Specification Clarification questions must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted via our web form at MESA Day Question. Questions should be discussed with advisors prior to submission. Submitted questions should include your name, your school, and advisors should be copied on the email.
The following questions were proposed for clarification of the MESA Day 2016 specficiations.
General QuestionsClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: Can students participate on more than 1 team?
Answer: It is possible for students to participate on more than one team. Each specification identifies how many students must be present during testing, so you should refer to those specifications. The only events that restrict students from participating in other events are the National Competition and On-Site since they require all team members to be present and require a longer time commitment to compete.
Question: Can notebooks be digital or do they have to be on paper?
Answer: Students can use a digital notebook but they will be required to provide a hardcopy, printed or handwritten, of the notebook at MESA Day for judging, if required by that design challenge. If printed students should be prepared to answer questions by judges to ensure that the work is the student’s own work.
Prosthetic ArmClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: Can we use Arduino knockoff controller boards, which still use the Arduino language? I believe it is true that the RedBoard is a knockoff itself, so how about other Uno and Nano boards sold by various vendors?
Answer: Yes, the specifications only state that the fingers “MUST be controlled by an Arduino microcontroller which is programmed with the Arduino language…” and does not require a specific microcontroller.
Question: Is there a MESA USA page for Prosthetic Arm questions?
Answer: Yes, that page can be found at http://www.mesausa.org/nedc-faq.html.
Question: If we use a 3d printer to print parts for the prosthetic hand can we determine the cost of filament using weight compared to cost, rather than the length compared to the cost.
Answer: Yes, as long as your provide the proper numbers in the budget sheet and attach the associated documentation that will be fine.
Question: Page 1 of the specifications says that the poster must be done as a single PowerPoint slide but according to page 15 they are supposed to make a trifold and it also says that electronic media is not allowed. Can you please clarify?
Answer: Since the rules are National, states can use addendum’s to make alterations to the National rules to best suit their state events. This is the case for Arizona. We are requiring all teams to do the Powerpoint and submit them by Friday. Page 1, which is the addendum, overrules what is stated in the rest of the document.
MESA USA PilotClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: What type of contamination will we have to detect in the competition and where will it come from?(Metal, Bacteria).
Answer: MESA is not providing any kind of specific testing for teams. Any demonstration of this type will be based on the challenge the team chose and will be conducted by the team based on what they bring to competition.
Question: Are we allowed to use anything else than a sensor like a UV light or an additional sensor in our prototype?
Answer: Teams are only required to use sensors for the research portion of the project. Anything is allowed for the prototype as long as the prototype is Arduino-based.
Question: Can the sensor be separate from the prototype?
Answer: Yes, the objective of the challenge is to conduct a research project using Arduino whose results inform your prototype. So the prototype can be a completely separate use of Arduino from what was done for the research.
Question: Does the prototype have to work in general and if so do you get extra points if it does?
Answer: Teams are not required to bring a working prototype. Scoring for the prototype if focused on the team’s implementation of the Engineering Design Process to develop a high quality idea that is directly tied to the research project. So a working prototype does not necessarily mean higher scores if the work is of poor quality. Teams should refer to the scoring rubric to identify how the prototype will be evaluated.
On-Site DesignClick or enter to reveal information below
QESST Solar Car CompetitionClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: What is the minimum and maximum number of students allowed on the team for the QESST Solar Car Challenge?
Answer: The teams must have at least 2 and at most 6 students.
Question: May we us less than 3 wheels?
Answer: The specifications do not place any requirements or restrictions on wheels.
Question: Are students allowed to use circuitry) to remotely attenuate the voltage output to the motor (to control the "throttle"), as long as it doesn't "power" the motor or control steering? (They want to be able to control RPM/Torque in real-time.)
Answer: As long as there is no power added and it does not control steering teams can add components to regulate the energy in the system.
Designer of the DayClick or enter to reveal information below
Golf Ball Delivery ChallengeClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: Are students allowed to use battery power in their golf ball launcher?
Answer: Per Rule 6, “Any launcher and/or receptacle design is allowed unless deemed unsafe by the judges. Unsafe designs could include use of compressed gas (other than air) and/or caustic materials.” So yes a battery powered device would be allowed, however, students need to make sure that safety is a key consideration. Overheating or fluid leaking from batteries could deem their design unsafe.
Question: Can the receptacle move or be moved while the ball is in flight?
Answer: No, the receptacle must be placed on the ground prior to the golf ball being launched and once placed, may not be moved until the launch is over. Once the launch is over, the receptacle may be moved to a different location for the next launch.
Question: Can more than one ball be used? For example, can we use a different ball for each launch?
Answer: Yes, as long as all the balls pass inspection and are impounded with the launcher and receptacle.
Question: We are using a trebuchet launcher. Can the string or pouch go over the launch line while the launcher is in motion?
Answer: No, the rules state that all parts of the launcher remain behind the launch line. This includes parts that project from the launcher even if later in the launch process retract and end up behind the launch line. The launcher should be located far enough back of the launch line so all parts remain behind the line throughout the entire launch process.
PVC BridgeClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: Are we able to screw connections together on site? The specifications state that it must have all loose connections.
Answer: For the purpose of the competition, loose connections are connections that are not permanent. These connections will be assembled on site during the construction period and must be able to be disassembled as well. For example, a PVC T-connector that is glued to a member prior to the event would be part of the member, but a T-connector attached during the construction period is a connection and cannot be glued. If a nut and bolt is used neither can be glued or otherwise permanently affixed during the construction period.
Question: Can we bend PVC pipe in a triangular form?
Answer: This is not specifically prohibited in the specifications, however, it is stated that “A member shall not exceed overall dimensions of 2’ x 6” x 6”.” So any bent form would have fit within these parameters to meet specifications.
Question: When speaking of a "member" that would include any part to the bridge with any component parts which the team plans on attaching to the part... for example a 1.75" piece of 1/2" Schedule 40 PVC with any fittings like 60 degree elbows attached to each end must fit inside of the 2'X6"X6" rectangular prism with the parts attached?
Answer: A member is defined as “…a rigid component comprised of parts. A member shall retain its shape, dimensions, and rigidity during timed construction and load testing.” In the example provided, if the 60 degree elbow is permanently affixed to the PVC then it would be part of the member and must fit in the 2’x6”x6” prism. If the elbow is not permanently affixed to the PVC and would be attached during the building phase than the elbow is a loose fitting and not a part of the member, thus the elbow would not be need to fit in the prism with the PVC.
Question: Can we use glue to stick the pipes together when we are building the bridge?
Answer: No, by loose connections we mean that the connections cannot be permanently fixed and therefore glue is not allowed. The bridge must be able to be taken down into the various parts after construction.
Question: Can we stick the footings of the bridge into the dirt when we are done building so it can hold more weight?
Answer: No, the bridge must not use anything in its environment to aid it’s strength. The strength must come from the members themselves and the connections. (Side note: the load testing might happen on a hard surface and also digging in the footings doesn’t add any strength. The bridges will most likely break at the joints or at the members, very rarely at the footings.
Question: Since the definition of "member" includes the part and it's components, can fittings be pre-glued if they fit into the 2'X6"X6" rectangular prism?
Answer: Yes, that is allowed.
Question: Did I miss the dimensions of the footings on the drawings and sketches? I was curious about how high the top of the footings are from the ground
Answer: The footings that are referred to in the specifications is just a 4 foot by 1 foot rectangle that the legs of the bridge must fit into. The team’s bridge design must incorporate legs that will fit into this space.
Question: Is there a limit to how much PVC pipe we can use in the bridge?
Answer: No, however, teams need to remember that the weight of the bridge is an important component in scoring. The lighter the bridge the better.
Question: Can the people building the bridge cross the river while they are construction the bridge. Or do they each have to stay on their "side" of the river. It said don't step in the river but a 2 ft river could be "stepped over".
Answer: No, the Safe Construction Practices section of the specifications specify that “A builder shall not cross from the ground on one side of the river to the ground on the other side.”\
Question: Are decking support surfaces non-structural and exempt from the two-foot maximum length limitation for structural members? If not, can you clarify? Are the decking support member limited to PVC pipe or can they be made of other materials?
Answer: The decking supports must run along the entire bridge and must be made out of PVC. By nature, these supports are structural since they distribute the weight to the other members. The decking supports must be made out of members, therefore they must meet the specifications of a member.
Question: Is there a requirement for the box that we bring the bridge kit in?
Answer: There are no requirements for the box to bring the bridge in so have fun with it!
Question: Can duct tape and/or zip ties be used to connect pvc?
Answer: Yes, these would be considered loose fittings if used to during the construction phase.
Question: What are the dimensions of the "Construction site"?
Answer: The construction site will be approximately 18 feet wide by 20 feet long. Due to possible space restrictions based on the number of teams that register and the physical space available these dimensions are subject to change.
Question: Are we allowed to decorate the poster board and if not, will we be deducted points?
Answer: You are allowed to decorate the poster, however more points are given for providing all the information requested in the specifications. Furthermore, in case of a tie, the poster will be the tiebreaker. With that being said, if two posters have all the requested information, the one which is more elegantly decorated will receive more points in the poster score.
Question: Are the decking support surfaces two long pipes made up of 2 foot sections of PVC pipe that go the length of the bridge? If so how will we be able to meet the free of holes, splits, separations and abrupt changes in elevation part of the specs?
Answer: The two decking supports must run through the entire length of the bridge and meet the member specification. You can make them out of 2 foot pieces connected by pipe connections for example. This surface would support the 2 foot x 2 foot piece of plywood. Per the specifications “Decking support surfaces may be checked by sliding a unit of decking … both ways over the full length. Obstruction or “catching” may indicate possible violation”. The 'free of holes and splits' are meant to express that the structural strength of the pipe hasn't been compromised by making holes to reduce the weight of the bridge.
Duct Tape Water Bottle ChallengeClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: We have found a variety of brands of Duct Tape of different quality. Is there a specific brand of duct tape we will be given in competition?
Answer: We will be using TapePlanet.com brand tape.
Question: Does the water container need to stand up or can it lay down on the flat table to meet the Design Parameter in 1. e. as long at it retains water?
Answer: There are no requirements for the shape and size of the container. A team may choose to have a container that lays flat on the table.
Question: Can we make more than one container? for example, two containers that each carry half the water?
Answer: The objective of the challenge is to design a water carrying device that holds at least two liters of water. With this in mind, as long as both containers are components of a singular device this would be acceptable. For instance, a backpack may have multiple compartments but they are all part of the same device. A lunch bag or water bottle that is designed to attach to the bag would not be considered a part of the device as they can be used independently.
Question: Can teams provide their own duct tape during the Duct Tape Water Bottle Challenge rather use the duct tape that is provided?
Answer: No, per the materials section of the specs teams will be provided with 20 yards of duct tape that is approximately 2 inches wide.
Question: Can teams be allowed to use a marker to label the container parts during competition?
Answer: Yes that is allowed during the construction phase. Sharpie markers will be made available. If this is an important step in construction it should be included on the instruction sheet.
Question: Is it allowed to apply a length of duct tape onto the lid/bag immediately after the water is poured into the duct tape bag in order to secure the lid?
Answer: No, the specs specifically state that designs must incorporate a re-usable lid or cap so any method of attaching or securing the lid must be done during the construction phase.
Question: How much does the duct tape weigh?
Answer: 20 yards of the provided duct tape weighs 264 grams, this is what will be used to calculate the container score.
GM-SAE "It's Complicated" Contraption ChallengeClick or enter to reveal information below
Question: The specs state that raising the flag more than six inches gets us ten points, raising it less than six inches gets us five points. Do you get both point values for a total of 15 if you raise the flag above six inches?
Response: Teams will receive either a score of 0 for not raising the flag, 5 points if the flag is raised up to six inches, and If you raise the flag more than six inches than you receive a maximum of 10 points. These are either/or values not cumulative values.
Question: Can we use fire for the start, using a lighter?
Answer: No, the specs state that hazardous materials may not be used and this would include fire.
Question: Is helium considered a hazardous material ? If not are we able to use helium ?
Answer: Helium itself is not considered a hazardous material and could be used in a design. However, judges could determine that manner of storage and/or use of the helium is dangerous and disqualify a design.
Question: What is the definition of a 'step'? (1 & 2, Scoring) 2. Can an additional component/reaction that does not lead to the final outcome be considered a step? (1 & 2, Scoring) ie. Pop-ups, etc...
Answer: A step is the interaction of two components that lead to the objective of raising the flag. If the pop up ultimately enables the flag to be raised it will be counted as a step. If not, the pop ups will not increase your step count but will improve the them and flow score. Also take into account that any step being used more than once will count as a single step.
Question: Is there a spending limit for the this event?
Answer: No, there is no spending limit for this project.