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Leaving Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

July 12, 2010

 Emily Morehouse, our liaison in DC sent this follow up post in a short while ago, and as summer is, the administrator of this blog has been out of the office.   We never work in isolation and as Emily travels and sees the future of agricultural engineering though the eyes of university students, I can’t help think that perhaps these guys might make safer machines for  the farmers here in Vermont.   Here are her words: 

After a great week in Pittsburgh, I’m back to DC for a couple days.  One of the highlights of the ASABE meeting for me was being able to interact with undergraduate students to the department heads of universities to those involved in the agricultural industry. 

It is a change from most meetings I attend, but I believe the student component of the conference will keep the society vibrant and forward thinking with the caliber of students in attendance.  

  On Monday afternoon, I got to witness student ingenuity and creativity by being a spectator for the Fountain Wars competition.  Only intending to watch for a few minutes, I pulled up a chair on the grassy knoll of the convention center and watched as engineering students from six universities designed, constructed and executed their fountain design plans to address two technical tasks they were asked to complete using the materials provided and the materials they were limited to bring (no more than 5 checked bags of luggage per team).  The first task was to see how many times the rubber duck in their pool would make a rotation in a minute. The second task was to keep a ball in motion for two minutes with their fountain design. Students also presented a written and oral report to judges and another judging category was on aesthetics. 

 From a “Wizard of Oz” theme for the Kansas State University team to a whimsical carnival theme designed by Oklahoma State University, the creativity and ingenuity was present throughout all six team designs.  Iowa State University received bragging rights for the next year with their renewable energy design that included switchgrass and miniature wind turbines in their design.  While my alma mater at the University of Illinois were not crowned champions, I enjoyed talking with the students during their processes as they explained the rules and design components of their fountains.  I’m not sure if safety was a component of the judging criteria as electricity water and tools were involved, but to my knowledge there were no injuries reported by any of the teams.

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