Project (SP11)

August 27th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

SP ’11 Project Description

Your team is tasked with building a system (the device) that takes energy from a fixed source (the tower) and then supplies this energy to move an object as far as possible in a specified direction.


  • No net external energy may be used to move the object, all energy used to move the object must originate with the energy stored in the tower
  • Testing will nominally occur at an outside location on campus, with a slight up-hill grade. Unless otherwise noted, this location will be the empty field south-west of the Puck bordered by Schrenk and Toomey Halls and the Rolla building. The test direction will be North.
  • Your team is at the mercy of environmental conditions during testing
  • All aspects of your team’s design must be safe, and will be audited by your instructors
  • The device does not need to be automated, external control can be used
  • During testing, no team member (or proxy) may be closer than 24″ to the testing area
  • Your team has three minutes total to test your device, there may be multiple attempts during this period

The Tower (schematic)

The Testing Area (image from Google Maps)

Device Specifications

  • The tower will store approximately 50J of energy (5kg weight elevated slightly higher than 1m)
  • The tower is currently in the IDE20 shop, G3 IDE
  • The device must fit completely within a 48” X 48” rectangle (the testing area)
  • The 48″x48″ rectangle will be fixed and marked out on the concrete sidewalk on the southern side of the testing area
  • Your team will be responsible for transporting and storing the device, design it accordingly

Object Specifications

  • The object must have a final resting mass greater than 50g and less than 1kg, measured via weight using 9.81m/s^2 as the conversion factor
  • Multiple objects may be moved during each attempt
  • Different objects may be used during one testing session
  • The device and object may be the same physical artifact
  • The object must start at a height beneath the top of the tower (to ensure that the object’s potential energy does not significantly affect its motion)

Testing Sequence

  • Your team’s object is weighed, placed in test area
  • The 3 minute timer starts
  • The tower weight is raised and secured
  • Your team’s device is connected to the tower and the object is placed in/on the device
  • All team members leave the test area
  • The tower weight is released by your team
  • Your team’s device moves the object (energy from the tower may be converted and stored within the device)
  • A team member must locate the object and stand at its final resting location
  • Distance to the object will be measured
  • Your team may make as many attempts as possible in the 3 minute timed period
  • Your team may directly interact with the device (i.e. touch) between attempts as long as the tower weight is in the lowered position and no energy is stored in the device
  • After the three minute timed period is up, your team must dissemble/remove your device from the testing area within 30s
  • Only distance measurement and project removal may occur after the 3 minute timer expires


Your project will be graded based on the following criteria:

  • Satisfaction of all design requirements/constraints
  • Maximum resting distance of object (measured along a pre-defined direction)

Devices meeting minimum functionality requirements will be given a 70% grade. Minimum functionality is defined as:

  • Meeting all design requirements/constraints
  • Projects object at least 10m

Grades between 70% and 100% will be awarded based on a linear weight of object distance between 10m and the farthest moved object between all sections of IDE20. Outliers may be removed from this grade weighting. These rules may be amended by the instructors at any time. Rule changes will be announced in the lecture and posted here.

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