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Catapult Projects!

Your project will force you to explore new areas of math and science while you learn, explore and discover.

Past Projects

Analysis of Beams

How much material can be removed (and where) from a rectangular-shaped beam without changing the strength of the beam by more than, say five percent? Why? What shape gives the strongest beam and why? What is meant by "strength"?


You’ll design, test and analyze the strength and reliability of lightweight balsa wood trusses. This project provides an excellent introduction to engineering mechanics (statics) as well as the ground work for many subsequent design courses.

A male Catapult student working on a project involving a wooden model of a bridge


This project is great if you have never programmed or if you already know another programming language. If you have never programmed, this introductory course is for you! If you already know another programming language, but your high school doesn't offer Python, this would be a great opportunity to learn this language.

Operation Catapult students at Rose-Hulman work on a computer programming project.



Design, build and test a model submarine. Can you make it travel forward & backward, turn, and change depth?


Design, build and test a system which can use the energy in a "used" fluid, such as hot soapy water leaving a dishwasher, to heat fresh water.
Female Catapult student working on a large, silver solar oven.


Use a strain gauge and high-speed data acquisition system to measure the variation of thrust with burn time for model rocket motors.


Design, build and test a small-scale wind turbine to generate electricity.


Find the aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance and power required for various configurations of a person riding a bicycle. Optional: design, build and test a fairing for the bicycle.


Batteries are engineering marvels and represent the coupling of chemistry & engineering design. What are the components of a battery? Can a better battery be made using other materials such as aluminum and air? What about fuel cells?

Two female Catapult students working on a remote flying device project.


Use a wind tunnel to measure the lift, drag and pressure distribution on objects including aircraft, wings, spacecraft, automobiles, sports balls, etc. Use existing models or design and build your own.

Two Catapult students working on a wind tunnel project at Operation Catapult.


Design, build and test a small-scale hovercraft. Its largest dimension should not exceed 24 inches. During operation, it should be capable of controlled motion (start, stop, turn) and of traversing a flat surface (a floor) on which are fixed some 1/4 inch objects. It shall be built using just one small electric motor. There must be a safety guard around the propeller(s).


This project is a part of a program under way to educate engineering students and conduct research and actual studies in Forensic Engineering. Forensic Engineering is the engineering study and analysis of accidents or failures with the intent of understanding the cause, developing a repair and devising means of avoiding or reducing similar failures in the future.

A group of female Catapult students working together on a project.


Engineering research on the behavior and performance of "green" engineering materials versus the materials they would replace is ongoing throughout the world. Projects in this category evaluate the engineering behavior of materials that are in use or being proposed for use in civil engineering applications.

A group of male Catapult students wearing goggles and latex gloves working together on a project.


You can play catch by yourself by simply throwing a ball against a wall or a flexible net. But if you want to play catch with a Frisbee, you need a partner or you'll spend a lot of time chasing after the Frisbee. The purpose of this project is to design a device to throw a Frisbee. The device should be able to throw the Frisbee consistently a certain distance (say, 15 m) in a certain direction. An optional feature would be to have the device "catch" a thrown Frisbee and then return it.

Three male Catapult students testing their Frisbee throwing device.


Design and construct a trebuchet to hurl a golf ball as far and as accurately as possible. The design must be small enough to sit comfortably on a table top. No dimension of the trebuchet can be greater than 3 feet.

A  group of Catapult students working together on a project involving pieces of wood.

Rene Hankins

Rene Hankins

Want to know more about Operation Catapult? Contact Rene', Director of Pre-College Outreach
at 812-877-8220 or hankins@rose-hulman.edu.
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Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
5500 Wabash Avenue
Terre Haute, Indiana 47803
Phone: 800-248-7448

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