DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science Engineering

Durable Skills

First year engineering students recently launched eggs, catapulted bagels and built self-propelled cars at the 11th Annual Grand Design Challenge (GDC).

The competition – which is the brainchild of Dr. Mauro Caputi, associate professor of engineering – marks the end of Designing the Human-Made World (ENGG 015), a course designed to help students develop durable skills that will prove useful when they become practicing engineers.

“This is the culmination of the design principles and durable skills of teamwork and communication that the students develop throughout ENGG  015,” Dr. Caputi said.  “Participants brainstorm, problem solve and sweat all the details throughout the GDC project completion.”

Students from six lab sections were divided into teams and given a budget of $15 to purchase materials such as foam core board, mailing tubes, dowels, hot glue, and tape to construct their device.  Each team was required to design and build one of six specified mechanical devices powered with no more than ten rubber bands. Project choices ranged from a machine that could launch up to six bagels over a wall and land them safely on a platform to a car that could travel a long distance and automatically return.

Civil Engineering student Alyssa Pancho and teammates Matthew Kump, Andrew McInnis, and Razia Shushanta were one of the six teams of the Wednesday afternoon lab section that took first place at the GDC. Their project, “Vertical Limit”, required them to design and construct a mechanical system capable of rising on its own in 90 seconds or less.

“The Grand Design Challenge put what we learned throughout the semester into practice,” Pancho said.  “It helped teach me the value of working in teams and how the engineering process takes time, hard work, and patience.   Even if our design wasn’t what we originally expected, my team’s efforts and resourcefulness paid off in the end.”

Designing the Human-Made World is an Introduction to Engineering Design course offered as part of Hofstra’s First Year Connections curriculum.

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