Monday, February 17, 2020

Argentine students accept engineering 'boat challenge'

Ashley Taylor, of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, introduced students in the Friends of Fulbright Argentina exchange program to the "boat challenge."

Student Matías Dogliani explains:

To keep learning about design process, data gaps and work team, Dr. Taylor Ashley and her team challenged us.

We had to work in teams of three people to construct a cargo boat. The challenge consisted of two rounds. At first we had to make a prototype with just one limitation: its base size. After trying this prototype with different loads in water we could see the strengths and weaknesses of our design. All three models were completely different from one another

Using the knowledge that we had acquired making the first prototype, we were asked to go on the second round. Here we had to improve designs so that they could take more weight, but also we had to consider some new limitations, too. Now the height was limited as well as the budget for the materials. Believe it or not we had to change many things from our original ideas, and we only had 30 minutes

The competition was about which boat could take more load and resist more time. Regardless of which team won, it’s worth saying that all teams incredibly improved their designs in terms of the cargo they could take. That is something that really impressed us since it was very difficult to leave behind our original boats and construct new ones: cheaper and with different sizes.

We have learned a lot about teamwork. Since we had a few minutes we had to split the task, listen to others' ideas, and learn from each other and from our previous mistakes.

Last but not least, we have also learned about design process and how to avoid data gaps. We could see that mistakes are part of the process and made us understand many things for future models. Data gaps in this challenge were also a big problem since if we had had all the information about the materials and its properties (and prices) we would have probably built a cheap prototype that worked better. In that case we could see that it would have been great to have the expertise of people of the area.

This challenge was amazing to us. We learned a lot but also we really had a great time. That’s why we would like to thank a lot to Ashley and Alex, who were in charge of the activity. We will take back home this moment and its learnings!

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