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Take the Fluor Engineering Challenge!

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
International
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
thebom.com139715
Lejit Pandaz15-179655
Knukelés13-149645
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.

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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: