CWU hosts regional competition including schools from Alaska, Hawaii
Surrounding Eastern’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers club and their battery-powered vehicle were competing schools and fears of losing to their competition two years in a row.
This year’s District D North Student Professional Development Conference was held at Central Washington University, April 20-21.
Seven students participated in the annual conference. According to Jason Durfee, American Society of Mechanical Engineers has senior sections of practicing engineers and student sections at universities.
Durfee, a mechanical engineering professor, advises Tech Club. According to Durfee, EWU’s Tech Club is also the student section of the
American Society of Mechanical Engineer that divides the world into different regions.
Eastern is in District D and due to its large region coverage, there are two locations of the conference: North and South. The district consists of Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, British Columbia, Montana and Idaho.
The Student Professional Development Conference has a variety of engineering design challenges, said Durfee.
The Rapid Design Competition featured students who were put into teams and given an engineering problem to solve in a few hours. Students had to come up with a solution and present it.
The Old Guard Presentation is geared toward senior engineers who sponsor the awards for this competition.
The R/C Baja event, where students built and raced remote controlled
Baja vehicles, was also a part of the conference.
Eastern student Saleh Tafesh gave a presentation in the Old Guard competition and received a cash reward for having the best technical topic. For the R/C Baja event, Bryan Woodbury, Kyle Murray, Jeff Sunford, CJ Grijalva, Cameron Lorenzo and Caleb Mazzola designed and built a radio controlled battery-powered vehicle that they raced.
Different teams of this event gave presentations on the features of their designs.
Maximum speed on a straight path, maneuvering around a slalom course of cones and off-road racing were the three races as part of the event.
“Last year, our students took first place,” said Durfee in an email. “This year, they had some problems with their radio controller and also one of their steering servos. This caused them some problems on the slalom course. Otherwise, they did very well in the speed course and the off-road.”
Despite minor complications, the team ranked in the top five in the R/C Baja competition, according to Woodbury. Eastern hosted last year’s conference that showcased the club’s first car.
“We have a different car every year. The first car was all aluminum. This one had a fiber chassis and it was a little bit smaller and lighter weight. Next year, we’re thinking about going completely carbon fiber,” Woodbury said.
Carbon fiber is stronger and lighter in weight than fiber glass, enabling the vehicle to go faster and accelerate better.
“It was funny to see that most of the cars at the competition looked like our last year’s car. They were aluminum and they had fourwheel steering like we did, so that was interesting to see,” Woodbury said.
In addition to the conference, Tech Club participates in a trebuchet building competition with students from Spokane Falls Community College, Egg Drop and Bridge Bash competitions.
Tech Club meets every other Tuesday at noon in the Computer and Engineering Building, room 105.
According to Woodbury, club meetings occasionally feature mini design competitions where students have 15 minutes to solve a problem and then demonstrate their solutions.
“That’s just part of the challenge—keeping all our engineering knowledge and just our general knowledge of physics and then using it as fast as we can to solve a problem,” Woodbury said of the short time period.
Woodbury, who cochairs the club with Nick King, says he is heavily involved with the club and loves the competitions the club participates in.
“It sets you apart from the other students when you’re looking for a job or putting stuff on your résumé. Everybody’s taking the same classes, but the people that are active have more stuff to show.”