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ACCIS CDT eggheads go ballistic - Eggscape from New Yolk 2016

The Eggscape from New Yolk Challenge, complete with wall and continuous carbon fibre reinforced 3D printed plastic launcher Ben Woods

Some of the clever designs submitted Ben Woods

Dr Ben Woods (centre) and Dr Matt O’Donnell (third from left) with all the CDT student participants Ben Woods

28 October 2016

“In a world where the only rule is survival, those who survive will rule all”

On 12 October, five crack teams of PhD students from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science (ACCIS CDT) took part in the 2nd annual CDT egg challenge. Given the success of last year’s event, and the students’ uncanny ability to avoid utter destruction on the Highway to Shell, the event organisers knew they had to take the challenge to the next level. And that they did. Taking inspiration from an obscure 1980’s sci-fi movie, this year’s challenge envisioned a bleak future where our hero must break into a dangerous prison in order to rescue the Preggsident of the United States.

To get over the walls of this prison the students used a giant rubber band powered launcher. They were tasked with building a protective device out of dry spaghetti, lasagna sheets, three pieces of standard A4 paper, three rubber bands, and two sticks of hot glue. The hero “Kurt Rushell”, would then be loaded into the device and shot over the wall. The teams were graded on survival, mass, and accuracy – based on how close they were to a target on the far side of the wall.

In the face of overwhelming odds, the students showed steadfastness and bravery. Assembled from a mixture of CDT students spanning the 2012 through 2016 cohorts, the teams combined their engineering know-how and fundamental understanding of various disciplines including engineering mechanics, composite material properties (e.g. wheat starch fibre reinforced viscoelastic thermoplastic polymers), A-level physics, and dynamic energy absorption to create beautiful works of engineering art.

When it came time to get cracking though, some designs excelled and some were felled. Ultimately, simplicity was the name of the game, with the very light weight and rule-bending “scrunched up tape” impact absorber of the all-female team Keep Calm and Crack On taking first place. Team Breggxit came second with their spaghetti lattice, and team Shell’s Angels came third. Eggstreme Vetting and the Yolko Ovo Plastic Ovo Band both had clever designs, but lost out due to launch issues and a lack of team diversity (extra points were available for cross-cohort teams), respectively.

Overall the event was a smashing good time, and it served as a great excuse for the students to come out of their shells a bit and do some fun hands-on engineering. However, given that this year saw the event eggscalate to manufacturing balleggstic missiles, the prospects for next year’s event are even more frightening. One can’t help but wonder where this process of mutually assured egg-destruction will end up…

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