Fall semester lessons fueled a “pioneering” student design roll to top marks in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Eday event on Nov. 30.
Open to Huskers enrolled in an entry-level engineering course (AGEN/BSEN 100), Eday is an opportunity for students to showcase autonomous vehicle designs while also building relationships with faculty, staff and area engineering-related companies.
Nicole Iverson, assistant professor of biological systems engineering and Eday organizer, said the event is intended to deliver a sense of accomplishment to students who are primarily in their first-year on campus.
“They start the semester thinking that they would never be able to build anything this complicated, but they come out of Eday feeling proud of their accomplishments,” Iverson said. “The students are always amazed at how far they have come in just one semester.
“College can be scary and engineering specifically can seem overwhelming, but this class teaches the students that they can accomplish something that seemed impossible when they first heard the description of the project.”
For the competition, students were challenged to create an autonomous vehicle that could respond to light and stop before hitting a barrier. They used coding, electrical and design skills to build the vehicles. And, many groups flexed their creativity by customizing the designs to replicate well-known vehicles or characters — including the Magic School Bus, Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Event winners included a student group that developed “The Prairie Schooner,” a design based on the classic covered wagon and inspired by the Oregon Trail computer game.
“We decided to go with like the Oregon Trail because it’s a classic coded computer game, and then we were the pioneers because engineers are kind of pioneers of technology. So we made our vehicle look like a covered wagon,” said Sara Wallace, a freshman biological systems engineering major. “It’s also relevant to Nebraska because the Oregon Trail goes through here.”
When starting the project, the team had little experience with coding and circuits. They used course practice days and lots of trial and error to come up with their final design, implementing the engineering design process that is laid out in their project presentation.
Along with showcasing their vehicles’ ability to accomplish the challenge, student groups presented their work to a panel of judges. They also had the chance to connect with advisers, mentors, faculty and staff — all contacts that can help students succeed as they advance toward commencement.
“Eday is a way for us to demonstrate the amazing students that we have,” Iverson said. “It’s also the students’ chance to learn about our department culture. We are very invested in supporting our students, so having them meet and become comfortable with the faculty/staff early on is important.”
The event culminated with judges selecting five award-winning groups. Each winner received a certificate and University Bookstore gift card. Winning cars and student designers were:
Most Creative — The Pioneers (Carolyn Dillman, Rebekah Lockard and Sara Wallace) with “The Prairie Schooner;”
Best Vehicle Performance — The Dream Team (Teegan Schafer, Noor Alsudani and Maya Lashley) with “Cloud Car” and Lucky group 13 (Luke Harms, Caden Simon and Jordan Bollinger) with “Lucky;”
First Overall — The Super Mario Brothers (names unavailable) with “The Mushroom Murcielago;”
Second Overall — The Dream Team (Teegan Schafer, Noor Alsudani and Maya Lashley) with “Cloud Car;” and
Third Overall — The Pioneers (Dillman, Lockard and Wallace) with “The Prairie Schooner.”