If you’ve ever walked by the engineering building by the cairn, you’ve probably noticed Room 1180. It's a large workshop usually filled with benches and students working. On Wednesday, it was host to a miniature simulation of 2005’s Cassini mission landing on Titan — Saturn’s largest moon — and boy, was it exciting.
Workbenches were replaced by one large, 160-square foot table with a funnel in the middle. Students, cameramen, TAs, teachers and friends gathered around the table while setting up for the test. This design competition is the first of three projects for MECH 223.
Students were assigned to groups based on results from personality tests they took, and were tasked to design “a launcher and an orbiter/lander spacecraft to explore the hydrocarbon lakes on Titan.” In English, this means they had to build a robot that would shoot a “probe” (in this case steel ball) across the solar system (the table) onto Titan, with the funnel simulating moon's gravity.
Those who have never been to an engineering project competition may want to change that. The atmosphere was both exciting and nerve-wracking. All around the room, students were either making last-minute modifications to their inventions — laptops in one hand, screwdrivers in the other — or they were talking to visitors about how they decided on their design.