Rutgers kicks off Engineer's Week with spirit day, Rube Goldberg competition


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In the Rube Goldberg competition, students engineered mechanisms with levers and pulleys to get a balloon from one place to another. The event took place Monday alongside the first-ever Spirit Day.


On Feb. 20, 2017, Rutgers kicked off celebrations for National Engineers Week with a spirit day in the Busch Student Center.

Spirit day is a day where students can experience different areas of engineering and get involved even if they are not normally inclined, said Priti Kantesaria, a School of Engineering first-year student.

Kantesaria is part of the Engineering Governing Council (EGC), one of the two organizations responsible for coordinating the events.

While EGC focuses a lot on planning Spirit Day and the signature Cardboard Canoe Races, the School of Engineering is more involved in other events such as the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series and Young Engineer’s Day.

During Spirit Day, multiple engineering societies set up tables where students can learn more about them, and participate in certain activities to get a hands-on feel for engineering.

Students from the School of Engineering Honors Program presented a Rutgers-themed Operation game, a project they had been working on during their introductory classes.

The Rutgers American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) also had a table up at the event.

Kevin Leiton, president of the Rutgers AIAA and a School of Engineering senior, said the organization started four years ago with only seven students. Due to tabling events such as the ones during Engineer's Week, he said they are able to reach out to a lot more students.

The organization has become pretty big, especially since the formation of the aerospace degree which is a big motivational factor, Leiton said. The degree invites a lot of people who are passionate about aeronautics to come to the school, and Rutgers' AIAA is the only aerospace club in Rutgers.

“People look into learning new things outside of the classroom because you can always learn the theory in the class but unless you get hands-on experience, you might not know what you’re doing,” he said.

The club encourages people, whether new or experienced, to come join them. Some of the projects presented at the table were built by new members and first-year students, he said.

Other interactive activities included community bridges where people passing by could add a section onto the bridge, as well as aluminum foil boats and posters for students to talk about their hopes and dreams, and what engineering means to them, Kantesaria said.

The day also included two Rube Goldberg competitions. These competitions are named after Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and engineer Rube Goldberg who was known for his cartoons, according to his site.

“Rube Goldberg’s are simple machines. So they use simple actions like a block hitting another block and they’ll use things like that to cause a chain reaction that becomes one big machine,” Kantesaria said. “It’s often something overcomplicated, like in order to put a ball into a cup, they might make it 30 steps and make it so elaborate.”

Designing these machines is a fun way to use levers and pulleys and systems and use a little bit of engineering knowledge to just create something fun with friends, she said.

Niharika Mishra, a School of Engineering sophomore, said that participants were allocated certain materials and were asked to make a system using as much creativity as they wanted.

This is the first-year doing spirit day for E-week, Mishra said. Previously, they had done NERD (Novel Engineering Regional Design) Olympics, but found that after doing NERD Olympics for so many years, people were getting too used to it.

“We wanted to make something new, something fresh and something (with) a little bit less commitment,” Mishra said. “It’s midterms week and a lot of students are studying so this is an easy (event) — come here, get food, do an activity and then you can get back to your day kind of event.”



Madhuri Bhupathiraju

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