Engineering students catch top prizes at ASME competition

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 28, 2006 – The Virginia Tech chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) carried away several top awards — including one for the design of a fishing apparatus for a quadriplegic — during the recent ASME District F student conference hosted by the University of Tennessee.

The Virginia Tech undergraduate mechanical engineering (ME) students, under the guidance of their long-time faculty adviser Charles Reinholtz, an Alumni Distinguished Professor of ME, won first place in seven out of the eight competitions held during the conference.

The Virginia Tech chapter placed first in the Student Design Competition with “Hokie Hooker,” their version of a cost-effective, reliable apparatus that would enable a quadriplegic to cast a fishing lure accurately, retrieve it, make additional casts, and reel in a weight simulating a fish on at least one cast. For winning the design competition, the Virginia Tech chapter received $200 and another $1,000 in travel funds for the national ASME competition in Chicago in November.

Several individual Virginia Tech ME students also won awards during the District F Conference. Tiffany Murray, a senior from Norfolk, Va., won first place in the Technical Web Page Competition.

In a series of “Old Guard” competitions, which are sponsored by retired ASME members who continue to support student activities, Ramtin Taheri, a senior from Virginia Beach, Va., placed first in the Technical Content Competition; Amanda Thomas, the chapter’s chair for the year and a senior from Vienna, Va., placed first in the Technical Poster Competition; and Taheri placed second and Greg Vonder Reith, a senior from Fredericksburg, Va., placed fourth, in the Oral Presentation Competition.

The Virginia Tech chapter also placed first in the Ingersoll-Rand Contest, which recognizes the most active student chapter in the district for the academic year. “In the five years that this award has been presented, our chapter has finished first three times and second twice,” Reinholtz said. “This should again put us in good position to compete for the title of the most active student ASME section in the world.”

In addition, the Virginia Tech chapter won the Student Kilometer Award, for bringing the most participants the longest distance, and the Students in Attendance Award for having the largest number of students at the conference.

“I want to convey a special thanks to our chair, Amanda Thomas, for leading the student section to another banner year,” Reinholtz said.

ASME District F includes engineering schools from Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college’s 5,500 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 1,800 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.