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Students Get Ready for a Squashy Showdown at Pumpkin Launch

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