By Ambriah Underwood
University of Maryland electrical and computer engineering students won a department-wide competition Friday afternoon to see which team could best create machines capable of completing a simple task.
The Alumni Cup is the conclusion of a weeklong challenge during National Engineers Week.
Kevin Schoonover, the previous president of this university’s Engineering Alumni Network, said the 2012-launched contest was born out of students’ desire to fundamentally determine “which major was better than the other.”
Students engaged in three rounds where engineering students from different departments—aerospace, fire protection, civil, material science, electrical and computer, chemical, mechanical and bioengineering—presented their designs.
The winning team’s captain, electrical engineering major Hasme Jani, said that when his group was choosing a design for the showcase their minds “immediately went to mini golf.”
The arcade theme, Jani said, was inspired by a desire to “bring back our toys from childhood,” including games like pool and race tracks.
As the only team to have their machine successfully run all three rounds of the competition, their ball landed in the hole of the putting green each time without human intervention.
Event Chairperson Jeff Karceski said all of the teams did “a phenomenal job” this year, noting that not everyone creates a theme for their project.
In his third year with the Alumni Cup, Karceski said he was “glad to take over and it has been a pleasure” working with the university’s alumni.
Students, faculty and attendees clapped and cheered for each group that presented, offering audible praise or disappointment on the respective successes and failures of each group’s attempt.
Each team had one member give a rundown on their presentation, responsible for engaging with the crowd and keeping them interested during the slower moments of the showcase.
Alix La Fonta, a senior civil engineering major, admitted that acting as the spokesperson for her team in their captain’s absence was “a little terrifying.”
La Fonta, however, also said her team hoped for a consistent machine, which was an Olympics-themed design featuring sports like snowboarding and skiing.
Though not everyone’s project worked each round—for some, their difficulties lasted throughout the competition—Karceski said that the presentations this year worked better than previous ones and that “by far the teams did a fantastic job.”
Karceski highlighted fire protection engineering, the second-place winners, and their construction of a dragon and castle-themed design as one of the more creative themes. Other group themes included superheroes, space, pirates and the digestive system.
Detailed displays such as the one from mechanical engineering—which took third place for their Epcot theme park for their showcase—underlined the group effort and creativity needed to help these projects come to fruition.
Jani added that, as the winning team, their achievement demonstrates a “faith in our madness,” as many sleepless nights and hours of group work were instrumental to their success.
Other members of the winning team included Dmitry Akmal, Daniel Xing, Hannah Lily Watsky, Israel Kinfu, Bill Kay, Nicole Armstrong and Scott Thomas.