If they come, they will build

OEDK hosts weekly innovation challenge for fun, prizes

Innovation is serious business, but sometimes it’s good to have a little fun. And it’s nice to win a prize, too.

The George R. Brown School of Engineering’s Innovate Weekly Challenges are an “Iron Chef” for engineers (or wannabes) who gather at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen classroom on Fridays at noon for a test of their creativity and the chance to win prizes.

Sign-up begins at 11:50 a.m. — there is no advance registration — and up to 45 participants are placed in teams of three. At the appointed hour, a staff member reveals the week’s challenge with a flourish and the teams race to assemble the provided components into a finished product. In the final minutes of the hourlong event, the teams are judged and the winners split $300 in gift cards.

For the semester’s sixth challenge Feb. 15, teams used four copies of the Rice Thresher, a yard of masking tape and a piece of cardboard to build a scaffold strong enough to hold as many reams of paper and full bottles of water as possible. Engineering students Stephen Yan, James Lockard and Robert Patterson were the champions; see their feat of strength in the video above by Rice producer Brandon Martin.

In previous challenges, participants built tops, assembled puzzles from memory, designed icons, brainstormed uses for common items like paperclips and potatoes and built houses of cards with one arm immobilized.

There will be no challenge during spring break, but the program resumes March 8. An invitation-only All-Star Challenge will wrap the program April 19. The competition is open to all Rice students, faculty and staff. For information, visit http://oedk.rice.edu/innovate.


About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.