Undergraduate Program > Course Projects

MECH 202 Project: Engineering Design II


Instructor Bert Vermeulen incorporates real-world situations into his MECH 202 class – inspiring his students to learn with purpose and have fun in the process!

In August 2010, 33 Chilean miners became trapped 2,300 feet underground after the mine they were working in tragically collapsed. For 69 days, the men struggled to stay alive. Vermeulen brought this event into the classroom and presented it as an opportunity to the students.

The assignment was to build a vehicle to theoretically rescue the miners from the collapsed mine, however, a few variables were different. The vehicle would be traveling horizontally, and the miners were Ping-Pong balls with smiley faces drawn on them.

For six weeks, 18 teams of students, worked on their rescue vehicles.

“Different teams approached the problem differently. Some immediately fabricated something and tested it, others spent time analyzing and sketching concepts, and others saw this as an opportunity to learn how to program a microcontroller,” Vermeulen observed.

This semester, the assignment is modeled after Philae, the device that made a rough landing on Comet67P last fall. The goal is to safely land a Ping-Pong ball into the space of a CSU Rams license plate frame, within a 30-second timeframe.