By Abigail Roedersheimer
For The Diamondback

University of Maryland community members gathered in the Kim Engineering Building Friday to showcase their engineering skills at the annual Engineering Alumni Cup Competition.

For the competition, engineering school students are given roughly two weeks and a $100 budget to build a Rube Goldberg-inspired device to achieve a specific goal. This year’s challenge, Testudo Tear-Up-Pins, required each team to build a device that could knock down 10 bowling pins.

Teams are judged on effectiveness, presentation and team spirit, according to the competition’s website.

The aerospace engineering department won this year’s event, followed by the bioengineering department in second place and the chemical and biomolecular engineering department in third place. Each of this university’s eight engineering departments participated in the competition.

[College Park has lost 8 acres of tree canopy over last decade, new assessment shows]

Akemi Takeuchi, a sophomore aerospace engineering major and co-captain of the department’s team, said the competition was especially rewarding after late nights preparing for the competition.

“The best part is watching the steps work and seeing your progress pay off and being with the team,” Takeuchi said.

Robert Briber, the associate dean of research for the engineering school, was an honorary judge at this year’s event. Deciding this year’s winner was straightforward, he said.

Second and third places were difficult to place, however, Briber said.

For the first time in its 13-year history, the event introduced a People’s Choice award, where event attendees voted on their favorite design. The chemical and biomolecular engineering department won this year’s People’s Choice award.

“I’m glad that we got to work all together and that people were able to appreciate it as well,” Samaa Zaman, a member of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department’s team, said.

[UMD launches program to boost student entrepreneurship, multidisciplinary research]

The chemical and biomolecular engineering department created a device that included a fermenter, which breaks down sugars to create alcohol as part of the fermentation process. The department’s device released carbon dioxide to fill up a balloon. The team hoped to highlight chemical processes used in the field, according to Zaman.

“One of our tech electives is actually beer brewing, so we also wanted to showcase a lot of chemical processes,” Zaman, a senior chemical engineering major, said. “[We were] kind of showing our process rather than focusing on individual aspects of chemical engineering.”

Engineering school alumni also attended the event, acting as judges, volunteers and spectators.

Emily Thomas, a university alum who won the event in 2019 as part of the fire protection engineering team, said the event has had a lasting impact on her professional career. The Alumni Cup is brought up in almost all of her job interviews, Thomas, who was on this year’s event planning committee, added.

For Daniel O’Donnell, a mechanical engineering alum of this university, the event is an opportunity to emphasize the support that engineering students at this university have among university alumni, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to show that there’s a big support network,” O’Donnell said. “I find it to be really exciting to connect with students.”