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Jumping Robot Olympics at the U Catapult and Egg-Saving Contests Also at Mechanical Engineering Design Day

April 22, 2002 — Jumping robots will compete for glory. Catapults will hurl objects across a large room. Devices will climb a 6-foot-tall wall to rescue raw eggs in a contest named Saving Private Humpty.

Those and other mechanized marvels will perform between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday April 26 as the University of Utah Department of Mechanical Engineering conducts its fifth annual Design Day.

The public and news media representatives are invited to watch the fun in the Olpin University Union Ballroom and surrounding areas. Here is the agenda:

— From 9:30 a.m. to noon, the Trebuchet (catapult) Competition will feature catapults built by local junior high school teams. The goal is to see which team can fling objects the farthest distance and most accurately across the ballroom.

— From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., first-year mechanical engineering students at the university will compete in the Saving Private Humpty event, trying out devices designed to scale a wall, retrieve a raw egg and bring it back to the ground without going SPLAT! For details, see

— The 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Jumping Robot Olympics will feature long jump, high jump and obstacle course events involving autonomous jumping robots built by university juniors in mechanical engineering. For more information, see

— From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., senior mechanical engineering students will demonstrate their senior design projects or display posters about them. This year’s projects include a bridge made of super-lightweight composite materials, a combination ice axe and ski pole, a recumbent bicycle, a Mini-Baja dune buggy, remote-piloted aircraft and small racecars.

Also on display will be the University of Utah’s entry in a national Walking Machine Challenge: a robot named Quarter Twenty that walks, climbs and maneuvers around objects.

Organizers expect Design Day to draw several hundred spectators, plus nearly 200 university mechanical engineering students and 120 junior high school students.