February 13, 2018

Area high schools prepare for competitions at SIU Engineering Day

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – High school students from throughout the area will descend on Southern Illinois University Carbondale this month to learn more about engineering and how it impacts daily life. 

The College of Engineering’s annual Engineering Day is set for Thursday, Feb. 22. About a dozen high schools and an estimated 200 students are expected to take part in the event, which includes various engineering-related activities. 

The event will start with registration at 8:30 a.m. in the breezeway at the Engineering Building on the SIU campus. Design competitions and hands-on activities and demonstrations will run 9 a.m. to noon at various locations throughout the building, culminating with an awards ceremony at noon at the Student Center

Responding to high schools 

Dean John Warwick said this year’s activities are a response to area high school teachers, who asked to include several projects that students would design, build, report on and then enter into the competition.  

The college’s Registered Student Organizations came up with the projects and sent out the rules and construction guidelines to the high schools before Thanksgiving to get the students thinking about and working on their projects. 

“All high school project teams will bring their machines and structures to Engineering Day, where they will be evaluated,” Warwick said. 

Other events, such as a robotics demonstration, also will interspersed throughout the day, keeping the students occupied and engaged for the duration. 

Challenging projects 

The machines and structures the students are building include:

A counterbalance trebuchet: A scaled-down version of a war machine from the Middle Ages, the apparatus uses a counter weight drop to swing an arm and launch a projectile. It differs notably from a catapult, which uses tension to store the mechanical energy needed to launch. 

Truss design: Trusses are used to support spans, such as roofs and bridges. In this competition, the students will design and build the strongest, most efficient truss to span a distance of 12 inches. The truss design will then be destructively tested. 

Bottle rocket design: In this challenge, students will compete for the longest flight time for rockets built using a 2-liter soda bottle. Each bottle rocket will be filled with 1 liter of water and air-pressurized to 40 pounds per square inch. 

Speed boat race: Students will design and build their own 6- to 12-inch speedboats using only foam, popsicle sticks, tape, a battery, wires and a propeller. The boats will then square off against each other in races, with the fastest boats winning the competition. 

To RSVP or for more information, contact Jennifer Langin, office administrator, at 618/453-4321 or jlangin@siu.edu.