Every year, first year RMIT engineering students from different programs collaborate to design and build bridges made from dried spaghetti.
The aim of this project is to build a bridge that can withstand both a static distributed load and the dynamic load of a moving car.
First, students design the bridge through research, and then refine the design through trial and error. Students work in multidisciplinary teams drawn from Aerospace, Automotive, Mechanical, and Manufacturing and Mechatronics Engineering programs.
“Students are learning how they can optimise their design solution in order to achieve a specific objective,” Dr Akbar Afaghi Khatibi from the School of Engineering said.
Frist year Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Engineering) student, Johnathan Donnellon described his group’s approach.
“We had to research different types of bridges that are out there – truss, beam bridges, arch bridges, suspension bridges – and work out what types were applicable to spaghetti design.
“You're given the task at the start and you have no idea how to go about it and bit by bit and it slowly reveals how to build the proper bridge.”
Dr Khatibi said that in addition to the learning opportunities the project is also a valuable opportunity for students to pull together and work in teams.
“It’s an opportunity for them to build their study group and continue working as a group on their assignments.’
These objectives are clearly working as echoed by Stephanie Duggan, a Mechanical Engineering student.
“It's my first year at university and through this project I've been able to meet so many people that I probably wouldn't have come across.”
Students have found it rewarding to work on a practical project as early as first year.
“In engineering there’s a lot of maths and physics involved so it was really enjoyable to get into the lab and actually put it into practice,” Aerospace Engineering student Sam Dowling said.
Charushi Bhasin, an Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics student, agreed.
“I love mechanics so trying to figure everything out: which way could be better? Could we reduce the weight here? What stresses more? The whole process is so interesting.”
RMIT offers fully accredited engineering programs in aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, electronic, management, environmental, mechanical, automotive, mechatronics and manufacturing.