Engineering hosts 2011 Spaghetti Machine Competition

August 11 / 66

The Melbourne School of Engineering hosted the 2011 Amazing Spaghetti Machine Contest last week. Twenty-two secondary school teams from throughout Victoria visited the Parkville campus to compete.

Teams were required to build an overly complex machine to achieve this year’s set task - dispensing coffee, powdered milk and sugar into a cup.

Associate Professor David Shallcross, Head of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering,  said students were challenged to build machines which took 12-14 steps to add sugar and coffee to a cup. 

“Engineering is about identifying a problem, and coming up with a creative way to solve that problem,” he said. 

“There are so many different solutions to any one task, and that’s what Engineering is about. There’s no such thing as one right answer, there are lots of equally good answers.” 

The event ran over two days in Wilson Hall. Teams of Year 10 students demonstrated how their machines worked to an enthusiastic audience of University staff, students and fellow competitors. 

The judges were impressed with the complexity, inventiveness and presentation of the machines. 

Professor Shallcross said engineering gave the students the opportunity to express their creativity.  

He said the judging was very difficult, but the eventual winner was Girton Grammar. Red Cliffs Secondary School came second. The People’s Choice awards went to Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School and Red Cliffs Secondary School.

For more details and to see the machines in action, see the Visions Video Podcast,


Editorial Enquiries

Got a story?

Staff are encouraged to submit stories. There are some important steps in preparing a media-ready story.  Email