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MEDIA ADVISORY: No Batteries, No Motors in This Barrier Battle Cart Contest

Johns Hopkins student inventions must get their power from rubber bands and mousetraps

December 2, 2014
Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-997-9907; Cell: 410-299-7462

WHEN: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3

WHERE: On stage in the Shriver Hall Auditorium on The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. (Media camera crews will be allowed on stage.) Shriver Hall is Building 64 on the campus map that can be viewed at this site: http://bit.ly/KEjya8. Parking is available in the nearby South Garage.

WHO: Seventy-five Johns Hopkins freshmen from an introductory mechanical engineering course will compete. Twenty-six teams of two or three students have built devices that must be able to move along the floor and then launch a small projectile over a six-foot-tall barrier and strike a target.

WHAT: For a class project, each team designed a device powered only by mousetraps and rubber bands—no motors, no batteries. Certain materials from the class lab and elsewhere could be added, but the total cost per vehicle could not exceed $15.

THE CONTEST: Under its own power, each carrier must move forward six feet from the starting box to a 6-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide barrier, over which the device will launch a 7-ounce projectile at a target on the opposite side of the barrier.

WHY: While working on their projects, students have been learning about design approaches, potential and kinetic energy, friction, prototyping methods and other topics relevant to mechanical engineering. In addition, the project requires teamwork and careful planning, which both will be important in an engineering workplace.

CONTEST JUDGE AND FACULTY SUPERVISOR FOR THE EVENT: Steven Marra, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, teaches the course and will serve as judge. “This is the first experience many of our incoming engineering students have in actually designing and building something,” Marra said. “It sets the stage for several increasingly more advanced design projects they will complete during their engineering education at Johns Hopkins.”

Prior to the competition, Marra can be interviewed by calling his office, 410-516-0034. To obtain detailed rules and guidelines regarding the student competition, contact Marra.

A video about a previous Johns Hopkins mousetrap and rubber band design competition involving student-built ground vehicles can viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhgSXha-M


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