Geeking out: Learning and fun unite STEM students at UMKC

Sai Srikar Kadiyam

Concrete bowling balls, a two-story egg drop and a lecture from an IBM engineer marked this year’s Engineer’s Week at UMKC.

While E-Week was celebrated nationwide Feb. 17-23, several events were postponed until the week of March 4 due to inclement weather.

The events focused on promoting STEM — the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

E-week brought out a new way of learning and interacting among engineering students at UMKC.

E-week kicked off on Feb. 17 with a lecture by Dr. Pradeep Natarajan, an IBM engineer who specializes in database management software.

He explained how IBM’s Informix Timeseries software benefits utilities companies, which use the centralized database to track utility consumption over time.

Two events were organized by the UMKC Robotics team: the Tesla 500 Race and a soldering tutorial.

Named after Nikola Tesla, who pioneered the use of alternating electrical current, students who participated in the race developed electric cars running on the power created by hand-cranked generators.

The soldering tutorial taught students how to put together a small LED (light emitting diode) circuit that alternately emits flashing light.

In contrast with the Tesla 500, another race employed mechanical energy through human-powered vehicles (HPVs).

In this event, students competed with a human-powered vehicle designed by the UMKC HPV team. Human-powered vehicles, like conventional bicycles, run the power generated by the human muscle.

In each race, students took turns racing the HPV.

The concrete bowling event was conducted by several engineering organizations on campus. In this event, concrete bowling balls designed by civil engineering students were used to knock down pins outside Flarsheim Hall.

In the egg drop competition, organized by the (HKN) Eta Kappa Nu Honor society, students designed a small protective case to insulate their eggs, which were dropped from the third floor of Flarsheim Hall.

The students were judged based on the safety, accuracy and size the packaging design. Students received bonus points if their egg could be dropped from higher floors.

Most of the nearly 20 participants’ eggs survived the drop, but several could not withstand the initial two-story fall.

Other events focused on career development and socialization.

A STEM career fair held Feb. 20 in Pierson Auditorium gave students looking for internships and full time opportunities to interact with the employers and gain industry exposure.

A Mr. Engineer Contest, organized by Student Council/Society of Women Engineers (SWE), was held at Californos in Westport. Seven students from different engineering departments dressed like nerds to compete for the Mr. Engineer title, which was claimed by Justin Daugherty, senior Civil Engineering major.

“We’ve had a pretty good response considering that several of our activities had to be rescheduled due to snow,” said Whitney Molloy, Director of Student Affairs for the school of Computing and Engineering

Eric Gonzalez, senior Computer Science major, said he enjoyed E-Week because “it gives the students a chance to take a quick break from studies and do something fun with an engineering twist.”

Grant Meyer, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the SCE Student Council, said he enjoyed the collaboration between several student organizations.

“Everyone is always creative, and the participants win prizes so some events can get really competitive, which is really fun to watch,” he said.

Meyer said he particularly enjoyed the Mr. Engineer contest.

“We get a group of engineering guys to dress up as nerds, play trivia and perform a talent,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for them to embarrass themselves and make everyone laugh. It’s a really fun event, and everyone had a good time.”

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