Marshmallow Catapult

 This was my very first group project that I completed in college and it was pretty fun. The objective was to design and build a launcher that could launch a marshmallow 20+ feet, cost less than $30 in materials, and could fit within an 18x18x18 cube. What I enjoyed most about this project was that it introduced me to the engineering design process and I felt like I learned a lot.

End result just about to launch

Our basic concept sketch of our launcher

One of the first things we had to decide as a group was what kind of launcher we wanted to make. We all thought the best idea was a catapult since it is simple and proven to be good at launching things. As we observed on the day of testing, some groups were over ambitious and went for more complex designs which really hurt their performance.

CAD model in SolidWorks
A BOM was created to ensure we stayed under the price cap

I was in charge of designing the catapult in SolidWorks and I am happy with how it came out. At the time I did not have much modelling experience so it probably took me longer than it should have but I guess that comes with experience. Creating the CAD model also made it very easy to create the bill of materials. This makes a lot of sense and may seem really obvious but up until this point it never crossed my mind since I had never done something like this before.

The final result

Building the catapult ended up being very easy as well thanks to the CAD model. Everything was assembled with woodscrews and wood glue for extra strength. The hardest part was getting the latex tubing at the right tension but after some test launches we got it just right.

Launching the catapult

Although this project was not as complicated as some others, I learned a lot from it. I learned about the engineering design process, the importance of team communication and testing your design, and it also introduced me to SolidWorks.

I am also very happy with how our launcher turned out. It ended up having the best launch distance in our class and it was also the most precise. Keeping things simple and going with a catapult turned out to be a really good choice.