The Citadel successfully combines community relations with siege warfare

Well, it’s been a tough year for The Citadel in basketball…and it was a tough year in football…and things aren’t looking so great in baseball right now, either (although it’s still early — patience, grasshoppers). However, it’s not all gloom and doom at the military college. For one thing, The Citadel again has demonstrated its dominance in trebuchet building!

Yes, the cadet chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers won its second straight title in the Storm The Citadel! Trebuchet Competition. It probably didn’t hurt that The Citadel hosted and co-sponsored the event.

I’m not really writing about winning as much as I am the event itself. It’s the second year The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence has teamed up with Google to sponsor the competition, which is really more about highlighting the importance of mathematics and science:

STEM Director Carolyn Kelley said the contest grew from 15 teams and 150 total participants last year to 36 teams and 350 people this year.

“In a very fun way, it engages kids in learning math and technology and science and engineering. It tricks them into enjoying STEM,” said Kelley.

While the kids had little, desktop-sized trebuchets, the big kids had big ones.

The star of Saturday’s show was Google’s giant “floating arm” trebuchet, a steel contraption that launched milk jugs filled with sand and water with amazing accuracy at a target about 75 yards away.

I was on campus last weekend, and in between watching football practice (which included some shotgun formations!) and a baseball game (The Citadel defeated Richmond, 10-7), I wandered around the parade ground, taking in the scene. The organizers were lucky, as the expected bad weather held off until late in the afternoon.

Instead, it was nice and sunny, and scores of kids and grownups watched and plotted and ate and generally had a good time. Some of them were dressed for the occasion, too, including a group of Sherwood Forest fans and a futuristic team wearing HAZMAT gear.

It’s always good when The Citadel can pull off an event like this (especially when it involves kids), one that brings the school a bit closer to the greater community, and exhibits another side to the college besides the military component, which can be intimidating to some people. The intent of this post, really, is just to say “job well done” to the folks who came up with this idea and made it work, which includes ’91 grad Jeff Stevenson, a program manager at Google.

I should add the trebuchet competition was just part of Engineering Week at The Citadel, which featured some other activities for math-inclined youngsters.

I took a few pictures. As usual, they aren’t so great (because I’m the photographer), but I’ve posted them below anyway. You can also see a slide show of photos taken by actual professionals at The Citadel’s YouTube channel.

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