In This Section

New engineering class calls for creative problem solving

October 17, 2000

"MISSION: Construct a device that will pop a balloon. The device must be contained in a cubical space that is 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot The device will be placed behind a strip of tape 4 feet from the balloon. A standard size brick will be placed 1 foot from the balloon, directly between the balloon and your device. Your device must pop the balloon within a time frame of 25 to 30 seconds after the clock starts. You may not spend more than $5 in the construction of your device. GOOD LUCK.< p> Twelve students, divided into three teams, are now at work inventing balloon-popping apparatuses as part of Coastal Carolina University's first Engineering 101 class. For construction materials, the students are restricted to a list of some 200 accepted items, ranging from screws, bolts and pulleys to zip lock bags, golf clubs and Corn Flakes. Their creations must be operational by Oct. 26 - Demonstration Day - when they will be tested and graded by Doug Nelson, associate dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences and instructor of the course.

Engineering 101 is the first class to be offered in the dual degree cooperative program Coastal and Clemson University initiated this semester, which allows students to earn bachelor's degrees from both universities. Students begin their academic career by working toward a bachelor's degree in one of four science majors at Coastal. After three years at Coastal, students transfer to Clemson, where they will spend the next two years majoring in one of eight engineering degrees. While at Clemson, students will complete the remaining courses needed for their Coastal degree.

All students who enroll in the program must take the introductory Engineering 101 course, designed to explore student aptitude for engineering. The course provides information on the practice and ethics of engineering and gives an overview of career possibilities, according to Nelson. The balloon popping project is one of four demonstration experiments the students must develop as part of the course requirements.

"Creative problem solving, often accomplished by teams, is a basic activity in engineering," says Nelson, "I'm very pleased with the ingenuity of these students based on their projects and course work. The students who complete the first three years of the program at Coastal will have proven that they can handle a full-load of high- intensity technical classes. When they get to Clemson, they will be ready."

- more - Students enrolled in the program are: John E. Brigman, freshman mathematics major of Conway; Maria C. Butler, freshman mathematics major of Conway; Johnny Calhoun, freshman computer science major of Conway; Christan Graham, freshman undeclared major of Conway; Tayfun Karadeniz, junior computer science major of Myrtle Beach; Robby Sarvis, sophomore computer science major of Loris; Daniel Spivey, sophomore computer science major of Loris; John Tenney, freshman computer science major of Myrtle Beach; Jason Webster, freshman computer science major of Myrtle Beach; Christian West, sophomore mathematics major of Conway; Casey Wollard, freshman mathematics major of Myrtle Beach; and Robert Wood, freshman chemistry major of Ft. Worth, Texas.

Although this is the first year the dual degree program is officially being offered, some of the students in the program have been working toward transferring into an engineering program, and one Engineering 101 student - Tayfun Karadeniz - is scheduled to make the move to Clemson next fall.

Students who complete the dual degree program will have a greater range of analytical and problem-solving skills than the average engineering graduate, according to Nelson, plus a full degree in either chemistry, biology, mathematics or computer science. "They will have an edge in knowledge, experience and employability."

But for now, their minds are not on diplomas or careers. Their main concern is designing a gadget for less than $5 that will circumvent a brick and pop the balloon behind it in 25 to 30 seconds.