Engineering students test catapult designs

Students in Engineering 102 designed and built trebuchets, a combination of a catapult and a sling, and tested the devices Monday, May 8. A trebuchet, which was used as a medieval siege weapon, uses several applied principles of physics to project larger and heavier loads farther than a simple catapult.

Student teams comprised of four members each had a $30 budget to construct their trebuchets. Each had to design a device that would serve a specific purpose. One group’s trebuchet launched an ice ball 76 feet and could be used to induce an avalanche. Other teams’ trebuchets were used to launch water balloons, golf balls and baseballs.

The event was the culmination of two semesters of work by the students, who began learning about the devices last fall in Engineering 101 with Sirena Hargrove-Leak, assistant professor of engineering. They learned about the basic engineering principles needed to build a trebuchet, then applied that knowledge by building the devices during Engineering 102 this spring with Rich D’Amato, associate professor of engineering.