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Durand Realizes 2.007 Dream

By Frank Dabek


Keith V. Durand ’05 is the winner of this year’s 2.007 design competition, “Two Tables.” Durand was victorious over Jeremy D. Schwartz ’05 in the final round by a score of 46,369 to 7,957.

Durand, who was allowed into the second day of competition at the judges’ discretion, will go to Japan with the other top four finishers for an international design contest. Although Durand won the final round by a large margin, his early round victories were not without problems. Durand burned out two motors when opposing machines entangled his.

Durand said that he had wanted to win the 2.007 competition, the culmination of Design and Manufacturing I, ever since he watched it on television as a third grader in 1993. Following his victory Durand expressed what excitement the typical Institute workload allows: “Wow ... but I have a paper to write,” he said.

Runner-up Schwartz said that his instructor, Dan Frey, initially evaluated his machine as poorly designed and promised a written apology if the machine scored well. After the machine qualified with a high score, Schwartz said that Frey asked “would you like that on MIT stationary?”

Contest requires pit crossing

This year’s contest required the machines to cross a one foot pit and then knock balls off a platform and into a scoring bin. A machine’s score was the product of the mass put into the bin and the number of radians the platform rotated through.

The most common machine design seen at the contest was the “spinner,” which moved across the pit by means of a bridge or by climbing onto an overhead pipe or the sidewall of the contest table. The machines then spun the rotating platform to knock balls loose and into the scoring bin. The machines usually continued to spin the platform to collect additional points, sometimes pausing briefly to knock balls into the bin.

Durand’s machine was a variation on the spinner theme: it attached a small, independent motor to the spinning platform leaving the rest of the machine free to push balls into the bin or wreak havoc on the opponent. Durand said that his machine performed well because “it was good at doing the same thing every time.”

Two machines employed a risky -- but crowd-pleasing -- design: they fired a projectile at the target pile of balls and then attempted to prevent their opponents from scoring.

Douglas C. Hwang ’05, who piloted one of these machines to the quarterfinal round said that his machine was a “unique idea,” but acknowledged the difficulties inherent in the design. “A lot of it was probability,” he said.

Slocum adds color to contest

The time between runs was occupied by Professor of Mechanical Engineering Alexander H. Slocum’s running commentary and antics.

Contestants and staff members competed in push-up contests against Slocum in what he called an example of the course’s “co-curricular” nature.

Slocum’s repertoire included verbal jabs at rival major Course VI and some perhaps too personal insights: after thanking the machine shop staff for helping to make machines, Slocum thanked his wife who, he said, “helped me make our kids.” After a particularly close round in which early favorite Kabir J. Mukaddam ’05 came from behind to win, Slocum said “we could have a deodorant commercial for that one.”

Other 2.007 entertainment included a rendition of “Epoxy is a Girl’s Best Friend” (based on “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”) by Christina M. Laskowsi ’05 and a video presentation of the perennial 2.007 rap “Time to Design.”

Summing up the contest, Slocum called it “mega-super-hyper-galactical-infogasmic-technosensational.”