University of Rochester

EVENT: Engineering Week Pits Students Against Laws of Physics

February 22, 2000

Engineering students will be encouraged to break the laws of physics to learn about engineering during National Engineering Week at the University of Rochester, Feb. 20-25.

A perpetual motion machine, a device that can keep running forever without any added power, has for centuries been a goal and frustration for engineers. Such a machine is theoretically impossible to create because the smallest amount of friction or inefficiency would eventually drain the machine of energy. Nevertheless, students at the University will be pitted against these odds in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Design Competition on Wednesday, Feb. 23. The competition begins at 11:30 a.m. on the ground floor of Wilson Commons.

The challenge is to re-circulate as much water pouring from an upturned soda bottle back into the bottle without using any added power. The power to pump the water back up into the bottle will most likely come from the weight of the falling water and nothing else. Re-circulating the most amount of water wins the contest.

Also part of the Engineering Week celebration will be a discussion of MP3, a data compression standard that has changed the music industry by allowing anyone to compress, store or transmit music via computers. Students will learn how engineering made the standard possible, and what lies ahead for the compression of sound and video. Other events include the opportunity to make holograms, a tour of the world's most powerful laser at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and seminars on academic strategies, networking, creative problem solving and career opportunities.

The week's events are sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Optical Society of America, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi, a national engineering honors fraternity.

Note to Editors: To cover the "perpetual-motion challenge" or for a schedule of events, call Jonathan Sherwood, 273-4726.