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An engineering bundle

An engineering bundle

Mary Kate Fleisher March 01, 2022

The 2022 Engineers Week Design Challenge, sponsored by Kids Read Now and the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), culminated Saturday, Feb. 26.

Kids Read Now provides books for kids to read over the summer to help with literacy and learning loss. This year’s challenge was to design a device or mechanism that helps their employees put rubber bands around book bundles for mailing. See more about the challenge in this video.

The challenge began with 15 teams in early January, and the top five teams advanced Feb. 5 to the prototyping stage. Each design approached the banding process differently and ranged from assistive devices to sophisticated electromechanical systems. The teams worked to get their prototypes functioning in just 21 days.

Ken Bloemer, director of the Visioneering Center, reported on the results of the competition:

First place went to the team Flying Minions with UD graduate student Jacky Cai and senior Luke Duncan. Their design included a bench-mounted device that is preloaded with rubber bands and assists the operator with holding the books in one hand and stretching the rubber band over with the other. They also made a version that mounts to the operator's arm and a device that assists with loading the rubber bands. In addition to the simplicity of the device, the icing on the cake was a plan to provide the devices with a two-year warranty.

Why two years? Because that’s when they will be graduating. 

Second place went to Team CSM with first-year students Michael Foster and Spencer Dabney. Their design  included eight pneumatic cylinders, an arduino controller, dual safety buttons to keep an operator's hands away from the pneumatics, a foot pedal for activation and a crafted wooden box for an enclosure. Judges stated their design was impressive, especially considering the time constraints — and increased their prize from $500 to $1,000 on the spot. 

Photos by Mary Kate Fleisher ’23.