Hundreds of students crowded around a makeshift arena in the
Student Union, excited as a battle between two robots ended with
one being hauled off, a smoking hulk.
The series of battles in which several robots were launched into
the air or beaten motionless was the culmination of this
year’s Engineering Week, a series of engineering and
science-themed competitions and events.
The events, held Feb. 16-21, also featured a cryogenics
demonstration, rocket launches, a 3D-printed car derby and
Hosted by UB’s 15 engineering clubs and the professional
engineering fraternity, Theta Tau, the programs are held to promote
interaction among participating clubs and the campus.
“Engineering Week is designed to bring engineering into
the spotlight,” says Joseph Pace, engineering council
coordinator. “There’s a classic idea that the engineers
are all holed up in Furnas and Bell doing their homework. So, this
is a way for students to see what’s going on in the
engineering school, as well as for the clubs to get a chance to
compete with one another.”
Each group organized an event, with a few hosting two. Clubs
earned points by hosting competitions, taking part in other
club’s events and for placing either first, second or third
The four groups with the highest total of points at the end of
the week are awarded funds for their club budgets. This
year’s winners, first to fourth respectively, were Society of
Automotive Engineers (SAE), Engineers for a Sustainable World
(ESW), American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and
Biomedical Engineering Society.
The largest event was Bot Wars, hosted by SAE. Construction of
some the robots began as early as the fall semester, while some
clubs remolded last year’s entries.
The rules were simple: two robots no greater than 50 pounds each
had to survive four minutes in the ring with each other. Fire,
corrosive chemicals and projectiles are banned. Eleven robots were
entered in the competition, but SAE’s machine prevailed,
wining for the second year in a row.
Several popular events returned as well, including orange
chucking, engineering-themed “Jeopardy” and a Mr. and
Mrs. Engineer pageant.
The pageant, hosted by Society of Women Engineers, judged
contestants on “nerd” attire, professional attire,
engineering skills and talent. Student’s performed a variety
of acts, ranging from playing the violin to a dramatic reading of
the theme song from the television show “The Big Bang
New events included:
- A cryogenic demonstration by Praxair, a supplier of industrial
gases. Company representatives first explained the process and
study of freezing materials, then froze a banana and used it to
hammer a nail into a board.
- Robo-Picasso, hosted by UB Robotics, allowed students to draw a
picture using a robotic arm controlled by a hand-motion
- Separation Challenge – put together by AIChE –
forced students to purchase filtration supplies with a limited
amount of mock currency and economically filter dirty water. Teams
were judged on the water’s clarity and purity. ESW and the
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ samples
were so pure, however, that they had to test the water in a lab to
determine the winner.
- In another AIChE challenge, students walked on a liquid mixture
of cornstarch and water. Because the concoction mimics a solid when
pressure is applied to it, students were able to walk quickly
across the mixture without sinking.
- 3-D Printing Derby – presented by the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers – allowed teams to design a car on a
computer, create the design using a 3-D printer and then race the
cars on a track.
Engineering Week is sponsored by the Student Association;
Northrup Grumman Corp.; Applied Sciences Group; C&S Engineers,
Inc.; Kiewit Corp.; Niagara Specialty Metals; and Turner