PULLMAN — Approximately 100 engineering students from five Northwest states will come to WSU this weekend, April 17 and 18, to face off in races, obstacle courses and tricky tasks with their student-designed, remote-controlled vehicles.
 
The competitions are part of the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) North American Pacific District D 2009 Student Professional Development Conference.
 
Events will include a remote-controlled Baja car competition to be held on top of the Terrell Library on Friday evening, a ‘Mars Rocks’ student design competition to be held in the 2nd floor lobby of the Compton Union Building, and undergraduate and graduate website, poster, and oral presentations in  the CUB Junior Ballroom.
 
The district competition is held annually and is meant to help train students and create networking opportunities. Students from Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Alaska will participate.
 
The ‘Mars Rocks’ student design competition asks students to solve a design problem, in which each team is required to design, construct, and operate a prototype to meet the competition’s specifications.  This year’s problem is based on NASA’s efforts to collect soil samples on Mars and determine whether life has existed there. Students were asked to design a radio-controlled vehicle that is capable of collecting small rock samples and returning them to a specified site. Winners of the regional competitions proceed to a final competition, which is held at the annual ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.
 
In the Baja Car competition, students are asked to design, build, present and race a radio-controlled Baja-type vehicle. Students participate in drag and slalom races as well as an obstacle course.
 
WSU’s participation in the conference is supported solely through volunteer donations and fundraisers through the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.
 
More information and a competition schedule are available on the SPDC Web site: http://districts.asme.org/spdc/wa/WAcompetitions.htm.