UD participates in Pumpkin Chunkin
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
This week, engineering students will fling water balloons across an empty parking lot on South Campus to practice for the ninth annual Pumpkin Chunkin at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. this Friday.
Senior Anna D’Alessio, president of American Society of Mechanical Engineering, said the group has had fun building their catapult for the competition since they started their designs last spring. She said they have experienced less pressure for this than other design projects.
“It’s just fun because we don’t have to write a report with it, so it’s kind of fun to just design it and build it,” D’Alessio said. “We actually started our testing by shooting water balloons at each other because we thought that would be more fun in case it didn’t work perfectly then we weren’t just having smashed pumpkins all over the place.”
Students involved in ASME will compete against other college students on Friday to hit a target with a pumpkin, D’Alessio said. She said other members of the team include seniors Scott Wroten, Mike Pfeiffer, Pete Lessik, Charlie Small and team captain Janty Shoga.
Their catapult is made of wood, weighing 300 pounds and standing at 7 feet 6 inches tall. According to Shoga, the catapult has a square base with two pieces of wood rising to the top. He said another piece of wood, called the arm, is attached to the top but slants down to meet the corner of the base and is resting on a small wheel placed between the beams. He said at the top, between the pieces of wood, are weights held in place by pins.
Shoga said a team member will release the pins, causing the weights to drop. He said as the weights drop, it will set off a mechanism that spins the wheel and launches the arm from its resting position, releasing the pumpkin.
The pumpkin will be between four to six pounds and each team at the competition will have up to six chances to hit a predetermined target as well as other targets that are worth more points, according to engineering professor Jim Glancey.
Glancey said the hardest part of creating the design was calculating the weight needed to allow the pumpkin to gain the correct launching velocity to reach a target 100 feet away. He said they also had to calculate the angle of the arm and the release point of the pumpkin from the sling.
This is the first year students will be participating in Pumpkin Chunkin, according to Shoga. He said last year, the seniors mentioned the event to other club members and the university was invited to take part.
D’Alessio said the club had to receive special permission from the head of the Resident Student Organization to start their project because catapults are considered weapons on campus. She said they were given permission to compete after the officers in the ASME wrote letters to the student organization office explaining they would use the catapult as a learning experience.
Shoga said once they were given the OK last spring to start their project, the students began brainstorming ideas for the competition. He said there are different types of catapults they could have used, such as ballista and air canons, but they decided to build a trebuchet because it had the simplest design.
D’Alessio said cost was also a huge factor in their decision.