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Junior Freshman Engineering students showcase their design and building skills

4 April 2012

First year Engineering students at Trinity College Dublin competed against each other following the completion of a year-long project which saw them work in small groups of five or six to design and build medieval catapults called mangonels.  The competition, which took place on the College rugby pitch last week, is the culmination of a year-long project which challenged over 200 Junior Freshman Engineering students to design, test and build a mangonel.  The project was developed by the School of Engineering using the principles of Conceive Design, Implement, Operate ( which represents best international practice for teaching engineering design by bringing a more practical side to engineering.

The pinnacle of the project saw students use their mangonels to catapult squash ball ‘missiles’ at a public competition.  Forty original design mangonels competed and were judged on accuracy and distance.  Speaking about the project one student commented: “The mangonel project was definitely the most interesting and exciting course in first year.  It gave us a chance to see what engineering is like and it was a great way of getting to know people.  I’m glad I chose Engineering in the CAO now." 

mangonel 1

Module Coordinator, Assistant Professor Gareth J. Bennett of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said: “The role of the engineer in industry has evolved, with today’s engineering businesses seeking engineers with abilities and attributes in two broad areas: technical understanding and enabling skills.  In an effort to ensure that graduates are fully versed in the more practical side of engineering, the mangonel project allows students work together in small groups to learn the principles of mathematical modelling, software development, electronic hardware design, measurement sensors and instrumentation, structural analysis, mechanical assembly and design.  The mangonel project fosters innovation and enables students develop their creative skills in a coherent and structured manner.” 

The project also forms part of an educational outreach initiative involving the Computer Clubhouse Network in the Liberties.  Working with PhD student Dónal Holland from TCD’s School of Engineering, a team of second level students have also participated in the competition.  Dónal’s research focuses on Engineering Education and this project helps demonstrate how technology can be used as a tool to enable young people in educationally disadvantaged areas develop personally as well as creatively.  Industry partners INTEL, Radionics and Honycomb Solutions have sponsored the prize money for this competition.

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