News Release

Engineering Undergrads Cuddle Tomatoes in Search of Golden Calculator

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This video captures some of the fun and excitement of E-Week 2007 at UCSD.
February 20, 2007 – Tomatoes falling from the sky. Duct-tape miracles. Paper-plate parachutes. Whipped cream in faces. A big blue balloon over Warren Mall. Is that a pair of sumo wrestlers in the distance?

Welcome to E-Games 2007, a day of engineering inspired competitions between a variety of UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering student organizations. E-Games, organized by the Triton Engineering Student Council, was the kick-off event for National Engineers Week at UCSD.

The highlight of the event was the race to build a structure out of paper plates, duct tape, cotton balls, foam, shish kabob skewers and a few other household items that would best protect a tomato during a drop from a helium-filled balloon floating about 125 feet in the air.


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 Slide show icon Click here to view an E-Games slide show.

“The E-Games make people excited about engineering and about making friends,” said Helen Wang, a junior who is majoring in electrical and computer engineering (ECE). “We’re getting to apply some of what we have learned in class,” said Wang, who noted the importance of differentiating between center of gravity and center of mass when making a tomato cradle.



 tomato cradles

 tomato cradles

At the E-Games, everyone who participated had fun, including Honey, the Society of Women Engineers' mascot (below).


 Honey the dog

The golden calculator was up for grabs, however. It was to go to the 

 golden calculator
team with the highest cumulative score from the three events of the day. In addition to the tomato drop, the students were judged on whose building made of plastic toys was best equipped to withstand tremors generated by a portable shake table used for structural engineering research. The third event of the day was a miniature boat race in which the boats were propelled by neon water guns.  Despite their reputation for precision in their work, water from toy guns operated by student engineers did ocassionally land on the bodies of competing teams! 


After all the competitions, the Top Gun team came out on top. With their aviator glasses, pilot jumpsuits and headbands inscribed with the names of characters from the Top Gun movie, which was set in La Jolla, they took their Top Gun theme seriously.  

 Top Gun winners

(Left to Right) Mike Patten, Samina Bhatia, Jenny Rhymer and Tim Havard. The Top Gun team brought home the golden calculator for their student organization, the AIAA or American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. The UCSD chapter of AIAA is a pre-professional student organization involved in design competitions for two planes and a rocket every year.

Students planning to participate next year can expect less foam for cushioning their tomatoes.  "A lot of the cushioning next year is going to be done with other fruits and vegetables," predicted Jeffrey Mounzer, a Jacobs School undergraduate, president of the Triton Engineering Student Council and one of the primary organizers of E-games and E-Week at UCSD. And if things go well, the tomato cradles will free fall from the balloon next year. This year, the tomato cradles remained attached to a rope and pulley system.

In addition to the Golden Calculator competition, students could wrestle with one another and with the physics of the altered environments, thanks to inflatable sumo wrestling outfits.

One of the wrestlers yelled “stupid Third Law of …” before he fell out of bounds and failed to complete the critique of Newtonian physics. 


















 E-Games also included a pie-in-the-face fundraiser. For a $2 donation to a Jacobs School student organization, students could throw a pie in the face of classmate.



Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering