STEM Introduces Break the Ice Fest

Industrial engineering students and faculty worked in tandem to show off the impressive impact a car had on two melons. Photo by Liam Bouquet/The jambar.

On Monday, Youngstown State University’s college of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics held the first Break the Ice STEM Fest as part of YSU’s Welcome Week celebrations.

Incoming STEM students and YSU students who have yet to find their place in the university, gathered outside of Moser Hall to speak with various representatives of the disciplines within the STEM college at booths, and, of course, to watch professors and students of these aforementioned disciplines try their hands at destroying watermelons.

Physics, engineering and chemistry were all on display as watermelons both exploded and imploded, spraying their contents across the front lawn of Moser — and a few onlookers.

Douglas Price, a professor of chemical engineering, employed a potato cannon to do the deed.

Douglas Price, a professor of chemical engineering, uses his potato cannon on a watermelon. Photo by Liam Bouquet/The jambar.

“In my potato cannon, I was injecting … syringes full of acetylene gas and acetylene gas will react with oxygen air to produce what? … Oxygen and acetylene will make water, will make carbon dioxide, and, the most important thing, will make heat.And so what we want to do is to use that heat energy to expand the gases and actually fire a potato out of the cannon and see what we can do to this watermelon,” Price told the crowd, right before firing a high speed vegetable right into the center of a unsuspecting watermelon to produce predictable but entertaining results.

The event was not all exploding fruits, however, as students were given a tour of the building via a scavenger hunt and encouraged to sign up for clubs and the mailing lists for the majors on display.

“We are representing the Youngstown State Geology Society, which is like the Geology Club from The Youngstown State Geology Society told students about the many trips they take yearly across the state and internationally, as well as displaying some of the tools of the trade. the Geological and Environmental Sciences Department,” Salam Farhan, a YSU student and member of the club, said. “We are active in the community. We go on hikes, camping trips and field excursions, during which we observe the geology of the environment.”

Majors, such as biology and civil engineering, attempted to make a difficult choice easier for students of STEM by detailing the available courses and the best path to take through the major, as well as informing students of the major’s benefits.

During the STEM Break the Ice Fest students and professors gathered together to show off what the college of STEM had to offer. Pictured is Michael Butcher, a professor of biology. Photo by Liam Bouquet/The Jambar

Tony Vercellino, an environmental engineering professor, said students are given a large amount of flexibility with what they will specialize in, as well as ample time to decide.

“The civil engineering program is unique because it has those five different sub-disciplines in it. You can come to the civil engineering program, and you can be a structural engineer, you can be an environmental engineer, you can do water resources engineering, you can do transportation engineering and you can do geotechnical engineering. And then there is a construction management and technology option,” Vercellino said. “The nice thing about this program is that when they come here as a freshman, they have some time to decide where to go.”

Martin Abraham, the dean of the college of STEM, said he was very pleased with the events, and he thanked the faculty, staff and students of STEM for their ingenuity in putting together the event.

“I think the success speaks for itself,” Abraham said. “Great things are happening here at YSU.”