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UofW Engineering students hurl themselves into studies

November 13, 2006

Source: University of Windsor!OpenDocument

(WINDSOR, ONTARIO, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2006) Ė Itís an 800-year-old weapon but itís challenging second-year Mechanical Engineering students as they plan their strategies for the University of Windsorís annual Trebuchet Competition, set for Friday, November 17, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the St. Denis Centre.

The annual contest is the brainchild of University of Windsor Professor Bruce Minaker, who wanted to give students an opportunity to use the theoretical knowledge acquired in a Dynamics course for a practical purpose. What better way than to replicate a trebuchet, or medieval throwing machine? Often referred to as a siege engine, the trebuchet has been credited with helping King Edward I gain control of Scotland during the Battle of Falkirk in 1298.

"What Iím hoping is that students get experience with the principles that theyíve learned in class,"said Dr. Minaker, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical, Automotive, & Materials Engineering. "I want them to be able to grasp concepts of work and energy, and strength of materials, so they can use those principles in optimizing something they build; practical engineering."

Students must construct a machine entirely from popsicle sticks, glue and string, and use it to throw a squash ball as far as it will go. The entire trebuchet structure must weigh less than two kg including the pennies used as counterweights. As structures become more lightweight and efficient, the counterweight can be heavier, and propel the ball farther. Minaker said he is hopeful this yearís team will break the contestís 30 m. record.

"The project grade depends on the throw distance," Minaker said. "But itís all relative, so they are quite competitive and secretive about their designs."- 30 -

CONTACTS:Lori KoutrosManager, News Services(519) 253-3000 ext. 3241Cell: (519) 564-9908



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