Students compete in engineering olympics


Carnivalesque games celebrate National Engineer’s Week


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Photo by Shirley Yu |

Left, Shuyao Fan, a School of Engineering senior, plays Gavin Tung, right, a School of Engineering senior, in a cup-stacking contest at the N.E.R.D.?Olympics yesterday hosted by the Engineering Governing Council at the Busch Campus Center. Students won tickets from each game they played, which they could later exchange for novelty prizes.


Engineers and non-engineers alike got the opportunity to flex their brain muscles at the Engineering Governing Council’s second annual Novel Engineering Regional Design Olympics.

More than 20 University engineering organizations assembled an array of carnival-type engineering games at the Busch Campus Center to celebrate National Engineer’s Week, said Jay Ravaliya, president of the Engineering Governing Council.

Participants built bridges with gumdrops and toothpicks, constructed towers, raced in textbook relays and competed in airplane tosses and pie-eating contests. All attendees had the chance to receive prizes.

Ravaliya, a School of Engineering senior, said the NERD Olympics are a great way to get involved on campus. The council toyed with the idea of hosting the event for a while, but last year was the first time they put it into practice.

“It’s a great way to meet new people,” he said. “I just met 20 new people who loved the event and half of them weren’t even engineers. That way, we can showcase what we’re doing in the most fun way and that’s the overall goal of the event.”

The event introduces students to the fun side of engineering, said Anish Vaghela, treasurer of the Engineering Governing Council.

“We want to show that engineering is not all about work and engineers aren’t just a bunch of nerds — we know how to have fun to,” said Vaghela, a School of Engineering senior.

The event encourages everyone from all disciples to participate, said Ilene Rosen, the associate dean of Student Development in the School of Engineering.

“I think it’s really exciting to bring people who don’t know that much about engineering to see that it’s not as scary as you think,” she said.

Rosen, the council’s adviser, said she wants non-engineers to notice the field’s pervasiveness.

“Whether you wake up in the morning and take a vitamin … it was manufactured by a process designed by engineers,” she said. “You travel on a bus — that invokes engineering. Laptops, iPhones, the way your chair is designed … everything people do involves engineering.”

The event is multifunctional and one of its goals is to help the School of Engineering reach out to prospective high school students, Ravaliya said.

“Students that are considering coming to Rutgers University are invited to come to this event as well, so they can meet some of the student leaders and really get excited about engineering,” he said. “Hopefully, they make the decision to come to Rutgers for the School of Engineering.”

Another objective of the NERD Olympics was to encourage youth, from elementary to high school, to pursue engineering, Rosen said.

“We also had today what we call Young Engineers’ Day, where we had 126 students from grades 3-12 doing hands-on engineering projects,” she said. “They did things like building penny boats and chairs out of cardboard boxes.”

Although the event aimed to bring fun to the field, the NERD Olympics also featured practical engineering demonstrations, Vaghela said.

“[Using] the polymer in Pamper’s Diapers, we were able to show how polymers can absorb water and can potentially help clear up an oil spill,” she said.

Ravaliya said he believes the event achieved the goals the council set for it.

“The beautiful thing is that engineering is really hands-on. … I think what the students have done is phenomenal,” he said. “I’m really proud.”


By Tauhid Al-Farook

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