Source: Mahbub Alam, 785-532-2932, malam@k-state.edu
Hometown interest: Belleville, Dodge City, Ensign, Garden City, Manhattan and Mission, Kan.; and Greenfield, Mo.
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/sept11/9-15fountainwars.JPG
Cutline: Members of the K-State fountain wars competition from left to right: Erin Mason, Jessica Barnett, Brent Ware, Levi Sutton and Kelly Borgen. Not pictured is Breanna Stout.
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, tmsharp@k-state.edu

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011

ENGINEERING A VICTORY: FOUNTAIN WARS TEAM FINISHES FIRST AT INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

MANHATTAN -- When it comes to winning competitions, the Kansas State University fountain wars competition team is making a splash. The team continued its string of top performances with another first-place finish at the recent American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers annual international meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Fountain wars is a hands-on, real-time design competition where students design and model a fountain to complete technical tasks. The model is then built and tested under time limits at the competition, and a written report and oral presentation must be provided. The design also must be aesthetically pleasing.

"In addition to completing certain tasks using water power within the designed fountain, it has to spray water in the air in an aesthetically pleasing pattern," said Mahbub Alam, K-State professor emeritus of biological and agricultural engineering and team adviser. "Use of electronics synchronized with music made the K-State fountain match the aesthetic function attached to it very well."

Certain supplies were provided to the teams and the others were purchased individually. Purchase considerations included low-cost and environmentally suited items, Alam said.

This year the technical tasks were themed around the host city of Louisville. The first task, Horsin' Around, consisted of a steeplechase horse race. Teams were required to propel a horse around the edge of a pool, occasionally jumping barriers. Each repetition of cleared barrier and touching of the water within the fountain equaled one point. All teams constructed their horse and rider. The second task, Beach Ball Bash, used a plastic bat to help propel 8-inch beach balls into a catch basket. All tasks had to be completed by use of hydraulic power.

The College of Engineering and department of biological and agricultural engineering provided financial support to the K-State team.

K-State beat out five competitors, including Iowa State University and the University of Tennessee, for top honors.

"They have good teamwork, good cooperation and came out with a very sleek design," Alam said of the K-State team. "Their design was compact, economical, used biological materials and performed all tasks very well."

Putting together the fountain within the time limit and making it perform as desired is daunting., as something almost always goes wrong, Alam said.

"I marveled at their coolness and the way they put their heads together to come up with a quick solution," he said.

Competition team members include: Jessica Barnett, junior in biological systems engineering, Belleville; Lorinda Bejot, senior in biological systems engineering, Dodge City; Kelly Borgen, concurrent bachelor's and master's student in biological and agricultural engineering, Ensign; Breanna Stout, senior in biological systems engineering, Garden City; Levi Sutton, senior in biological systems engineering, Manhattan; and Brent Ware, concurrent bachelor's and master's student in biological and agricultural engineering and team treasurer, Mission.

From out of state: Erin Mason, team president and junior in biological systems engineering, Greenfield, Mo.

Philip Barnes, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, served as the team's co-adviser.

Alam hopes next year's team will continue previous successes.

"My hope is that someone from this team will be available to mentor the new team," he said. "I hope the new team will have the spirit to come up with the good work."