Equipped with 615 K’Nex pieces from a toy kit and floor space in a classroom on the second floor of 750 Commonwealth Ave., several teams of College of Engineering undergraduates raced to construct small-scale roller coasters within an hour. When time was up, the executive board of the BU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) judged entries on track length, speed, difficulty and aesthetics—and on whether a toy car made it to the finish line.
Sponsored by ASME, the K’Nex Roller Coaster Design Contest was one of 17 on-campus events in celebration of National Engineers Week 2010. Founded in the U.S. in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, E-Week aims to encourage interaction and communication among engineering students, faculty, alumni and industry. Drawing on volunteers from 20 undergraduate student organizations between Feb. 16 and March 2, this year’s College of Engineering E-Week included a wide range of activities.
“Engineering is an extremely diverse field, and Engineering Week provides an opportunity for each of the College’s student groups to celebrate that diversity,” said Dan Ryan (EE’10), ENG student government president. “From a K’Nex Roller Coaster Design competition to rescuing Allied forces in post-World War II Germany using unmanned aerial vehicles, student groups bring fun and excitement into engineering all throughout E-Week. To cap the week off, students, faculty and alumni compete at our annual Pub Style Trivia Night for cash prizes.”
While the week also included formal events, such as the annual Order of the Engineer ceremony; social and recreational outings such as a Biomedical Engineers Society faculty-student basketball game; and educational talks and films; hands-on-engineering competitions predominated.
Erica Squillacioti, president of the BU section of the Society of Women Engineers, helped organize a sugar cube building contest. “The sugar cube contest is a great way for students to take a break from studying to have some fun and meet other engineering students,” said Squillacioti. “Like many of the other events, the contest is also a fun way for students to show off their creativity.”
At some of the student competitions, the victors could also claim cash prizes. Each member of the winning team in the K’Nex Roller Coaster Design Contest—ENG seniors Doris Ling, Maisam Dadgar, Aneesh Acharya, Dan Collins and Jasmin Imsirovic—walked away with a $25 gift certificate to Best Buy.