The objective of a competition is usually to perform faster, higher, stronger or
longer. But in a Hebrew University of Jerusalem contest for students on
electricity and magnetism, the challenge was to build the “slowest engine” –
with more than 80 students competing at the Givat Ram campus.
prize offered by course lecturer Dr. Nadav Katz was lunch with other lecturers
in their private dining room on campus.
In the end, Eyal Abramovitz built
an engine that made one rotation every 90 minutes, winning the award and much
admiration from colleagues.
The quality of the faculty’s dining hall meal
is not known, but Abramovitz and his hosts had plenty to talk
Designing an engine that works very slowly is no less complicated
an engineering feat than building a fast one, said Katz. “The students used the
same physical principles as they would have to build the fastest engine, but
they were forced to go to the opposite extreme and show plenty of
Katz added that in the last two weeks, engineering students
showed much enthusiasm for the challenge and built many types of tortoise-paced
engines. “They tried to squeeze tips out of the lecture team, but in fact, there
is no one way to do it. Our aim was not to limit the students but to make them
free to explore their wildest ideas.”
The lecturers also wanted to “add
spice” to their teaching work. “There is no doubt that it’s more interesting to
have direct contact with students this way. The aims of the competition
contributed to our curiosity, and we have no doubt that the students surprised
themselves with their creative and successful models,” Katz said.