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Spark Club’s Hubert Ka with the Eiffel Tower featured on Daily Planet
Photo courtesy of Vincent Lee

A Spark of Genius

U of T engineers use playing cards to replicate a Paris landmark

It may lack the exotic scenic views of Paris, but the U of T Spark Design Club’s nine-foot rendition of the Eiffel Tower was still an impressive feat.

The engineering club accepted a challenge by Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet to build a megastructure out of cards – part of the science show’s Gigantic Week in March.

About 20 students attended workshops to design the tower and do test runs – and dealt with several collapses along the way. “You don’t think it, but when the cards start piling on top of each other, it gets pretty heavy,” says Anmol Kaur, Spark president and a third-year electrical and computer engineering student. The team figured out that using structurally sound shapes along the base – triangles and arcs – provided a winning formula. On the morning of the airing, six team members spent six hours building the tower on stage.

Spark, which started a year ago, hosts monthly workshops during which students come up with unusual ideas for what to build around campus. One past work is the Piano Floor – a giant keyboard on the ground that people could step on and play – which was in Bahen Centre’s main lobby in January. For the next project, Kaur is considering a giant pinball machine.

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