Mar 282004
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Snow and sleds don’t necessarily go together.

At least, that’s true for the fourth-grade students who

participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ Ninth Annual Sled

Building Contest this Saturday on the Oval.

While the teams were unable to race their sleds in the mild,

56-degree weather, judging of the sleds’ designs and building

qualities still took place.

Four- to five-girl teams from elementary schools in Fort Collins

and Loveland spent 20 hours designing and building the sleds. The

society met with local schools in early January and opened the

competition to any girls interested.

For the competitors, it was clearly a team effort.

“We chose the ones that would work best and combined them all,”

said Nola Catlow, a member of the Pretty Pink Penguins team from

Tavelli Elementary. Also on her team were Danielle Billingsley,

Andie Janicki, Gabrielle McMorrow and Patrice Stockover. Their sled

won the prize for the best steering system.

Sarah Bibbey, Danielle Fritz, Olivia Klinzman and Leah Lashley

from Cache La Poudre Elementary build a sled with an uncanny

resemblance to a Chihuahua. The driver’s helmet featured pointy

ears and bug-out eyes. They named their sled “Buddy” and with it

claimed the prize for most ingenious design.

“We wanted to introduce young women in elementary school to the

engineering concept,” said Omnia El-Hakim, the adviser for the

Society of Women Engineers (SWE). “And we wanted our CSU students

who were acting as mentors to guide and lead them. They were role

models for them.”

Being a role model to their team is something that the mentors

saw as most important.

“(The goal was) to outreach to the younger generation,” said

Kelley Zuehlsdorff, a junior mechanical engineering major and

mentor for the Pretty Pink Penguins. “All the girls believe they

can’t do the science and math. We’re here to show them that they

can do it as well as anyone else.”

El-Hakim said SWE gets a grant as well as support from local

businesses to fund the event.

“We try to get the girls to do as much of the building as they

can,” Zuehlsdorff said. “We make sure they use the power drills all

the time. It’s really important for them to see us use the saws so

they know they can do it later on, too.”

Her team also got to see some welding done on its steering

system, something the team pointed out specifically when asked

about their sled.

El-Hakim said the event was very successful.

“Everyone is happy and smiling. They did a fantastic job,” she


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