'Steer' the Turtle
by Maggie Haslam for Maryland Today
How many engineering students does it take to move a statue of Testudo safely across McKeldin Mall? As it turns out, eight.
Yes, the statue is a four-inch, 3D-printed replica of the real thing and the mall, a cardboard diorama—but the feat of engineering was no less spectacular. Solar sensors, chemical reactions and old-fashioned gravity moved the miniature mascot along an obstacle-like course to arrive at its target, earning lab coat-clad students from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering first place at the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s 12th annual Alumni Cup on Friday.
Sponsored by the Engineering Alumni Network in conjunction with National Engineers Week, the Alumni Cup challenges undergraduate student teams from each of the school’s eight departments to design and build a Rube Goldberg-inspired machine that can accomplish a simple task. With two weeks and just $100, teams work around the clock to deliver complex, elaborate contraptions that ooze creativity and team spirit as much as engineering prowess.
“The test runs have been pretty successful,” said aerospace engineering junior Kruti Bhingradiya, a three-time participant. “But it’s also a single-point-of-failure machine, so pretty successful is not really successful.”
Top secret until Cup day, the team creations go head-to-head in a live-judged competition with the promise of spills and thrills for the hordes of faculty, student and alumni onlookers camped out on all three floors of the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building rotunda. This year’s competitors did not disappoint, with elaborate contraptions that had Testudo hitching a ride on the Purple Line, escaping a burning building and touring A. James Clark Hall.
“I just love seeing students coming together as a team and the cool solutions they come up with,” said Matt Leidich ’12, Alumni Cup master of ceremonies and a member of the Engineering Alumni Network. “We write the rules to be specific but to leave room for interpretation. We just let them run with it.”
Published February 27, 2023