Students formed teams to try to safely protect their pumpkins from a perilous 30-foot fall in the Aztec Student Union.
If you walked past San Diego State University’s Aztec Plaza on Thursday and thought you were losing your mind, you weren’t. Yes, they were pumpkins falling from the sky from a construction scissor lift.
The 6th Annual College of Engineering Pumpkin Drop was held at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Campus Center. What is this pumpkin drop, you may ask? It’s like an egg drop, but with a pumpkin. The goal is not to break your pumpkin from a 30 foot fall.
The competition, run by the College of Engineering Student Council (CESC), is open to all majors. Year after year, the event tasks teams with designing and building a structure that protects a pumpkin.
Before the competition, the teams provide the judges with a list of the materials used for their apparatus. The guidelines for rigs are simple: no hard materials, no safety hazards, and no hazardous materials or fluids other than water. Structures cannot be more than three feet high or wide or more than 50 pounds. Most importantly, the pumpkin must be in freefall – no bungies, thrusters, or ziplines – and must hit the ground within 10 seconds of falling.
Looking back on last year’s submissions, the CESC President and Senior Computer Engineering Tito Hernandez says the bar keeps rising.
“Last year there was a team that just dropped their pumpkin in a water bath and besides the stem hitting the side and getting a little knocked off, it was left untouched,” said said Hernandez, who hosted the event for the second year in a row. “Another team placed their pumpkin in a pyramid of large bouncing balls, similar to the Mars Exploration lander. This also remained almost perfectly intact.
This year, a record 14 teams competed for prizes totaling $350. One by one, a member of each team wearing safety glasses climbed into a construction scissor lift with their pre-engineered contraptions to drop their designated seven pounds. pumpkin.
An SDSU student in a pumpkin costume shows off a gourd inside the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union courtyard for the 6th Annual College of Engineering Pumpkin Drop. (Audrey Chuakay/SDSU)
Three student judges score each drop in three categories: Team Spirit, Pumpkin Survival, and Engineering Ingenuity. One of the Judges, Executive Vice President of the College of Engineering Student Council Zack Skinnersaid the event is important for building community within the college.
“It gives SDSU engineering students hands-on experience while building a community among those students,” Skinner said. “It’s also the type of event that many students choose to attend SDSU for, so it’s important in building the reputation of our school as a whole. I hope this will continue long into the future.
The Pumpkin Drop also serves as a fundraiser for Aztecs Rock Hunger. Pumpkin scraps are composted in the SDSU garden.
After many thrilling falls, a team of civil engineers and a mechanical engineer from the SDSU chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) were named the winners.
Led by a senior Elisabeth Mehlhornthe team also consisted of taylor green, Emma Raymer, Paul Luc Ramos, Eric Weldon, Dustin Bui, John Floresand Diego Tres. With only three cardboard boxes, PVC pipes, duct tape and remnants of bubble wrap from another team’s entry, the team swayed the judges with their ingenious materials and unscathed pumpkin.
“Emma is an art minor, so she even painted the pumpkin,” Mehlhorn said. “The judges loved the face painted on it, especially since it still looked perfect after a 30-foot drop.”
The team plans to split the grand prize money on a Korean BBQ trip, but the experience is a treat in itself.
“The Pumpkin Drop allows students to come together and use their ingenuity to develop incredible pumpkin-saving devices,” Hernandez said. “It showcases engineering in the best possible way and provides a window for other colleges to see what the College of Engineering can do.”