Friday, December 20, 2013
By Kristen Bossio '16
Siena College’s Introduction to Engineering course reached egg-citing new heights this semester by holding an egg drop contest as its final project. Students were divided into teams and tasked with designing an object, or objects, that would allow three perfectly intact eggs to survive a drop from the top floor of Rosetti Hall, the College’s newest academic building.
Each team was given $25 from the School of Science and 30 minutes in a hardware store to purchase supplies. Those supplies, and the ever-handy duct tape, were the only objects the students were allowed to include in their egg-preservation projects.
“We wanted them to learn how to design and build a solution to a challenge using a limited budget and limited resources, while working in a team setting,” said Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Matthew Bellis, Ph.D. He added that the boundaries forced his students to be more creative in their design and execution than if they had unlimited resources.
"The egg drop was fun and a chance to apply what we had been learning in physics," said physics major Alyssa Endres '14. "Trying to maximize the force on the egg from the fall or maximise the distance in which the egg decelerated were the key ideas to winning."
Students bought a wide array of supplies to ensure that their brains, let alone the eggs, were not scrambled as they tried to build safe containers for their precious cargo. “My partner (Alicia Travis ’17) and I knew what we were going to purchase before getting to Lowe’s,” said Ursula Svoboda ’17. “We bought sponges, insulation, bubble wrap, and cloth.”
Their planning ultimately paid off. Svobada and Travis won the egg drop contest, which was also designed by the students in the engineering class. For their mid-term, each team came up with a contest concept that included location, target, and scoring. The class then voted for the challenge of their choice.
“We first had to make presentations to the class, pitching our ideas of what the egg drop contest would be,” said Alyx Gleason ’17. “Some people had ideas of catapulting eggs or tossing them into a small swimming pool from the roof of a building.”
Gleason and her partner, Annmarie Pryor ’17, came up with the winning contest design. They developed a carton-shaped target with different point values assigned to the center, middle, ends and outside of the carton. Depending on where their eggs landed, teams could score a maximum of twelve points.
As the competition unfolded, each team took turns dropping their egg-carrying creations from Rosetti Hall’s third floor into the carton below. There was a range of four points to eleven points scored and only one egg broke. Svobada and Travis won the contest and a yearlong subscription to Make Magazine courtesy of the School of Science.
“This egg drop was a fun and creative way to put engineering skills to work,” said Gleason.
While it was the first time Bellis used the egg drop contest in his Introduction to Engineering course, based on its success, the challenge could become a mainstay. “The course is designed to expose students to what engineering is about, how they can use Siena as a launch pad to engineering programs in graduate school and what a career in engineering is like,” said Bellis.