City College of San Francisco’s award-winning Engineering Club has returned to campus with a bang, participating in various events around the Bay Area.
Their most recent event was the 9th Annual Solar Regatta where they won four trophies and grand prize giant check.
On April 10, the club participated in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Soapbox Derby, which was held for the first time in over forty years.
Beginning in February, the Engineering Club started to build the “Morkmobile” soapbox, an egg-shaped allusion to the show “Mork and Mindy” starring Robin Williams that premiered the same year as the last derby was held.
Nick Aaron, who drove the soapbox, said the ride was smooth although “a tire was damaged around the second curb, it held out until the finish.”
On April 24, the club participated in the Bay Area Science Festival’s Discovery Day at the ballpark, the first since the pandemic. The Engineering Club has participated in the event since 2010. City College, originally a sponsor of the event, is now involved solely through the club.
Club members spent the day making and launching paper airplanes with their two club-made airplane launchers. On the day of the event, The Guardsman spoke with several club members, including Michael C. Oamil, Jr., a native of San Francisco, who was “originally going to study medicine until [he] learned about the engineering program at City College.” Oamil decided to study at City College for its engineering program in particular.
Another club member, Jena Mayer, said she “specifically enrolled in an engineering class at City College in order to join the club,” unaware that it was not a requirement until she heard the reporter ask the instructor, Keith Mueller.
Although a lot of the members are students in the college’s engineering program, to be a part of the Engineering Club, one does not need to be a student of Engineering, and in fact several of the club members are biotech students.
The Engineering Club meets in the Science Hall at the Ocean campus on Thursday evenings. Upon visiting the reporter found there was coffee and cookies for the engineers in the department’s electronics room. Those in the class and the club, like Mayer, are tasked with building a robot that can relocate ping pong balls for their classwork.
Others who are in the club but not in the class like Engineering Club president Falk, who has already taken the class, has been dedicating her focus to sanding down the catamaran outside the machine room. In another room, Steven Zhou, also a San Francisco native, showed off how students are 3D printing components of their engine for the vessel, as well as 3D renderings of the final design.
At the California Solar Regatta, held at the Rancho Seco Recreational Area, the Engineering Club competed against other California colleges and four-year universities such as Cal Poly and Chico State. The team’s theme was SMUD Trek, an allusion to Star Trek. Their SMUD Trek video won the team their first trophy of the day.
Numerous teams had various issues throughout the competition that they worked through. City College was no different, though they proved resourceful and creative in their solutions and were able to persevere.
City College of San Francisco’s Engineering Club has seventeen trophies in their department’s display case, not including the five they just won at the Regatta. Before the pandemic they used to compete in the RoboGames, creating robots that physically compete in Sumo wrestling against other robots.
Mueller, faculty advisor for the Engineering Club, says that former students and club members have gone on to work at Tesla, and other big-name, high-paying tech companies. Whether it be paper plane launchers, seaworthy vessels, or a ball-retrieving bot, Mueller said that “the Engineering Club is always looking for something to build.”
This article was produced for JOUR 35: Data and Multimedia Journalism Spring 2022 semester with guidance from instructor Alex Mullaney and editing from The Guardsman.