Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Engineering Design Challenge introduces students to STEM principles
More than 230 Tulsa-area elementary, middle and high school students will test their boat-building skills on Thursday, Feb. 20 during the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa’s Engineering Design Challenge.
“We are excited to see Engineering Design Challenge grow to enable more students to learn about science and engineering in a fun environment,” said Dr. Carl Latino, associate professor of electrical engineering at OSU-Tulsa. “Students have the opportunity to try their ideas and designs. They ask great questions and it’s wonderful to see their creativity in action.”
Part of National Engineering Week, OSU-Tulsa’s Engineering Design Challenge tasks teams of four students with building the fastest motorized boat. Each team is provided the same materials to design, create and race a self-propelled watercraft.
“Teams try to maximize thrust of the motor while minimizing drag to produce a competitive boat,” said Latino. “To be successful they need to take into consideration stability, propeller design, buoyancy and other engineering properties.”
Lane Matheson, director of the Tulsa Engineering Academy at Memorial High School, understands the value of educational opportunities like this one. She has had students participate in the Engineering Design Challenge for several years.
“The event builds confidence in students who discover that they can solve a fairly complex problem in a short amount of time using teamwork,” said Matheson. “I can see the impact on students who receive regular exposure to engineering processes. We need more opportunities like the Engineering Design Challenge to inspire and nurture student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
OSU-Tulsa’s Engineering Design Challenge is sponsored by Spirit AeroSystems of Tulsa, which provides volunteers to offer their expertise to students and answer their questions. OSU-Tulsa students, faculty and staff assist teams during the design and construction phases, providing hints and aid in the building process.
“We are intent on doing our part to see that young people are equipped with the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and in life,” said Mark Walker, senior manager for communications and government relations at Spirit AeroSystems. “Our efforts are centered on district-wide programs that target engineering, math, science, technology and literacy.”
Timed boat races are conducted in 10-foot long, water-filled PVC “half pipe” race tracks in the OSU-Tulsa Main Hall Commons. Awards are given in categories such as fastest boat, best aesthetics and teamwork.
To learn more about the OSU-Tulsa Engineering Design Challenge, visit www.osu-tulsa.okstate.edu/engineeringdesignchallenge.