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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Catapult Project Teaches Engineering Students Fundamentals of Design

FORT MYERS, FL - Students of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University recently completed a catapult project as part of the freshman curriculum. The project was designed to teach students basic engineering design principles in a fun and creative way.

The catapult project was also created to help students understand what is involved in an engineering project from the conceptual stage to design, implementation and construction.

The students worked in groups designing the catapult and testing the catapult's ability to meet the guidelines the professors gave them.

The catapults are generally made of wood, steel and plastic materials, but the students could use any material they found appropriate.

Students were free to use their creativity when designing the catapult but had to design it within the following constraints: the catapult must throw a ping-pong ball a distance of 18 feet, and impact within a five-foot diameter circular target area; the physical size of the catapult cannot exceed the size of an average shoe box; it must not cost more than $10 in materials of design and construction; and each team has a maximum of three attempts to hit the target area during demonstration.

"The catapult project is a fun and creative way for students to understand what engineering is all about," says Nosa Egiebor, Ph.D., P.E., professor at the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering.

"Many freshmen go into the engineering field without knowing the basic fundamentals, so this project teaches students the basic principles they will use throughout the major."

The School of Engineering was launched at Florida Gulf Coast University in July 2004 when The Whitaker Foundation gave $5 million toward construction of a facility to house the academic program. The first engineering courses began in August 2005. This spring, the first set of engineering students complete their freshman year.

The School of Engineering building will be a state-of-the-art structure for studying bioengineering, civil engineering, and environmental engineering. After an incubation period, FGCU plans to develop the School into a full College of Engineering.

In the future, FGCU anticipates offering graduate engineering programs at the master's degree level.

For more information call (239) 590-7390 or visit

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