Virginia Tech’s Society of American Military Engineers, known as SAME, post is hosting a trebuchet competition against VMI this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

The teams will compete on the soccer fields behind the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center located at the corner of Southgate Drive and Tech Center Drive. This inaugural competition will be another great event in the long-standing rivalry between the Corps of Cadets and VMI.

The Society of American Military Engineers is an organization that promotes and develops connections between military, public and private sector engineers. It also helps foster interest in engineering among all of those groups. The post at Virginia Tech was established in 1937, making it one of the oldest Honorary Military Societies within the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Trebuchets are an old fashioned type of siege engine that came before catapults. They use a counterweight to launch a projectile. Each team will design, build, and fire a trebuchet, gaining points for the distance travelled by the projectile. The rules and regulations provide a strict challenge for each team. Since the throwing arm is capped at 10 feet long, teams must research effective designs for trebuchets and enhance them if they want to beat the competition. The counterweight can be anywhere up to 750 pounds. With this high of a weight, the trebuchets will be subject to intense forces. The risk of a trebuchet failure is greater if ample supports are not used, but the projectiles, cantaloupes for this competition, will be capable of flying hundreds of feet before touchdown.

Both teams have been hard at work since the beginning of February on their designs. Come see the event where tensions will run high, cantaloupes will smash, and trebuchets will be put into a trial by fire.

Free parking is available in the Lower Chicken Hill Parking Lot located on the corner of Southgate Drive and Tech Center Drive. Also the Health and Safety Lot is available on Tech Center Drive. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200.

This article was written by Cadet David Sinclair of Virginia Beach, Va., a sophomore majoring in general engineering in the College of Engineering and is a recipient of the W. Thomas Rice ’34 Emerging Leader Scholarship. Sinclair is a member of the Air Force ROTC program and is in charge of the Virginia Tech SAME trebuchet team.
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