University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Mechanical Engineering Students Build Pumpkin-Launching Machines


Toby Weber

The Cullen College of Engineering student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers hosted its first-annual “Pumpkin Chunkin” contest on Oct. 27.

The Halloween-inspired event featured devices built by teams of students launching pumpkins through the air and, eventually, crashing into a field. The teams competed to determine whose device launched pumpkins closest to targets placed at various distances from the machines.

The winning team was comprised of mechanical engineering students Mike Hedger, Jerrardo Martinez and Drew Nolen. The team constructed a trebuchet—a catapult-like device that uses counterweights of varying weights to adjust how far it launches an object. The group won the competition at the 100-feet distance, sending a pumpkin closest to the mark with a 112-foot launch.

According to Hedger, who also serves as secretary of the ASME student chapter and was one of the organizers of the event, the Pumpkin Chunkin event was a way for students to put their engineering education to use and have fun at the same time.

"It was a chance to get people interested in engineering, and to apply the things we know to something physical,” he said.


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