OPERATION CATAPULT

OperationCatapult

"Nerdvana."
  That's the word high school senior Charles Angelastro affectionately used to describe Operation Catapult, Rose- Hulman's groundbreaking educational program that has charted the course of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians for the past 46 years.
  "This was an incredible experience," says the Newburg, California, teenager. "My mother thought it would be good for me; however, I was skeptical. Instead, I wanted to spend more time this summer with my friends back home. I ended up spending a great time here making dozens of new friends with whom I have so much in common."
  He wasn't alone in having a great

time, as this summer's two, 2½-week adventures may have been our best ever. A record 310 students from 36 states and five countries participated in hands-on engineering projects and enjoyed an early slice of the college life.
  Started by visionary educators Herman Moench and Al Schmidt, Operation Catapult provides high-school students their first experiences in applied engineering and science. They discover such topics as biofuels distillation and alcohol fuel gels, examine aerodynamics through wind- and water-tunnel testing, explore rapid prototyping technology, and create computer games and micro-controlled vehicles. They have also designed Frisbeethrowing devices, M&M sorting machines,
portable showers, trebuchets, railrunners, and model hovercrafts.
  "We throw students into engineering and give them a push in the right direction," says Mechanical Engineering Professor Patsy Brackin, Ph.D., who has been directing the program since 2005. "We want students to learn about the method of scientific discovery and have lots of fun along that journey."
  One of this summer's biggest discoveries had 10 students creating a first-of-its-kind soy-based ink, plastic, and delivery system for the Indiana Soybean Alliance. The ink formula was perfected by three young men; a trio of young women developed a method for making biodegradable soy-based plastic; and a