Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain 2018: Excitement and Creativity Abound at Technion’s EggCopter Competition

May 7, 2018
Kevin Hattori

On Wednesday, May 2nd, a large crowd gathered on the lawn of Technion’s campus to view “EggCopter X 20,” a quirky competition featuring creative would-be engineers and their homemade devices designed to drop raw eggs from a 131 foot-high crane with as few eggs as possible breaking. A total of 14 teams, comprised of groups of students and families who designed original egg-dropping contraptions, took part. Tensions were high as the devices were hoisted into the air one-by-one by the crane and then released. Some floated gently to the ground, while others plunged down at full speed to their messy, yolky demises. The hundreds of onlookers held their breath after each landing, while judges determined how many eggs successfully survived the fall.

All of the 2018 Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain finalists before the competition.

EggCopter X 20 was part of this year’s Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain competition, an annual event conceived in 1997 by the late Neev-Ya Durban, then a student at Technion’s Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. Durban founded the competition “in order to get students away from their textbooks and computer screens and give them an opportunity for creative expression while coping with complex problems in a fun atmosphere.” Tragically, he was killed in 2003 in Tel Aviv during his graduate studies at Technion. His parents, Technion Prof. David and Rachel Durban, were part of the jury in today’s event. “Neev-Ya’s vision and dream has been fully accomplished,” said Prof. Durban. “Today’s competition was heartwarming because what we saw was the essence of Engineering.”

The 14 teams were judged according to several criteria: the number of eggs that reached the ground intact, the percentage of eggs that didn’t break, speed, how close the device landed to the target and its design.

One of the creative entries in the 2018 Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain competition

First prize went to the Zimmerman family’s simple yet effective invention made of sponges, empty water bottles and a yellow parachute. Each of its four raw eggs rested in a sponge “nest” and, amazingly, three of the four survived the 40-meter drop intact! The Zimmerman team, which has participated in five previous TechnoBrain competitions, was led by 85-year-old Yishai Zimmerman from Kibbutz Ein Harod Ichud. They won a cash prize of US $2762.00.

The second prize, worth US $1381.00, went to a team consisting of three generations of the Hakim family, the youngest of whom is in first grade. Their device, made of water bottles and parachutes, plunged straight down in 4.5 seconds with two eggs remaining intact. Three Technion students won the $US 828.00 third prize even though their invention was slow to disconnect from the crane’s hook and essentially crash landed. Despite these mishaps, three eggs survived the ordeal.

Click here to watch a video recap of the competition.

The crane from which the egg-laden contraptions were dropped during the 2018 Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain competition

The competition was brilliantly organized by Marina Minkin, a graduate student at the Technion Computer Science Department, and moderated by Prof. Irad Yavneh. The judges were Prof. Alon Wolf, Prof. Alon Gany and Prof. Tanchum Weller, and Neev-Ya’s parents.

Doctor Bob’s TechnoBrain competition was made possible thanks to the generosity of Dr. Robert Shillman (Doctor Bob), a Technion supporter who spent a summer at the Technion in the late ’60s. He is a Technion Guardian – a designation for those who have reached the highest level of support for the University, and will receive an Honorary Doctorate from Technion in June.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology.

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