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Cooking biscuits on the UA Mall

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Michaela Kane and Michaela Kane | The Daily Wildcat Michaela Kane / The Daily Wildcat Engineering students, professors, and industry represenatives crowd the University of Arizona Mall on Tuesday for the annual Solar Oven Throw Down. The evnet, hosted by the College of Engineering, has engineering students construct solar ovens and try to accuratel predict the temperature it will reach.

More than 500 engineering students gathered on the UA Mall on Tuesday to test out their solar ovens.

The Solar Oven Throwdown is a project for students in the Engineering 102 class. Students work in teams to build the most effective solar oven from a limited amount of material. They also try to predict the peak temperature their oven will reach.

Stephen Poe, a professor of agricultural-biosystems engineering, said the event is a good opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience.

“They have a chance to do something on a theoretical basis, which is to predict how well something will do given the criteria,” Poe said. “Then they get to come out here and test it, and find out how well they predicted based on their design.”

Students were provided cardboard, tin foil and a thermometer in their classes. Teams then built prototypes, shared their designs with the class and improved upon their original ideas before heading to the Mall to test them.

The goal of the assignment was to cook a biscuit using only the heat from the sun, as well as to predict how high the temperature of the biscuit would get.

Trey Roberts, an engineering freshman, said he was confident his group’s oven would reach its predicted temperature.

“Our predicted [temperature] was 179 [degrees Celsius],” Roberts said.

Roberts’ team of four constructed a square oven with a cone to focus the sunlight. The oven also had a sundial to indicate when the sun began to move away from the opening of the oven.

Teams were careful around their solar ovens, making sure their shadows didn’t fall across the openings and lower the temperatures. Students at the event received free Throwdown T-shirts, sandwiches and plenty of water to stay hydrated in the sun.

W. L. Gore & Associates, a manufacturing company, sponsored the event. Representatives from the company also attended the event.

Ariane Mortazavi, an employee of Gore, said she was very impressed with the solar ovens.

“It’s really encouraging to see that the new crop of freshmen are so creative and smart,” Mortazavi said.

The company sponsors the Solar Oven Throwdown to encourage innovative teamwork and to break misconceptions about engineering, according to Mortazavi.

“Engineering is not just about being at a desk,” Mortazavi said. “It’s about building, prototyping, trying new ideas and getting excited about what we do in this world.”

- Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster


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