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Top Gear: Mechanical Engineering awarded 2014 "Best Darn Major"

By Adam Webb & Shane Foley
On February 20, 2014

The RUC Multipurpose Room erupted with cheers of victory Thursday night as Daniel Hardin and Christina Bechard were named Mr. and Ms. Engineer at this year's Engineering Banquet.  This final top distinction secured the spot for the department of mechanical engineering to claim this year's title as the "Best Darn Major" on campus.

The activities kicked off Monday with the egg launcher competition between the civil, mechanical, and chemical engineering degree programs. Despite heavy rain, the three teams brought out their student-constructed egg launching machines and fought for first place by catapulting and sling-shotting eggs as far as possible.

The only restriction on the construction of the egg launchers was that the base of the machine could be no larger than a 4-foot by 4-foot square. However, teams could build their devices larger than that, so long as the base stayed within the designated parameters. The chemical engineering team took advantage of this rule by building a very large slingshot device that stretched over 8-feet long and was 6-feet tall. The base, though, stayed safely within the 4-foot restriction.

The chemical engineering team won the distance portion of the event, launching an egg 75 yards. Their machine was built by third-year student Robert Stewart.

"I'd been working on it for about a week and a half, and I did everything myself. Lots of people wanted to help, but I'm one of those guys that kind of already had it done. I did have some help testing it, though," Stewart said.

Chemical Engineering has not ranked as high as the other majors in recent years.

"I was really happy with the chemical engineering result this year," said Xavier Brown, a sophomore chemical engineering major and representative of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for the EJC. "We've struggled at the egg launch in years past, so it's good to see us do so well."

On Monday night the mechanical engineers won the E-Week cardboard canoe race for the second year in a row. 

Six teams competed in the race, representing each of the engineering majors and computer science students.  The teams had 30 minutes to build their vessels using only tape, plastic bags and cardboard. Once built, teams were required to paddle from one end of the Fitness Center pool to the other. 

Senior mechanical engineering major Laishka Bruno said, "People can't get involved in everything, but E-week is a way to make your last year in engineering memorable."

The mechanical engineers selected junior Samantha White and senior Shadi Saeed to pilot their boat in this year's cardboard competition.  White was on the same team that won the race last year. 

"We won last year because of my idea to use hand paddles," said White.  This year every team was using hand paddles after the success of White's team in the previous competition. 

The other boats sank or fell apart upon entering the water for the race, making it no task for the mechanical engineering team to paddle their way to victory. 

Engineering Week is sponsored by the Engineering Joint Council, which is comprised of students elected annually by an engineering organization to represent the College of Engineering. There are representatives from every engineering organization on campus.

"E-Week is to demonstrate to the campus what some of the cool things the College of Engineering can do, but it's also a competition to find out who the best darn major is," said Xavier Brown.

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