Tournament of the Twelve Tasks: A STEM Competition – Bianca Vidal

The Tournament of the Twelve Tasks is a collaborative competition run by several clubs of the ECMS (Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences) faculty at the University of Adelaide. This includes WISTEMS (Women in STEM Society), Robogals Adelaide, AMESS (Adelaide Mechanical Engineering Student Society), AUES (Adelaide University Engineering Society) and many more. This Tournament was created to expose students to practical and fun problem-solving activities to be completed amongst their hectic study schedules. Spanned over a semester, we faced a new challenge every week – each created by a different club at the university that was unique and amusing in its own right.

I joined the Tournament of Twelve Tasks in Semester 2 of 2020. Given the lockdown and cancellations of a robotics competition,  I was itching to do some hands-on STEM tasks. When I saw the Tournament advertised, I knew it was something I wanted to try as it offers practical applications instead of just learning abstract concepts. The idea of the competition sounded interesting to me, where every club designed and judged their own challenge with their own special prize. So, I got a couple of friends and we placed ourselves in a group.

The tasks covered a wide range of topics. Some of my favourite challenges included: making a cheesy infomercial for a toaster catapult which launched small objects, creating an Among Us video with some interesting facts about the Mars Climate Orbiter, and coding a Choose-your-own-adventure game set on a pirate ship. 

With hard work, we managed to win the competition which we are all very proud of.

Through this, we got some awesome prizes as well! These include tours at the Australian Space Agency and Naval Shipbuilding Company, and mentorships from major engineering companies like BAE and Shoal. However, the most valuable thing that the competition gave me was the opportunity to think on my feet, apply my classroom knowledge and meet new people.

For anyone who wants to try the Tournament or any other event like this, my advice would be to just do it. Not only do you gain new experiences, you also meet new people and learn valuable skills like teamwork and creative thinking which are important in any field.  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” is a quote that rings true, just showing up and trying your best is better than not trying at all. 

About Bianca: Bianca is a third-year undergraduate student studying Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. When she’s not at Uni she is playing board games, playing volleyball or playing with her cat, trying to win his affection.

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