Tuesday, August 6, 2013

OU Engineering Program Challenges Creativity Through Contraptions

NORMAN– The gold standard in engineering is to create efficiency, but for 47 University of Oklahoma incoming freshmen students, the goal is total complexity.

Engineering students taking the OU College of Engineering’s AT&T Summer Bridge Program are challenged to take a simple task, like turning a page, and make it complicated while still completing the task. The teams' off-the-wall contraptions are famously inspired by the designs of Rube Goldberg.

“It may seem backwards, asking engineering students to take something as simple as hammering a nail and make it as complicated as possible, but by thinking through the grandiose process, these students are learning the basic skills of engineering mechanics such as the value of experimentation, teamwork and design reliability,” said Lisa Morales, program director.

The AT&T Summer Bridge Program is a four-week, on-campus residential program that prepares students for life as an engineering student. In addition to early exposure to course work, the students meet fellow classmates, faculty and staff and earn early college credit.

“These students are highly motivated as they already see the value in planning ahead and investing part of their summer to increase success in the classroom this fall,” said Tom Landers, dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering. “Because engineering coursework can be a challenge, this program prepares incoming freshmen academically for the rewarding road ahead.”

University of Oklahoma AT&T Summer Bridge Program is a four-week-long, residential camp for incoming freshman students who have been accepted to the University of Oklahoma and are planning to major in engineering. This program is geared toward students who are African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Alaskan Native/Pacific Islander, American Indian or first-generation students; however, the program considers all applicants regardless of background. This annual program is intended to encourage diversity within the College of Engineering, helping students connect with engineering students, faculty and staff; acclimate to the college; and prepare academically for engineering and math coursework.

“The Rube Goldberg project helped me think outside the box and expand my thinking style.” – Ramiro Brigueda, Weatherford, OK

“My favorite part about the AT&T Summer Bridge Program was the opportunity to get used to college life and meet crucial people in college career services. The Rube Goldberg project helped me prepare for the application of engineering. Whether you are a petroleum engineer or a civil engineer or any other kind of engineer, people need to put basic subjects like physics to work, they need to probably think of unconventional methods to accomplish such tasks. The Rube Goldberg project is the epitome of inventive thinking.” – Hyeon Joon (Harry) Jun, Seoul, South Korea

“My favorite part was experiencing college life and getting to know both other students in my field of study as well as the campus. The Rube Goldberg project gave me a little hands on experience as well as an idea of the way I should think as an engineer in the future.” – Desmond Alexander, Houston, TX

“I really enjoyed getting to experience dorm and campus life before everyone else. I also liked getting college credit for the class I took. Most importantly, I loved meeting all the campers.” –Teresa Ayala, Wylie, TX

“Working on the Rube Goldberg project has helped me prepare for my first semester as an engineering major by being able to practice my problem solving and math skills.” –Hunter Bonham, Kingfisher, OK

“My favorite part about the AT&T Summer Bridge Program was meeting people from all over the United States who are planning to pursue engineering who are similar to me. We come from many different backgrounds but all share the same goal. The Rube Goldberg project taught me that if we get along with other easily what great wonders we will achieve.” – Skylar Calhoun, Norman, OK