UMary engineering students get more real-world experience with obstacle course

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University of Mary professors are going the extra mile to give engineering students a more hands-on experience. A friendly racing competition took place at the college earlier Monday.

“It’s been really good to kind of see what the real engineering world is like, even in just a very small capacity,” said Mara Dalton, civil engineering student,

Students have been working since last October to design and build cars to race along an obstacle course. The goal isn’t just to win bragging rights, but instead, create opportunities that weren’t there before.

“The purpose of this course is to have them working with other engineers, other engineering disciplines early on, but also expose them to the design process. Almost every system that is designed is a multidisciplinary system,” said Eric Garcia, assistant professor of civil engineering.

You might not know it, but engineers are behind most of the things we use every day.

“There is a demand for engineers, particularly in western North Dakota. So, we have this program, partially to meet that,” said Garcia.

Garcia tells us this kind of coursework is usually only done with seniors, but now they’re switching gears.

“Our meetings and talks with industry people saying that they felt graduates weren’t typically prepared for the workplace yet, we felt that it was important that in order to get them more prepared for the workplace, that they get exposed to designing and being creative earlier on,” said Garcia.

Sophomores are now being given a head start. They tell us they welcome the challenge.

“So, this type of experience, actually getting to apply things that you learn in the classroom, make something that actually works is in the real world. That’s incredible. That’s very important. All the theory in the world does you no good if you can’t actually build something that works in the end,” said John Soupir, electrical engineering student.

Garcia says the goal is to continue these efforts with younger students so they can be more prepared for life after UMary.

UMary’s graduation ceremony is also coming up Saturday, April 24 at the Bismarck Event Center. There will be two ceremonies in order to allow for social distancing.

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