Press Release

Build a Better Hovercraft, Build a Better Engineer

Hovercraft Competition to Take Place at Clark School Friday

MEDIA ADVISORY  December 7, 2010

Nicole Roop

press release image

Students, faculty and staff watch a team launch its hovercraft at the start of the competition track in the Kim Engineering Building. Around the track, other teams await their turns. (Photo by Aaron Clamage, A. James Clark School of Engineering, U-Md.) Download the hi-res version

WHAT: Undergraduate student teams will launch their hand-built, autonomous hovercraft to navigate around a track. The competition caps ENES100, the Clark School's signature course that all engineering students must take in their freshman year. The two-foot hovercraft are constructed of foam, batteries, a LEGO microprocessor, fans, sensors and other components. They must float on a cushion of air, propel themselves forward, traverse a "rough patch," and navigate two turns to successfully compete in the competition.

WHO: Freshmen engineering students compete in teams. They will be joined by faculty members of the Keystone Program, which administers the course and competition. Keystone faculty members are among the best teachers in the Clark School and are hand-selected for this course. Teaching fellows--undergraduate students who have already taken the course and are interested in developing leadership skills--also will be on-hand.

WHEN: Media are encouraged to attend Friday, December 10, starting at 9 a.m. (the competition will last most of the day). Students will be working on their hovercraft, testing and competing the entire time.

WHERE: The rotunda of the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building
A. James Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

WHY: Hands-on challenges are important in order to interest and motivate students to study engineering and the other STEM disciplines. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Through this class, students also learn interpersonal skills, problem-solving strategies, confidence and other qualities that will help them throughout the rest of their time as students and as engineers once they graduate. Many students consider this course to be one of their best educational experiences at the Clark School.

More Information: Read about the ENES100 course, the hovercraft competition and the Keystone Program in a recent issue of Engineering@Maryland magazine, which is available online.

Watch a live stream from the competition on 12/10 on the Keystone Program homepage:

Watch video from last semester's competition.

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at