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Marble Machine Challenge—2016 Fluor Engineering 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.

Figure 1. A few examples of the marble sorting machines built during the 2016 Fluor Engineering Challenge.

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

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, 2017, and 2018 challenges and come back early next year to find out about the 2019 Fluor Engineering Challenge!

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.

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