Winner of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans National Award for Engineering Education Excellence 2017

Mission Briefing

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The Mission

The people of Gondwana need an innovative engineering solution 

For the past 30 years the people of Gondwana, a small planet orbiting a sun on the outer fringes of our galaxy, have triumphed over their new planet’s harsh environment. They have overcome complex problems using only the resources they have at hand and assistance from the brilliant minds of engineers from Earth.

These engineers have traversed impossible ravines with limited resources, contained dangerous nuclear contaminations and solved engineering feats that have made people’s lives easier and safer. 

Once again the people of Gondwana are faced with uncertainty… and once again student engineers from Earth are here to help.

The 2017 Mission

Project “THIRTY” – The Highly Ingenious Recovery and Transportation of Yellowcake”

The planet of Gondwana is in a large orbit where its sun’s rays are weak. Fortunately, there is a plentiful supply of concentrated Uranium ore in the form of hard crystals mixed with rocks. The concentration is sufficiently high to pose radiation risks to mine workers, so a transport and sorting system is required for the ore and rocks.


In the “ACME Pinnacle Laboratory”, the Gondwanan Mining Agency (GMA) is currently examining the logistics of collecting and depositing the mined ore and waste. A concept for a new autonomous system to collect, sort and deliver the ore and waste is being investigated. The “run of mine” material is typically stored near the mine site in bins and must be delivered to waste and ore receival bins some distance away. The GMA is struggling with the development of a system to efficiently and reliably collect and deliver the ore and waste in a timely manner.


The challenge is to design, build and test a “proof of concept” to collect and deliver the ore and waste to the receival bins. GMA staff are struggling to build a laboratory based concept to satisfy this task. Fortunately, teams of engineering students from Earth are about to visit Gondwana as part of their work experience programmes. On 29 previous visits engineering students have rendered invaluable assistance with such engineering problems, and on this thirtieth occasion the Gondwanans again seek help from these budding engineers.


The objective is to design, build and demonstrate a “proof of concept” collection and delivery system in a laboratory environment that simulates conditions on the Gondwana mine site. For the “proof of concept” competition, points will be scored when the autonomous ‘system’ collects a mixture of two golf balls, two squash balls and two racquetball balls and when golf balls, representing valuable ore, are placed into one remote container and the other balls, representing waste, are placed in a second container, as quickly as possible and with the lightest ‘system’ possible.

View the 2017 Competition rules

Find out what challenges the teams in this year's competition will face.

STUDENTS participating in 2017

participating UNIVERSITIES in 2017

YEARS saving the planet of Gondwana

participating STUDENTS since 1988

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