Contest rules

This information is for our previous contest. 2019 information will be posted soon.

If you are uncertain or unclear regarding these rules please feel free to contact us at

Competition entry and registration

  • Registrations Open: To be confirmed.
  • Registrations Close: To be confirmed.
  • The contest is only open to international students living overseas. Australian and New Zealand nationals and permanent residents are not eligible to participate
  • Teams should consist of a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 4 members (excluding the Team Supervisor). Team members must be listed at the time of team registration.
  • Each team must have a staff member to act as supervisor and contact point for the team. The staff member details must be provided at the time of registration.
  • Participating teams and their schools will be listed on the contest website


  • Each team will be required to build a machine to achieve the task set by the contest organisers. The task will be announced on the website. Registered teams will also be sent an email with the task information.
  • Building can commence from the date the task is announced and the machine must complete the task set by the organisers.
  • The machine should be contained in an area no larger than 1.3m (W) X 1.3m (D) x 1.5m (H). The machine can however be smaller than these dimensions.
  • The machine must have a minimum of 10 steps. There is no maximum number of steps. A “step” is defined as the transfer of energy from one action to another action (eg: a series of dominoes collapsing that then triggers another action is a step).
  • Identical transfers of energy in succession should be considered one-step (eg: two separate sets of domino lines in succession, with one line triggering the next is considered one-step).
  • Machines should be designed to run without human intervention or interaction. Human intervention or interaction with the machine is allowed at the start of the first step (i.e. to trigger the first step). After launch, human intervention or interaction with the machine while running (i.e. to fix a problem or reset a step) is permitted, but will attract a small penalty for each interaction.
  • The machine should not represent a safety risk to either its operator or to spectators standing within 1 metre of it. This should be achieved through appropriate safeguards within the design, and the avoidance of dangerous materials or parts as part of the design.
  • The machine should not contain any:
    • Hazardous materials
    • Explosives
    • Naked flame
    • Live animals
  • Only 3 items used in the machine will be permitted to run from electrical power cords running from wall sockets. Other forms of electrical power (battery, solar, etc) are permitted.
  • As part of their design, teams must create a “step-by-step” description of how the machine works. This description should be in document format and be submitted to the contest organisers by email along with a link to the video of the machine running (see section below for further details).


Submission of a complete entry includes:

  • A video of the machine in action (uploaded to YouTube or an alternative medium).
  • A word document providing a “step-by-step” description of the machine’s operation. This document must include a detailed description of each step and should also include a diagram of the steps and the energy transfers.
  • A signed Witness Declaration Form. The form must be signed by the school’s principal or vice principal stating that they have witnessed in person the machine operating from start to finish without human intervention, in the final. If the machine required intervention, this should be noted, with the number of times intervention was required. Each intervention will result in a small points penalty.

Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Witness declaration form

In addition to supplying video footage of the machine in operation, teams will be required to submit a Witness Declaration Form, signed by the school’s principal or vice-principal stating that they have witnessed in person the machine operating from start to finish without human intervention, on at least one occasion. If the machine requires human intervention this should be noted, with the number of times intervention was required. Each intervention will result in a small points penalty.

Download: Witness Declaration Form 100kb pdf

Video footage

The video footage should run with the following format:

  1. Introduction screen that includes team name and school name (can be the team holding up a poster).
  2. Two build run throughs (show us when things didn’t work to begin with).
  3. The final run through (a successful run of the machine completing the task).

The purpose of the video footage is to clearly demonstrate the design and operation of the machine. Video footage may be edited, containing different camera angles and shots, and should show as clearly as possible the machine’s various steps, running in sequence from beginning to end. However, the final run though must show the full machine operation in one, unedited format.

The video must be uploaded to YouTube, or other video sharing site if YouTube is not available in your country, and the link provided to the Melbourne School of Engineering for judging.

Find out more about how to upload a video to YouTube


The contest will be judged by a panel of 3 members from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Machines will be judged on:

  • Reliability (ability) of the machine to achieve the task with minimal human interaction over 3 separate runs.
  • Timing (the machine should take longer than 45 seconds and less than 2 minutes to achieve the task).
  • Variety in the use of different types of energy transferral (in particular natural and renewable energy sources).
  • Innovative and original use of materials (in particular recycled or re-purposed parts and materials).

The judges’ decision is final and no appeals or protests will be heard.

Winners and prizes

The winning team will be announced on the contest website. The winning team and nominated supervisor will also be contacted by the organisers.

The prizes for the winning team and nominated supervisor is an exciting one week in Melbourne participating in the Science and Engineering stream of the Trinity Young Leaders Program (Summer School) during . The prize will cover the cost of participation, however it is the responsibility of the team and the teacher to obtain relevant visas and organise flights. 

Photos and video

Materials supplied by teams as part of the judging requirements may also be used for future promotional purposes by the contest organisers. All teams taking part in the contest will provide their materials on this understanding.

Contest prize