SWE Hosts 12th Annual “Xtreme Gingerbread House Competition”

Gingerbread house competition 2018The Brown University Society for Women Engineers (SWE) will be sponsoring its 12th annual "Extreme Gingerbread House Competition" on Friday, December 7, from 4-6:30 p.m. in the Hazeltine Commons of the new Engineering Research Center.


Twenty teams of 3-5 students and professors will be allowed to pre-register for the competition. Registration for the event is available at goo.gl/ihWXvD. Team leaders are asked to register with the names of team members (3-5 students/faculty) and a team name. Cost of pre-registration is $5 per team, $10 per team to register at the event Friday evening (as space and supplies allow). The Gingerbread House Competition is open to non-engineers.

Each team will be supplied with two boxes of graham crackers, two Ziploc bags of royal icing, and a tray on which to construct their house. Additionally, all teams will be provided with an empty sandwich size Ziploc bag for taking the communal supplies. Foods such as candy canes, M&Ms, teddy grahams, gummy bears, etc., will be kept on a central table. At the start of the one hour time slot of building, one member of each team will be allowed to take the empty Ziploc bag to the communal table and fill the bag with whatever supplies they feel are most valuable for their team's house. All food items will be provided by SWE at the event; teams are NOT allowed to bring any of their own food.

The teams will have one hour to construct their houses out of the provided food. Houses should be designed to follow the criteria listed below:
- The house must fit on the provided tray and not cover the drilled-in holes
- House dimensions must not exceed 6"x 6" x 6"
- The house must be hollow
- The maximum wall thickness is 1"
- The house must be glued/pasted to the tray; the house may not slide around the tray
- The house should be designed to withstand earthquakes

Teams are allowed to bring any tools that they think will be helpful such as knives, drills, etc. Teams are responsible for bringing the necessary power connections/extension cords. If you plan on using tools, please ensure you know how to use them safely and plan to bring the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses. No chemicals can be used during the manufacturing of the house; the house and all its contents must remain edible at all times.

After exactly one hour, the teams will be forced to stop construction on their houses. The houses will initially be judged before a panel of three faculty judges on (1) Attractiveness of the house [1-10 points] (2) Novel use of building materials [1-5 points] (3) Use of available space (i.e. decorations other than the house) [1-5 points]. Additionally, judges will have the option to select one "wildcard" house after viewing all the completed houses. Judges will award a bonus of three points to the house if they feel that one house was exceptional in a way that was not represented in the other scores; this is optional and at the judges' discretion. The sum of these components will be used as the team's aesthetic score.

The second portion of judging will be on the ability of the house to withstand a simulated earthquake. The tray will be attached to a shake table and cycled through a regimen moving from a low frequency to a high frequency. After every 15 seconds, the frequency will increase. Time will start when the shake table is turned on, and will be stopped when part of the house falls off the main structure; this includes decorations attached to the house, but not "environmental decorations" that are simply on the tray. The final call on whether a house has "failed" will be at the judges' discretion. Houses will not be judged until tables and floors are clean.

After all the houses have been tested, the maximum amount of time on the shake table to make a gingerbread house break will be used to calculate the scores, as shown below:

----------------------- x 50 = Total
Maximum Group Time

Total group scores will be calculated by combining the aesthetic score (out of 25 points) and the stability score (out of 50 points) for a total score out of 75 points. The team with the most points will be considered the winner. The team with the second highest number of points will be given second place and so forth. The top three teams will be awarded a prize.

Email BrownUSWE@gmail.com with questions.