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Promoting Interest In Engineering In The Local Community By “Walking On Water”

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Design for Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.954.1 - 8.954.12



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Paper Authors

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Susan Lord

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2003-1308

Promoting Interest in Engineering in the Local Community by “Walking On Water”

Leonard A. Perry Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

Abstract San Diego, California is home to many high-tech companies requiring the services of engineers. The engineering department at the University of San Diego (USD) has responded to the need to promote the field of Engineering and its importance in society through its annual Walk On Water (WOW) Competition. In this event, participants design, construct, and pilot their shoes across a 25-meter pool. WOW is organized by the engineering student societies at USD and sponsored by industry and businesses within the local community.

The WOW event is also used as a fun design project for teams of first-year engineering students at USD. Utilizing the engineering design process introduced in the classroom, student teams must consider three important design considerations: buoyancy, stability, and propulsion. In Fall 2002, the engineering students visited local high schools to present how they applied the engineering design process to design Walk On Water shoes. This service-learning project reinforces the USD students’ comprehension of the design process and helps them develop their communication skills while encouraging younger students to consider engineering careers.

Walk On Water at USD is a great learning experience that serves several purposes. It is a design project for freshmen engineering majors at USD, a project for high school science classes, an event which creates awareness of engineering in the local community, a forum for interaction of high school and college students, and a vehicle for upper-class engineering students to develop skills in planning and executing an event including fundraising and publicity.

The paper will introduce the WOW event and then show how the competition provides a vessel to promote engineering and applied science throughout many areas within the local community.


The annual Walk On Water (WOW) competition has been hosted and coordinated by the University of San Diego (USD) for 12 years. The competition’s goal is to promote engineering and applied science in the local community. Participants design, construct, and pilot water shoes across a 25 meter swimming pool. They must consider three important design considerations: buoyancy, stability, and propulsion. The entire experience allows them to gain experience at applying the engineering design process and solving open-ended engineering problems.

The competition brings together competitors from local universities, colleges, and high schools. The college and university student competitors are from the University of San Diego (USD), San Diego State University (SDSU), the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and Southwestern Community College. The high schools represented are located throughout southern California. La Jolla, Poway, and Eastlake high schools provide a large percentage of the competitors. Figure 1 shows spectators watching as students trek across the pool.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Lord, S. (2003, June), Promoting Interest In Engineering In The Local Community By “Walking On Water” Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11562

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