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Titans Dominate Pumpkin Launch

Student Chapters Display Engineering Skills, Make Gourds Fly in Competition

Nov. 4, 2013

Members of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and their supporters pose for pictures after winning the sixth annual Pumpkin Launch.

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Cal State Fullerton's team of student women engineers jumped up and down, gave each other high-fives and whooped after they flung a pumpkin from their slingshot-style launcher into the target.

The hit gave the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers team another 10,000 points to clinch the first-place prize in the Nov. 2 Pumpkin Launch on campus.

The pumpkin launching contest attracted a field of 17 teams, including six from CSUF, as well as from Cal State Long Beach, Fullerton and Santa Ana colleges, California Baptist University, local middle schools, high schools and community teams.

"It's been a long time coming," exclaimed Alexandra Dominguez, president of the all-female chapter, whose team was presented with a $250 Dave & Buster's gift card. "Third time is a charm!"

The team placed second and third in the past two launch competitions.

CSUF's student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers captured second place — the first time the team has placed in the competition. The two winning CSUF teams were the only teams to hit the targets.

"It feels really good to have placed," said Melissa Broguiere, chapter president, whose team won a $150 Dave & Buster's gift card. "This shows that electrical engineers can build a pumpkin launcher too."

The sixth annual fall family event, a partnership between Cal State Fullerton and the Discovery Science Center, attracted a crowd of more than 5,000, who roared with excitement as pumpkins soared through the air, whizzed by and over targets, just missing them, then splattered into pieces on the ground.

Before the launch competition began, College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Raman M. Unnikrishnan addressed spectators — people of all ages, including many children.

"We hope we can kindle a spark to motivate students about engineering through a lot of fun and games," he said, adding that there is a need for engineers.

"Our students are our ambassadors for the next generation of engineers. Hopefully the children here today will witness the excitement and fun engineering students are having ... and choose engineering as a discipline to pursue in college."

CSUF returning teams worked long hours beyond their course studies to make modifications to their launchers this year in hopes of winning. Some, however, encountered last-minute issues and used their engineering know-how to make adjustments.

During the practice launch in the morning, the women's team had a malfunction on their launcher and scrambled to quickly to make the fix.

"As engineers, you have to think on your feet and have teamwork — and it worked out," Dominguez said with a grin.

For more Pumpkin Launch photos go online.

Tags:  CommunityEventsTitan Pride