Engineering clubs get taste of projects, ice cream

A student explores GCU's American Society of Mechanical Engineers' robot obstacle course at the ice cream social on Friday that culminated National Engineers Week.

Story by Lana Sweeten-Shults
Photos by Katie Severns
GCU News Bureau

Members of the campus' Society of Women Engineers launch slingshot rockets at the event.

Delving into using industrial equipment? Tinkering with power tools?

They could be a thorn in the side, for sure, if you never took auto shop in high school or welded anything.

Grand Canyon University’s Society of Women Engineers chapter decided to smooth those obstacles by doing something simple: Just go into the University’s engineering labs and make something, in this case, welding metal roses using square pieces of sheet metal.

“We wanted to get girls who are interested in engineering to have confidence in the shops. We wanted them to work on all the machines,” said Tabitha Keating, a junior mechanical engineering major and a member of GCU’s Society of Women Engineers.

Electrical engineering faculty member Dr. Michael Awaah (left) serves ice cream to students during the Engineering Department's ice cream social.

The club, which has been on campus for a couple of years, was just one of a dozen or so engineering clubs that introduced themselves to the campus community at an ice cream social Friday outside of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, capping GCU's participation in National Engineers Week.

The University also celebrated E-Week with a virtual bridge-building competition open to schools around the nation in three brackets (easy, intermediate and difficult). Schools submitted YouTube video links of their bridge designs via email. Students from around the country also could join in a webinar series that featured 30-minute interviews with expert members of GCU’s Engineering Department along with live question-and-answer sessions.

A couple of the topics the webinar series covered: What are engineering firms looking for? And how impactful are engineers to local and global economies?

Keating herself said she had never created anything in a workshop before joining SWE, whose members recently toured Ford.

Matthew Fox (left), the quality executive of SAE Aero Design, said the newly formed SAE Areo Design Club is working toward designing a remote-controlled aircraft. He is pictured with mechanical engineering professor Greg Bullock.

Another new club addition to campus, SAE Aero Design, was organized just three weeks ago and expands the reach of SAE’s Grand Canyon University chapter (SAE was formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers). The chapter also hosts the Formula SAE Club for those interested in building a Formula One-styled racecar.

The new Aero Design division of the chapter concentrates, as its title suggests, on airplanes and aeronautic designs.

The group is divided into four subgroups – fuselage, power, stabilizers and wings.

“Students will work together to combine the work of those subgroups and build a fully functioning aircraft,” said SAE Aero Design's quality executive, Matthew Fox. It will be a remote-controlled aircraft that the team plans to design in Solidworks.

A Society of Women Engineers Club member makes a slingshot rocket at the ice cream social. The club also is making metal roses so members can get experience on the machines in the engineering labs.

Don’t look for the club to simply order a kit online: “Everything will be from scratch,” Fox said.

The Formula One team, meanwhile, is gearing up for its second competition season after making its debut at the Formula SAE competition in Lincoln, Neb., over the summer.

The team displayed this year’s new chassis at the ice cream social.

“The maturity of the design. … It’s just so much further ahead this year than last year; I’m thrilled,” said Dr. Kevin Williams, Formula SAE team faculty advisor, who donned his, "I'm an engineer. What is your superpower?" T-shirt.

Roberto Casas, President of GCU’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers Club, was eager to introduce visitors to the team’s robot course.

A spherical, "Star Wars" BB-8 looking robot a little bigger than a tennis ball seemed to gleefully roll its way through the course, which students constructed in CSET's engineering labs.

Students design mini boats for the boat float challenge at the table for UNV-112, "Success in Science, Engineering and Technology." The course's lead is mechanical engineering technology professor Dina Higgins (right).

Dina Higgins, a mechanical engineering technology professor, was at the event with students from her UNV-112 class, “Success in Science, Engineering and Technology.” They encouraged visitors to join in a mini boat-building competition. One of the boats was fashioned out of folded foil and kept several nuts and bolts afloat before finally sinking.

And IEEE (better known as I “Triple E,” or the electrical engineering club) was at the ice cream social, too, with mini robots zipping along a pathway drawn onto a piece of paper.

Philip Varkey (right), president of the IEEE Club, talks to fellow students about the group's latest project, to help the IxT Club (Information x Technology) design and build "blinky badges."

The project that IEEE President Philip Varkey was ready to talk about was its partnership with the IxT Club (Information x Technology Club).

“We’re making blinky badges,” he said of badges that light up and, at concerts, can be programmed to light up in certain patterns.

IEEE and IxT are hoping to pitch the badges to the Havocs to wear at basketball games and light up GCU Arena.

The ice cream social – in the courtyard area between the Engineering and College of Natural Sciences buildings – also included faculty serving ice cream while student clubs and organizations touted their projects to visitors.

“It really gets the students out and visible,” said Dr. Janet Brelin-Fornari, Associate Dean of Engineering for CSET. “And it builds that camaraderie. You also get to see them (the clubs) in a bigger picture. They can see what’s going on in the other clubs.”

Williams added, “It’s a chance to see opportunities for participation in the various clubs, and it’s a chance to celebrate our engineering students.”

Follow GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.


Related content:

GCU Today: Formula SAE team hitting the road to competition

GCU Today: Students in driver's seat in race build

GCU Today: GCU club engineers hope for Ruby


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