Vanderbilt E-Week promotes engineering for the fun of it

A student tries her hand at building the perfect Nanoblimp for an aerial dogfight. (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt University)

No, the Nanoblimp aerial dogfights didn’t impress at Vanderbilt Engineering Week, but they did lead to an important discovery when a blimp disappeared into the HVAC system.

Put too much weight on a Nanoblimp, and it falls to the floor. Too little, and $60 flies into a vent in Featheringill Atrium’s third-floor ceiling.

But that’s the point of E-Week. It’s not about the high-level, challenging engineering work expected out of undergraduate students every day. For five days — Feb. 23-27 this year, coinciding with the national observance — they’re encouraged to take time out between classes to remember what got them interested in engineering in the first place.

Maya Mason

“When you study engineering at this level, it’s a lot of numbers and a lot of work,” said Maya Mason, a third-year biomedical engineering major and member of Engineers Without Borders. “It’s interesting, of course, but there aren’t many chances to just explore and design just for the sake of trying something. This is a fun way for students to relax.”

Click here for a photo gallery of Vanderbilt E-Week 2015.

Even Thomas Agger, the second-year mechanical engineering major who lost his Nanoblimp to an unfortunate air draft, still had a good time.

“There’s such a thin line between the blimp being weighed down too much or not enough,” he said. “I’m going to go outside and see if it escaped the depths of Featheringill.”

Vanderbilt E-Week is sponsored by student groups in the School of Engineering. Events included an ice cream station where the freezing was done with liquid nitrogen, a Rube Goldberg machine-building demonstration, and an Arduino programming demonstration. With each event came candy, popcorn, sandwiches and even a snowcone machine.

Students decide their strategy for a winning egg drop device. (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt University)

Ryan Kenigsberg, a first-year engineering science major, tried his hand at the egg drop. Students built mechanisms to product their delicate cargo during a drop from the atrium’s second floor.

“My strategy was to try to suspend the egg with rubber bands so there was flexibility when it hit the ground.” Kenigsberg said. “It was not a success.”

He softened the loss with some of that ice cream.

Sponsoring organizations: School of Engineering Council, Engineering World Health, Design For America, IEEE, American Society of Mechanical Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineering, VandyApps, Tau Beta Pi, Biomedical Engineering Society, Chi Epsilon, American Institute of Chemical Engineering, V^2 Mentoring, Theta Tau, Society of Hispanic Engineers, Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers


Heidi Hall, (615) 322-6614
On Twitter @VUEngineering