BYU Engineering students aim high in bow design contest

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Golf clubs, steel, skis and mattress springs are only some of the materials BYU engineering students used to craft their bows for the fifth annual “Nephi’s steel bow competition.”

The competition, started by mechanical engineering professor Anton Bowden, gives engineering students the opportunity to apply what they learn in class to a real design situation. Teams and individuals submit bows that they design and build themselves.

“As a young engineer, you don’t do a lot,” Bowden said. “This is a chance to try something that isn’t too hard to get involved in.”

The bows are divided into two categories based on what they are made of — all steel or mixed materials. Bowden encouraged students to use only steel to make their bows. He said steel is not an ideal material for making bows, but Nephi had to do it in the Book of Mormon. Bowden wanted to give students the same engineering challenge.

Mark Fillmore, a junior from American Fork studying manufacturing engineering, said he got all of the materials for his six bows from Deseret Industries and the trash can.

“I used golf clubs, tennis rackets and skis,” Fillmore said. “You can find raw materials in something else. I’m a student, and I don’t like to spend a lot of money, so I got everything at DI (Deseret Industries) except for what I found in the trash.”

The bows win based on how far the arrows fly. All the bows are shot twice under the same force, and the arrow that goes the farthest overall wins. Other prizes are given for the farthest arrow in the all-steel category and best design.

Ezekiel Merriam, a second-year graduate student in mechanical engineering, has participated in the competition before and was last year’s champion.

“This is the same bow I made when I was a sophomore,” Merriam said. “I’ve been refining it, and if I lose this year I’ll go into deeper analysis.”

Ashleigh Fullwood, a freshman from England, won this year’s overall competition with a bow she originally made for her Halloween costume. Her bow shot an arrow 101 yards.

“I was Hawkeye from ‘The Avengers,'” Fullwood said. “My friend just bought a bow, and mine has a similar design. I was super surprised that I won because I’m a freshman, and I didn’t make the bow for the competition.”

Fullwood said the competition helped her see the fun in real engineering work, and she is excited to continue in the civil engineering program.

“It was a lot of work and a lot of stress,” Fullwood said. “But it showed me how fun designing and building something can be.”

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