Hovercraft Competition Serves as Unique Final Exam

On May 13, 2014, Clark School students came together in the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building for a final exam that has become a tradition for the entry-level course ENES100: Introduction to Engineering Design. Teams of students designed and hand-built multi-colored, autonomous hovercrafts, and then competed against one another for the honor of first place.

All students were given the same set of instructions on the first day of class, but by the end of the semester the results were different from one group to another.  However, all hovercrafts had to follow a specific track, make turns and pick up a wooden payload, all under 10 minutes.

ENES100 students agree that while the hovercraft competition is a crash course in applied engineering, it is well worth the work.

“To go and work on a project where you are free to craft solutions to a design challenge is a far more valuable learning experience [for me] than reading a textbook or watching a powerpoint,” said Alec Chosta, a member of the winning team, Team Terp.

The teams competed head-to-head for about eight hours. Although there was only one winning team, all the students learned about communication and collaboration.

“Every member of our team not only brought unique skills to the table, but also became a solid addition to our team’s foundation,” said Dan Page, a member of Team Terp. “I know I speak for all of us when I say that our team’s greatest strength was its unity. That cohesion is what led us to success.”

ENES100, or Introduction to Engineering Design, is the first of a series of Keystone courses which are designed to bring the best professors to teach the fundamentals to entry-level students. Since 2006, the Keystone Program has been introducing the fundamentals to freshmen and sophomore students by top professors. Keystone currently offers seven courses.

ENES100 is the first course in the Keystone sequence. The hovercraft project focuses on team-building and allows students to experience first-hand an engineering-based group dynamic.

“The most important lesson I have retained from the group experience is to trust in my fellow peers, as they are not only in the same boat, but are dependable, competent and intelligent,” said Chosta. “The adage holds true, ‘two heads are better than one.’”

2014 ENES100 Hovercraft Competition Results

First Place: Team Terp

Professor: Evandro Valente

Members: Alec Chosta, Brianna Kovacs, Grace Lin, Rakeen Mahmud, Daniel Page, Cameron Abedi, Jeremy Dehn, Anisha Thomas, Kenton Ward

Second Place: Team Ball Droppers

Professor: Jackelyn Lopez-Roshwalb

Members: Josh Goldman, Gedaliah Knizhnik, Connor Marren, Stefan Miller, Kevin Reid, Amanda Rosenbaum, Natalie Rymarz, Josh Sheldon

Third Place: Team Bossa Hova

Professor: Evandro Valente

Members: Oliver Baron, Richard Gezelle, Ghedalia Gold-Pastor, Mahsan Khalilzadeh, Jared Dean, Kyle Maschal, Andrew Miller, Alex Yu, Antonio Zarrelli

Best Craftsmanship Award: Team Ball Droppers

Best Payload Delivery: Team Torque

Watch video and check out photos from the spring 2014 hovercraft competition. 

Published June 18, 2014