The fourth annual Zome Competition is in the books and Vanderbilt’s winner is—the Eight-Stranded Beta-Barrel. Say what? The Zome competition, sponsored by the Science and Engineering Library in conjunction with National Engineers Week, attracted 14 teams of students competing to create and explain a design created from Zometools.
The competition winners were Ilham Eli, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology, and Hana Nasr, who earned a bachelor’s in neuroscience in May.
Tracy Primich, director of the Science and Engineering Library, brought the competition to Vanderbilt. She wanted the library to be a part of the week’s activities at Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering.
She explains Zometools  as elaborate Tinkertoys. “You can build things in a variety of ways with many more angles,” she added. The Zome system utilizes struts and connectors of various shapes to construct objects and is used to help teach algebra, scale, number sense, symmetry, proportion, geometry, DNA structure, trigonometry and more.
The teams used their combined engineering skills to create their design. The rules allowed “machines, molecules, organisms, devices or abstract concepts” as designs. Each team had four hours to build their design with a predetermined number of Zome sticks and connectors and deliver a written explanation for their creation. Entries were judged on creativity, originality, usefulness, and non-obviousness of the design created.