Freshman Design Competition Showcases Team Projects

More than 230 engineering students gathered at the Jake Nevin Field House on Friday, December 5, to see how the vehicles and bridges they had designed, built, and tested would stand up to the challenges of the College of Engineering’s fifth annual Freshman Design Competition.

The event was the culmination of a semester-long assignment. In September, 33 student teams, each of which was named after a different country, had received instructions and supplies for constructing a Lego® vehicle, a chemical cell to power the vehicle, and a bridge made from wooden craft sticks and metal hardware.

As the students drew on classroom lessons to overcome setbacks and maximize performance, they experienced firsthand the engineering design process. "Using skills associated with the College's engineering disciplines, the students tackled an open-ended problem with trade-offs," said Dr. Randy Weinstein, Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and the organizer of the competition. "They learned to work on teams, optimize their designs, and stick to firm deadlines while still having fun."

According to freshman Brittany Doyle, learning to work together was a valuable outcome of the project. "Every individual was responsible for the performance of the finished product and had to make decisions that benefited the group."

In addition to submitting a computer solid model of their vehicle, the teams competed in the following categories:

  • Aesthetics—the appearance and creativity of the vehicle and bridge
  • Race—how much time it took the vehicle to traverse a track (which included the bridge)
  • Load Pull—how much force the vehicle could push or pull
  • Bridge Test—how much load the bridge could support

Team Tanzania finished with the highest overall score. Members were Alexandre Bieri, Frank Diaz, Ryan Fahey, Juliet Grinberg, Mentru Nagbe, Matthew Rotar, Spencer Stevens, and Brian Way.

Members of Team Botswana
Members of Team Botswana fit their bridge into the race course, while Dr. Kris Radhakrishnan (Mechanical Engineering) prepares to time the team’s vehicle.
Team Tanzania
Team Tanzania finished with the highest overall score, having earned first place in the Bridge Test and second place in Aesthetics.