Soaring Higher

MARIETTA, Ga. | Mar 31, 2017

Concrete Frisbee lands engineering team at the top

Concrete Frisbee

When asked to build a Frisbee out of concrete, students in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology accepted the challenge and pushed their engineering prowess to new heights, earning first place at the American Society of Civil Engineers regional competition.

In early March, just weeks before the ASCE competition, the Concrete Frisbee team was struggling with their design. Mechanical engineering student Nick Murphy, while working on the Concrete Canoe team, saw their struggles and stepped in to help. With an expertise in aerodynamics, he quickly spent the rest of the day redesigning the Frisbee for the upcoming regionals.

“My main goal was to get the proper volume, and determine the weight calculations with the mix. We could always tweak size based on the weight we desired,” said Murphy, who also serves as vice president of the Aerial Robotics team at Kennesaw State. “I play disc golf, so I just modeled it after that.”

Murphy designed the 3D model using the Solidworks software and manufactured the mold using the 5-axis CNC machine, a computer-aided cutting tool, in the Architecture building. The team’s concrete mix was used in the mold to fabricate their final product. Crafting a sturdy, yet lightweight concrete was another crucial component to winning the competition, he explained.

Alex DeLong, a civil engineering student, helped to build the mix. With the team’s concrete Frisbee weighing only 0.6 pounds, it was one of the lightest at competition.

“Making the concrete mix is like making a cake – too much or too little of an ingredient can make a huge difference. We needed to optimize what additives went into our mix,” DeLong said. “We needed a lightweight Frisbee, but it needed to take up volume and be sturdy enough to withstand the throws.”

Concrete Frisbee

The KSU team’s design factored in airflow and aerodynamics, and the concrete proved structurally strong.

“It really is important for different types of engineers to collaborate,” Murphy added, pointing out how mechanical and civil engineering students teamed up to create the best product possible.

Each collegiate Frisbee team was allowed two throws, and the average distance was calculated for the final score. Murphy threw the Frisbee 150 feet and 188 feet, respectively.

If the Frisbee had broken, the team would have been out of the competition, Murphy explained. Instead, the KSU team built one of the most lightweight Frisbees, which traveled the farthest distance, allowing the team to clench the first-place title.

The Concrete Frisbee team was just one of KSU’s ASCE small competition teams that competed in 18 different activities at the regional series in March in Florida. The Steel Bridge Team placed third, earning a bid to national competition at the end of May. The Concrete Canoe team placed eighth regionally this year, moving up five spots from last year.

Qais Manji, a senior civil engineering student, served as KSU’s ASCE project manager, ensuring that all of the competition teams had the proper documentation to compete and that each team met the rules set forth by the ASCE for each type of activity.

“The competitions are always fun and the events change each year so that we have to make weird things out of concrete,” said Manji, who has been involved for the past three years. “But these competitions play a huge role in our education. We show the productivity of civil engineering and what we can do to put our knowledge in to application.”

This year, the regional competition entailed 25 universities competing in 18 different activities.

Kennesaw State’s ASCE chapter entered all 18 of the eligible competitions, ranking in the top 10 for 10 of those events:

Concrete Frisbee – 1st

Mystery (excavator challenge) – 1st

Wood Dam – 2nd

Concrete Ladder Golf – 2nd

Concrete Cylinder – tied for 5th

Environmental – 6th

Professional Paper – 9th

Concrete Cornhole – 9th

Balsa Wood Bridge – 9th

Geotechnical – 10th

With more than 40 Kennesaw State engineering students who volunteer to participate in these academic competitions, the University placed third overall among 25 universities – its highest achievement in the regional competition series.

“Participating in the ASCE Southeastern Conference builds teamwork, pride in representing KSU, and confidence in applying engineering principles while showcasing personal skills - all in a fun, competitive atmosphere with student peers,” said Nancy Turner, a civil engineering lecturer and faculty advisor to KSU’s ASCE student chapter.

- Tiffany Capuano; photos by David Caselli 

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