Monday, November 22, 2010

Fourth Annual SWE Extreme Gingerbread House Competition

The Brown University Society for Women Engineers in collaboration with the University's Engineers Without Borders student organization will be sponsoring its fourth annual "Extreme Gingerbread House Competition" on Friday, December 3, from 4:30 - 6:30 in the lobby of the Barus and Holley building on 184 Hope Street.

Event Description:
Twenty-two teams of 3-5 students and professors will be allowed to pre-register for the competition. Any additional teams that express interest will be placed on a waitlist in the event that a team does not arrive. If the team has not arrived within five minutes of the beginning of the event, their spot will be given to a team on the waitlist or a team that has shown up at the event without registering.

Each team will be supplied with two boxes of graham crackers, two Ziploc bags of royal icing, and a tray on which to construct their house. Additionally, all teams will be provided with an empty sandwich size Ziploc bag for taking the communal supplies. Foods such as candy canes, m&ms, teddy grahams, shredded coconut, etc., will be kept on a central table. At the start of the one hour time slot of building, one member of each team will be allowed to take the empty Ziploc bag to the communal table and fill the bag with whatever supplies they feel are most valuable for their team’s house. All food items will be provided by SWE at the event; teams are NOT allowed to bring any of their own food.

The teams will have one hour to construct their houses out of the provided food. Houses should be designed to follow the criteria listed below:
- The house must fit on the provided tray.
- House dimensions must exceed 6”x6”x6”.
- The house must be hollow.
- The maximum wall thickness is 1”.
- The house should be designed to withstand earthquakes.

Teams are allowed to bring any tools that they think will be helpful such as knives, drills, etc. Teams are responsible for bringing the necessary power connections/extension cords. If you plan on using tools, please ensure you know how to use them safely and plan on bring the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses. No chemicals can be used during the manufacturing of the house; the house and all its contents must remain edible at all times.

After exactly one hour, the teams will be forced to stop construction on their houses. The houses will initially be judged before a panel of three faculty judges (TBD) on (1) Attractiveness of the House [1-10 points] (2) Novel use of Building Materials [1-5 points] (3) Use of Available Space (ie decorations other than the house) [1-5 points]. Additionally, judges will have the option to select one “wildcard” house after viewing all the completed houses. Judges will award a bonus of three points to the house if they feel that one house was exceptional in a way that was not represented in the other scores; this is optional and at the judges discretion. The sum of these components will be used as the team’s aesthetic score.

The second portion of judging will be on the ability of the house to withstand a simulated earthquake. The tray will be attached to a shake table and cycled through a regimen moving from a low frequency to a high frequency. Time will start when the shake table is turned on, and will be stopped when part of the house falls off the main structure; this includes decorations attached to the house, but not “environmental decorations” that are simply on the tray.

After all the houses have been tested, the maximum amount of time on the shake table to make a gingerbread house break will be used to calculate the scores.

Total group scores will be calculated by combining the aesthetic score (out of 25 points) and the stability score (out of 50 points) for a total score out of 75 points. The team with the most points will be considered the winner. The team with the second highest number of points will be given second place and so forth. The top three teams will be awarded a prize.

EWB Collaboration
This year Engineers Without Borders is focusing on helping a Haitian orphanage that was damaged during the earthquake in January, 2010. There are three main projects that the team hopes to implement in Haiti during trips over winter, spring and summer breaks. The first of these projects is designing a more fuel efficient smoke-less stove to reduce wood use at the orphanage and also to protect the children and staff from upper respiratory disease. Secondly, Brown EWB is helping to install a sanitation system to prevent the spread of disease. Thirdly, they are planning on building a structure that can serve both as a school and as housing for the orphans, who are currently living in tents.

When registering, each team will be asked to pay a registration fee of $6.00 to enter the event. Additionally, they will be supplied with an information packet about the current situation in Haiti and how Brown EWB is helping and what everyone can do to help. Teams are of course able to donate more money to the organization if they feel compelled, but it will have no influence on their supplies etc.

At the event, EWB will also have a table with information on the current situation in Haiti, what their project entails and what they need to implement these designs. This will also be an area where other visitors will be able to learn more about the program and donate if they wish.

All proceeds from the event will go to Brown University Engineers Without Borders.