By EMILY ZEKONIS
The Daily Athenaeum
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “WARNING: Many pumpkins are harmed during this event!”, says the WVU Chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers in preparation for the 30th annual Pumpkin Drop.
The pumpkin drop event began in 1987, created and promoted by ASME members Doug Velegol and Jim Webb. Thanks to Webb’s promotional efforts 30 years ago, the event has grown to include over 350 participants for the 2017 drop.
Although today’s event is seen as a huge success, when planning the inaugural event the plan was nearly shut down. Webb was called into administration when news of the first event hit local radio stations.
“In preparation for the big event when I was approached by Vicki, Dr. Lyons’ Admin, and was informed that Dr. Lyons wanted to see me in his office,” said Webb. “he heard someone on the local radio station talking about the pumpkin drop at the Engineering building later that day and asked if that was me on the radio. After visions of my diploma evaporating flashed through my head, I swallowed hard and affirmed that it was me.”
Much to the surprise of Webb, Lyons face quickly spread into a grin and the event went off with a huge success.
“Two TV station camera crews were at the event that year, the rest is history” said Webb. “To this day, I’m not sure if I got Dr. Lyons into any hot water that first year, but it sure is cool to see the event persist to this day.”
Today, the event acts as a huge attraction for community members of all ages from the local area and region to get involved with the university and celebrate the Halloween season.
“A surprisingly large number of pumpkins survive the fall,” said Scott Wayne, the faculty advisor for WVU ASME. “Well over a hundred pumpkins survive intact, which makes it hard to determine the winners. Competitors have figured out what works and what doesn’t.”
Students come to the event with a unique creation to protect their pumpkin from the 11 story fall from the top of the WVU Engineering Sciences building. Pumpkins that survive the fall and land closest to the target are named the winners, along with those with the most unique designs.
Teams must pay an entry fee of $10 to drop their pumpkin, with all registration funds being donated to the Ronald McDonald House.
“It is an excellent opportunity to get students of all ages excited about science math engineering and technology fields,” said Wayne. ” I would also encourage more of our engineering students to take the ‘Am I Smarter than a 5th Grader’ challenge and see how they can stack up against some of these highly competitive K-12 teams.”
The 30th annual pumpkin drop is free and open to the pumpkin. Participants and interested audience members will gather at the Engineering Sciences building beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 27 to see which pumpkin’s survive the fall.
For more information on the pumpkin drop and ASME visit https://www.statler.wvu.edu/outreach/pumpkin-drop.
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