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New challenges await participants in KU Engineering’s High School Design Competition

Monday, October 16, 2017

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Engineering’s annual High School Design competition is back, and it’s bigger than ever. The event, which annually brings hundreds of high school students to KU, will feature competition in six different categories — last year’s gathering offered five contests. Those competitions give students a taste of real-world engineering applications and provide the school a chance to recruit top talent from the area.

“This is the largest it’s ever been,” said Adam Smith, senior coordinator of the School of Engineering’s Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) Program, which sponsors the event.

Among the areas of competition:

  • Biomechanical engineering: This first-time event will challenge competitors to build a prosthetic hand that can grip a lightsaber. 
  • Aerospace engineering: Participants will be challenged to build a model of an F/A-18 Hornet capable of powered launch and landing.
  • Civil engineering: Students will attempt to build a bridge that can withstand being hit by a boat; entries will be judged on cost efficiency and strength of design.

Other categories include computer programming, Lego Mindstorms and chemical engineering.

Teams can have up to four students, and winners will be awarded a total of $12,000 in scholarships.

“We want to recognize and reward those who show some impressive skills in engineering and encourage them to come to KU,” Smith said.

Aside from scholarships, though, Smith said the day provides high school students “an opportunity to get hands-on experience with actual engineering issues — to get a real connection to what engineering is and can be.”

The day should also feature a lot of fun: Smith said this year’s theme is “Engineer the 80’s”; teachers attending the day with their students are encouraged to dress in their best 1980s gear — with an award for best costume presented at the end of the day.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 at the engineering complex. Participants can register here until Wednesday, Oct. 18.


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