and tape) before the March 17, 2017 deadline. Then place 10 boyant beads in the highest layer and pour in up to a liter of water. The more beads that make it through each terraced layer and collect in the bottom, the higher the score! More details about building your rice terrace model, the materials limitations, testing, and scoring can be found in the Follow the Flow project at Science Buddies.

Where is the challenge happening? Students can do this challenge anywhere! The 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge is designed as a fun hands-on engineering project to do at home, in the classroom, or during an afterschool program.

When is the challenge taking place? Students may build and test their water flow models anytime between February 19 and March 17, 2017. All entries are due by midnight Pacific Time (GMT-8).

Why should I enter? Matching wits against engineers from 2,000 years ago to see if you can build a water-flow model as good as their rice terraces is fun! Plus, there are bragging rights up for grabs. We will be posting top scores on our 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge score board. Students from anywhere in the world, regardless of location, are eligible to participate in the competition to get thier team name on the score board by completing the challenge and submitting their scores! Additionally, Fluor will reward ten teams, drawn at random from the geographic locations listed below, with a $1,000 USD check for their school or afterschool program! Everyone in the eligible locations who follows the entry rules and submission process will be entered in this random drawing. You give your school or afterschool program the chance to win $1,000 USD just by letting us know you took the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge, built and tested a water flow system, and tried your best!

Eligible Locations* Type of Prize Quantity
to be
Houston, TX Random Entry Drawing 1
Greenville, SC Random Entry Drawing 1
Orange County, CA Random Entry Drawing 1
Calgary, Alberta Random Entry Drawing 1
United States (including Puerto Rico) Random Entry Drawing 3
Argentina; Australia; Canada; China; India;
Kazakhstan; Peru; Philippines;
Poland; South Africa; The Netherlands;
United Kingdom
Random Entry Drawing 3
*Students from countries/locations not listed above are eligible to compete in the Fluor Challenge
and submit results for the official score board, but are not eligible for the Fluor prizes.

Who is eligible for the $1,000 USD prizes? To qualify to receive a $1,000 USD prize, an organization must be classified as a U.S. 501(c)3 public charity, a public or private primary or secondary school, or international nonprofit, non-government charity with a valid registration number. The organization must be located in one of the geographic regions listed above. An organization may have multiple teams entered in the 2017 Fluor Challenge, thus increasing the odds of winning, but may only win a total of one grant.

How do I enter? To enter the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge, build a model of the Banaue Rice Terraces following all the materials and testing limitations set out in the Follow the Flow project. Use the paper scoring sheet or Excel score sheet to calculate your 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge official score. Then enter all of the information listed below in our web-based submission form by midnight Pacific Time (GMT-8) March 17, 2017. This year's entry form is newly updated to make entering scores from many teams simple, and make posting your submission to social media a snap.

  • Team name (team names must be in good taste)
  • Name of your school or organization
  • Number of students on the team (teams may range from 1-4 students)
  • Age(s) of the student(s)
  • Gender(s) of the student(s)
  • City and postal zip code where team members live or your school or organization is located
  • Two photos of the team's model, an overview and a close-up next to a ruler (required)
  • Team's final score

Be sure your entry contains all information listed above and follows all rules of the challenge. Only complete entries from the eligible locations will be entered in the random drawings for the $1,000 USD prizes. All complete submissions will be considered for the official 2017 Fluor Challenge score board.

Who do I contact if I have questions? If you have questions about how to make or score your water flow model, please read our Follow the Flow FAQ. Fluor has also created an implementers' toolkit for school and organization leaders to help run the challenge smoothly. If your question is still unanswered or if you have a question about the structure of the 2017 Fluor Challenge please e-mail us at fluorchallenge@sciencebuddies.org.

Meet the Team of Fluor Engineers Who Came Up With the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge

This team of Fluor engineers from Manilla in the Philippines came up with the concept for the 2017 Fluor Engineering Challenge.
Fluor employees who came up with this year's challenge include structural engineers Christopher Reybuenan (left) and Benson Angeles (right), & civil engineer Leann Ababon-Sanggalang.

It is Fluor's tradition to hold an internal Friendly Competition between its engineers every year. The winning team gets bragging rights, ownership of the official trophy for the year, and the honor of devising the next challenge. When Team Wabu, pictured, from Fluor's Manilla office in the Philippines won, they knew what they wanted to do next:

"The team came up with an idea [to] showcase something related to the abundant Filipino heritage, hence, the Banaue Rice Terraces, a man-made, historical structure that the Philippines is very proud of. With this challenge, the team hopes that it can stir up the minds of fellow engineers to come up with their best designs and at the same time have fun."

– Leann, Benson, and Christopher, members of Team Wabu    

With the help of three other colleagues from the Manilla office, the engineers on Team Wabu spent many hours perfecting the challenge details. Team Wabu found that there was one major similarity between their everyday engineering jobs, winning the Friendly Competition, and designing the next one—engineering works best as a team effort! The result of their team effort was a rousing competition between fellow Fluor engineers. Now it is your turn to gather your team, collaborate, and have fun!

Fluor is a registered service mark of Fluor Corporation. All rights reserved.

Marble Machine Challenge—Check Out the Drawing Winners and High Scorers!

The 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge, held February 11 – March 11, 2016, asked students to design marble machines capable of sorting a mixture of 6 mm and 12 mm spheres into separate cups. With over 600 entries worked on by more than 1700 students, the range of solutions was enormous! We were impressed by the ingenuity and perseverance students demonstrated, and enjoyed seeing each and every entry. Figure 1 shows just a small sample of the hundreds of marble sorting machines students created.

All eligible team entries were placed into random prize drawings based on their geographic location. Congratulations to the ten winning teams listed in Table 1 whose names were drawn from the eligible pools! Each of these teams earned $1,000 USD from Fluor for their school or afterschool program.

Team School / Program
Houston, TX
The Dragons Attack Poverty in Richmond, TX
Greenville, SC
MCK Mauldin High School in Greenville, SC
Orange County, CA
Peanut Butter and Jelly Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, CA
Calgary, Alberta
The Happy Stallions Notre Dame High School in Calgary, Canada
United States (including Puerto Rico)
Legends Los Alisos Intermediate in Mission Viejo, CA
The Undecided Coppell Middle School North in Coppell, TX
Indian Creek A Team Indian Creek High School in Wintersville, OH
Bobbington Traditional Learning Academy in Delta, BC, Canada
The Cercons TBD
Vicfia Fluor TeamTMS School in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada
Table 1. Drawing winners of the 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge
Fluor Challenge 2016 final collage
Figure 1. A few examples of the marble sorting machines built during the 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge.

Continue to Challenge Yourself

Even though the 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge is over, the Marble Machine Challenge remains available for all students to try their hands at. Simply follow the online instructions to gather materials, design, build and test your version of a marble sorting machine.

Curious about how your machine stacks up to entries from the 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge? Figure 2 shows the distribution of scores across all entries received. The highest peak in the graph corresponds to the 17% of entries that scored less than 500 points. In general, most entries scored 4580 points or less. The top ten highest scores are listed in Table 2. No matter what your score, a marble machine that is built of the limited materials allowed and can successfully sort even some of the spheres is something to be proud of!

If you are looking for even more fun engineering challenges, check out the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge and come back in February of 2017 for the next competition!

Fluor Challenge 2016 final distribution
Figure 2. 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge score distribution.
Top Marble Machine Scores
Team Age(s) Score
Christopher's Clemson Sorters 169880
ABET 189785
Lejit Pandaz15-179655
Angelica Awesomeness 13 9590
The Rebels 12-149530
DanRich Duo159515
CNT 139495
Rutabaga 159470
Orange Extreme 9-119460
Table 2. 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge top scores.

Fluor is a registered service mark of Fluor Corporation. All rights reserved.

Balloon-Powered Car Challenge—Check out the Winners and High Scorers!

Designed to help students experience how real-life engineers design solutions and to show students first-hand how fun engineering can be, the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge asked students to design, build, and test their own balloon-powered cars using limited materials. Science Buddies and Fluor were thrilled to see the huge range of creative solutions engineered by K-12 students around the world in response to the challenge. Figure 1 shows a small sampling of the hundreds of balloon-car photos we received. Congratulations to the team from Coppell Middle School East in Coppell, Texas, whose team entry won the random drawing for the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge and earned $1,500 USD from Flour for their school!

Fluor offered additional prizes in each of four locations (Canada, Orange County, Houston, and Greenville). More information about those winners and photos of their balloon-cars can be seen here.

Fluor 2015 landing image 2 rows
Figure 1. 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge balloon-car samples.

Continue to Challenge Yourself

Even though the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge is over, the Balloon-Powered Car Challenge remains available for all students to try their hands at. Simply follow the online instructions to gather materials, design, build and test your version of a balloon-powered car.

Curious about how your car stacks up to entries from the 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge? Figure 2 shows the distribution of scores across all entries received. The highest peak in the graph corresponds to the 20% of entries which scored between 4001 and 5000 points. In general, most entries (61% to be exact) scored 6000 or less points. The top ten highest scores are listed in Table 1. No matter what your score, a balloon car that can successfully roll along is worth a pat on the back!

Fluor Challenge 2015 scores
Figure 2. 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge score distribution.
Top Ten Balloon-Car Scores
Team Name Student Age(s) Score
TESLA 2015 14 34,000
N/A 14-16 19,420
Anonymous 14 17,340
GTR 12-13 15,500
High Speed 15-16 13,340
David Crockett Middle School 11-14 12,290
Rollin' 15 11,190
Naomi 11 10,460
The Schilling Shuttle 11 10,420
The Jensen Jalopy 11 10,090

Table 1. 2015 Fluor Engineering Challenge top ten scores.

How the Annual Fluor Engineering Challenge Started

Fluor submission boys girls doing challenge

Fluor engineers design and build some of the world's toughest projects, ranging from Shell's Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) Quest project to the CALTRANS San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Construction project. For a bit of company fun and friendly competition, Fluor engineers challenge each other every year in a global, company-wide engineering competition. Teams of Fluor engineers have been going head to head in yearly competitions for decades, and each year more than 500 engineers around the world participate in the company challenge.

In 2015 Fluor decided to bring the spirit of their yearly employee competition to students. As part of their celebration of Engineers Week, Fluor launched the first annual student-centered Fluor Engineering Challenge to inspire students K-12 to get hands-on with a fun engineering activity during Engineers Week (February 22-28, 2015). With the help of Science Buddies, Fluor's "Moving on the Moon" internal engineering challenge was transformed into an engaging and student-friendly hands-on engineering project that could be easily introduced in a classroom or afterschool program—or done at home. With cash prizes and bragging rights on the line, more than 350 teams stepped up to the plate from around the world. What came next was amazing to watch: a parade of engineering solutions, innovation, and diverse thinking from students focused on creating their own balloon-powered cars with limited materials. Teachers and students alike wrote in to tell us how much fun they had and how eager they were for more challenges:

It really was just an awesome event. I never expected that it would generate so much buzz among our student body and school community. The kids are so excited to participate in the event again next year. They can't wait to hear what is announced as next year's challenge.

–Timothy Mielke, 5th Grade Teacher, Burlington, WI   

Ongoing Vision for the Fluor Engineering Challenge

The annual Fluor Engineering Challenge is designed to help students experience how real-life engineers design solutions and to show students first-hand how fun engineering can be. Every year, in partnership with Science Buddies, Fluor transforms one of its own internal employee engineering challenges into a student-centric challenge. The challenge is launched in time for Engineers Week so that teachers and afterschool organizations can use the challenge with their students. The challenge is open to all students around the globe with prizes awarded in a more limited geography. At the end of the approximately four week challenge window the winners and top-scorers are announced and prizes are distributed. The challenge itself lives on though! Previous challenges can be accessed at any time through the Science Buddies website. Individual students and groups are invited to try the previous challenges any time they want — students can measure how their solution stacks up to others students' by calculating their own score and comparing it to that of teams who competed during the challenge window. We invite everyone to try their hand at these Fluor Engineering Challenges: