CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In the spacious University Center’s Anchor Ballroom, 35 teams consisting of sixth to 12th-grade students, competed by shooting billiard-balls down hollow cardboard tubes. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Department of Engineering hosted the Coastal Bend Engineering Competition on Oct. 6. In a fun, hands-on engineering-related activity called the “binary game,” the students learned about electrical engineering. This was the largest competition yet, with 180 students competing, 20 coaches supervising and a myriad of volunteers lending a helping hand.
“The ‘binary game’ serves as an introduction on converting analog to digital, and that conversion is essential to electrical engineering,” said John Gonzalez, Laboratory Coordinator II in the Department of Engineering at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and creator of the “binary game.” “We want students to have fun and get exposure to the significance of the binary system versus the decimal system, which is important when converting.”
In the “binary game,” the tube represented the analog portion, while the ruler represented the digital aspect. The game introduced engineering concepts such as binary translation, extrapolation, approximation and statistical distribution.
“Our society is going in the direction where everything is running on computer electronics which use digital system theory,” said Cosmina Nicula, Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Engineering at A&M-Corpus Christi. “For example, our refrigerators run on electrical systems. Using digital conversions, we can check the temperature, and if it gets too high, we can activate the cooling systems. This is like the analog to digital conversion illustrated by the exercise.”
The 35 competing teams were from the following schools: Collegiate High School, Flour Bluff Junior High, Flour Bluff High School, Foy H. Moody High School, Gregory-Portland High School, Kaffie Middle School, London High School, Palacios High School, and West Oso High School.
Trophies were awarded to the top winning teams. For the High School Division, “Droid Rage 4” from Collegiate High School brought home the gold and took first place. “Elite Pirates” from London High School took second place. Three teams tied for third place including “Spectacular Sophomores” from Moody High School, “Fig Neutrons” from Gregory-Portland High School and “Droid Rage 1” from Collegiate High School. For the Middle School Division, London Middle School teams “London Rocks Four” and “London Rocks Two” received
One student, Kinsley Cable, from Gregory-Portland High School enjoyed getting out of the classroom, having fun with her teammates and learning more.
“I never knew the binary system, so I liked learning something new,” said Cable. “I also learned how to calculate better and more precisely.”
The Department of Engineering prepares future engineers by providing hands-on experiences for blossoming young minds in the Coastal Bend community.