With four hymnbooks resting on top of a paper tower, the points added up until a winner was chosen.
Students divided into five groups at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) social last Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in the Mark Austin Building. Each group, fueled with doughnuts, was given 25 staples and 50 sheets of paper to create a tower.
They used structural principles, such as the strength of triangles and circles, to hold the most weight, achieve the greatest height, and use the least amount of resources.
“We need a design that has to not only be super strong, but it also has to be really simple,” said Israel Garcia, a freshman studying manufacturing engineering technology. “This allows people to be creative and think about and learn what they could possibly do.”
Garcia described how triangles, or even cross-sections, would be a strong way to build a tower. The final test of the competition is if a robot would be able to replicate the students’ design. While students could fold papers by hand in this activity, it wouldn’t qualify for the final project.
Although many students might find it odd for freshmen to do this kind of large-scale project, Cayden Webb, the leader of the society and a senior studying mechanical engineering, said they’re actually very valuable.
“Some of the best ideas come from freshmen,” Webb said.
Once students get into the higher-level classes, they start learning about more complicated concepts. Webb explained that sometimes the simplest ideas are the most innovative, and the society’s biggest goal is to help them succeed in their careers later on.
Both Webb and Garcia agreed that competitions like this are an opportunity to show off students‘ abilities in a creative environment. While it can be time-consuming, they say it’s well worth it for the jobs, internships and connections you can get after college.
ASME accepts people from any major. In fact, one of the competitors in this event studies accounting. Those with different majors say that they’ve learned to love the process of creating things outside of the structures of school and figuring out the process of that creation.
The winning tower was 76 centimeters high, held the weight of four hymn books, and only used one staple, adding up to 59.2 total points.
“A lot of things we do in school are difficult, intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun,” Webb said.
Meetings are held on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in Austin 202. For more information visit the BYU-I Academic Society website.