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Need help on an engineering project

515 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  George Porter
I always read this forum so I decided to make my first post having nothing to do with the 450r lol. Anyhow, I have this engineering project, which to me seems impossible. We have to build a vertical load bearing structure out of straws, tape, and glue. However, we cannot use more than 25 straws and the tape and glue can only be used at joints and not for structural purposes. The structure must also be 24in tall and support an 8lb book for 10 seconds and stand on its own. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Sounds pretty fun... I'd start by building some colums (to get the 24") by sticking straws together... Then use them to build either a cylinder or octagonal structure. I think the extra straw is for internal bracing (or maybe the ends of the individual colums if they exceed 24"). It will be trial and error, use the exercise to learn.
Think triangles....
wolfpack is right. trial and error. your first couple tries will probably fail. like wolfpack mentioned, start with the vertical columns. they will be what support all the weight of the book. you will want to make sure you keep the columns as vertical and straight as possible. they will most likely fail if you have them at angles or your joints are not straight. you may have to tie your columns together with other horizontal straws (frame braces) to keep them straight and vertical. sounds fun. good luck!!
Don't make the stucture any taller than you have to. Keep it at the 24" mark. Use the excess straws to brace. Thank of it like an upside down bridge. I loved problems like this when I was in engineering. The good ol days now out in the real world not nearly as much fun. The projects actually effect others instead just getting a grade. Have fun with this one.
You might even be able to build a truss structure big enough using Clutch's triangles. use small peices of straws folded up to make your joints and then glue and tape to join the triangles. Might have to get some straws now and see how it
ohh sounds like i could have some fun with this!

yea, id say use large triangle's on the outer walls for stability.

but for the height, think of scaffolding(spelling?).
one of the things you could do to connect the straws together (end to end) is to make some dowels out of the tape by rolling it up and then put a little glue on there and press the ends of the straws over the dowels and butt the straws together. i started making straw models in cad just for fun after i replied to this post but i didn't get to finish. had to head out into the field. lol!!! being a student was so much more fun than the real world.
Just my idea, take straws to make the 24" height. Joint them together with the tape and glue like mentioned. Make 3 columns, possible more if you have extra straws at the end, 24" high. Arrange them in a triangle pattern(one at each corner) and then fold the remaing straws in a triangular shape to brace the columns from bowing outwards. Hopefully that came out the way I meant it.

Do you know the demensions of the 8 pound block?
Thanks for all the replies guys'. I think the dimensions of the book are somewhere around 7.5in x 12 in. It's a short, very thick book.
I had to do something like this in sci. class way back when, but with tooth picks....... Clutch had it right!!!! 45 deg. triangle's will be your best friend!!!! Spread the load at the base!!! No taller than a tad over 24" to give play room!!!

What type of tape and glue are you allowed to use? Are you allowed to cut the straws?

Depending on the type of tape and glue, the glue maybe stronger than the tape!!! Make tape tubes and fill them with glue, than glue the tubes in the straws, if you think it will work better!!!!

Experiment with your own supplies and make small scale experiments!!!!
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