E-Fest Season Closes with Successful Event in Tennessee


May 12, 2017


The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology team receiving their prize for first place overall in the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge at E-Fest East in Cookeville, Tenn. (Photos by Harrison McClary)

ASME wrapped up its inaugural series of Engineering Festivals (E-Fests) with a lively and action-packed event, E-Fest East, which was held last month at Tennessee Technological University.

Approximately 835 students from more than 80 colleges and universities attended the festival in Cookeville, Tenn., located about 90 miles west of Nashville. Participants came from all parts of the United States as well as other countries including Canada, Colombia, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Taiwan.

“We’ve had so many people here, it’s great,” said Josh Watkins, one of two lead Tennessee Tech student E-Fest volunteers. “We’ve met students from all over the country, and from all over the world. It’s great to hang out with all of them. And then, on top of that, we had professional development and keynote sessions. We get technical information from experts. It is all-around awesome.”


Ariella Havevi drives Rose-Hulman’s Rose Pedal in the endurance event at the Human Powered Vehicle Competition.

The enthusiasm at the festival was contagious. “I’m so excited to be here at E-Fest,” said Karen Ohland, a member of the ASME Board of Governors who participated in an ASME roundtable discussion. “It is amazing to see the energy and excitement of the students, to see the people who will be changing the world. The electricity is tangible.”

Tents set up for E-Fest on Tennessee Tech’s beautiful quad remained empty over the three-day event, from April 21 to 23, as thunderstorms forced most of the events indoors. But the 38 teams competing in the Human Powered Vehicle Competition braved the rain. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, dominated the soggy event, winning five awards, including one for best overall entry, with stellar performances in both the speed and endurance events. With its vehicle, the Rose Pedal, the team also placed first in the innovation category, thanks to a design mechanism that allowed Rose Pedal to lean into turns.


Amy Elliott of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility was one of two keynote presenters at E-Fest East.

South Dakota State University did especially well, too, with its vehicle, The Black Jack. The team came away with five awards, including first place finishes in the endurance, women’s speed and men’s speed events.

Other competitions at E-Fest East included the Old Guard Oral and Poster competitions, with first-place finishes by Joseph DaSilva of Western New England University and Kyle Hunter of the University of South Florida, respectively. Tennessee Tech came in first in the Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D (IAM3D) Challenge, a competition for products made with 3D printers, while students from the University of Mississippi took top honors at the Student Design Competition, a robotic pentathlon.


University of Wisconsin‒Madison students watch their robot attempt the difficult stair climb during the Student Design Competition pentathlon.

E-Fest East was much more than competition, however. The event featured two keynote presentations, including one by Amy Elliott, a researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. Elliott is well known for helping to popularize science and technology, due to appearances on television and in web series. Eva Håkansson, an engineer who holds the record as fastest woman motorcyclist with her KillaJoule electric motorcycle, was the event’s second keynote presenter. This was the second E-Fest appearance by Håkansson, who again brought her popular message to students, that “engineers can be superheroes.”

E-Fest East also featured workshops and lightning talks, with representatives from Autodesk, Siemens PLM, Southern Company, Nissan, NASA, Local Motors, Altair, and many more. Sponsors included Siemens PLM, Autodesk, Eastman Chemical, Altair, ANSYS, Maplesoft, Microsoft Surface and Denso.


George Mason University team members working in the rain on their vehicle, the Cerberus.

“Never before have I seen so many people from so many different groups come together so effectively in such a short time,” observed Amip Shah, chair of the ASME E-Fest Steering Committee and a roundtable participant. “The energy and passion of the students was simply amazing, as was the collaboration between ASME staff, volunteers, and our hosts at Tennessee Tech. I strongly believe that the magic of ASME happens when folks who wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths come together in service of a greater cause. That’s what I saw happen here with E-fest East, and I couldn’t be more delighted.”

As participants passed empty tents on wet paths as they crisscrossed the campus, it seemed as though they hardly missed sunny skies. “The rain has definitely made everything soggier,” said Lindsey Grissom, also a lead student volunteer at Tennessee Tech. “We were very worried when we saw lightning coming our way. But the entire team worked hard to get everything up and running again once we moved inside. The enthusiasm from the teams has not been dampened at all by the rain. It has definitely been worth it, even with the rain sometimes coming in torrential downpours.”

- Roger Torda, Communications