CSUF News Service

Students Get Ready for a Squashy Showdown at Pumpkin Launch

Nov. 3 Campus Event Features CSUF & Community Teams, STEM Activities

Launcher Construction

Team captain Mary Vu and Daniel Lee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student chapter work on building the team's new pumpkin launcher.

Other CSUF student teams in the Pumpkin Launch Competition
  • American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter;
  • Society of Women Engineers student chapter, which tied for third place last year. It was the sixth time the all-female team has placed in the Pumpkin Launch, including winning first place in 2013;
  • Theta Tau, a co-ed engineering fraternity, which won second place in 2017; and
  • Team Not a Pumpkin Drone, a group of computer engineering students who are competing for the first time.
Registration and Parking
  • Spectators are encouraged to register online at Discovery Cube. Parking is free on campus, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton, 92831. CSUF map and directions also are available online. Food will be available for purchase from food truck vendors.

Mary Vu and her team of electrical engineering classmates are trying to spice things up for this year's pumpkin chucking by building a trebuchet-style launcher from scratch for the Saturday Nov. 3, Pumpkin Launch.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers student chapter scrapped its timeworn design to create a new and improved pumpkin launcher to fling gourds at least 100 feet — and hit the medieval-themed targets.

Under the guidance of faculty mentor Mostafa Shiva, professor of electrical engineering, Vu and her team used trigonometry and physics concepts to help them design a launcher with just the right angles and amount of force to make pumpkins soar.

"We are a team of electrical engineering majors who primarily work with circuits and programming, so by building this trebuchet this is our chance to prove people wrong," said Vu, team captain. "There are going to be a lot of people — and factors in life — who will tell you that you can’t do it, especially if it's something out of the norm. But one thing that should never stop you is your gender and your major."

The 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 11th annual Pumpkin Launch is free and open to the public. Held on the athletics fields, north of Titan Gym, the event is a partnership between Cal State Fullerton and Discovery Cube.

Launch teams from CSUF's College of Engineering and Computer Science and the community will send pumpkins flying through the air using trebuchets, catapults, slingshots and other pumpkin flying machines for the noontime competition. The team that hits targets and racks up the highest score wins the coveted Pumpkin Trophy. CSUF student clubs also will present some of the hands-on activities for children highlighting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

CSUF President Fram Virjee and Susamma “Susan” Barua, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, will give remarks before the competition.

For Vu, it's important to share with youngsters the engineering and science behind building launchers, as well as college and career opportunities: "STEM should be encouraged because one could see math and physics being applied in the real world.”

Watch a video about the 2017 Pumpkin Launch here.

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