Hill AFB hosts Engineers Week

PAUL HOLCOMB/U.S. Air Force
Scott Stebbins, a BAE mechanical engineer, attracts and pulls ferrous material suspended in liquid to the top of a jar during a magnetic levitation challenge Feb. 23 at Hill Aerospace Museum. The challenge—Levitate!—was part of National Engineers Week events.
PAUL HOLCOMB/U.S. Air Force
Paul Stout, 516th Software Maintenance Squadron electronics engineer, levitates a 3.7-ounce magnet using a functional magnetic levitation system. Stout, along with other professional engineers, participated in Levitate! as part of National Engineers Week. The magnet levitated nearly 4 inches high on the pencil.
PAUL HOLCOMB/U.S. Air Force
Paul Stout, 516th Software Maintenance Squadron electronics engineer, explains magnetic principles to judges and onlookers Feb. 23 at the Hill Aerospace Museum. Stout, along with other professional engineers, participated in a magnetic levitation challenge as part of National Engineers Week.
PAUL HOLCOMB/U.S. Air Force
American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics teammates explain their magnetic levitation system to judges and onlookers Feb. 23 at the Hill Aerospace Museum. The AIAA team participated in a levitation challenge as part of National Engineers Week events.
75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
March 2, 2017

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Several base organizations hosted engineering events here and at other northern Utah locations during National Engineers Week, Feb. 21-25.

Since 1951, National Engineers Week is an annual event sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers. It is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

“Hill Air Force Base recognizes its role in the community as an engineering leader,” said Casey Munger, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center electronics engineer, “and actively seeks to encourage, recruit and retain the best talent base in order to maintain and build the U.S. Air Force going forward. National Engineers Week is a public way for Hill AFB to participate in the encouragement of these values and skills.” 

A key event was the levitation challenge—titled Levitate!—held at the Hill Aerospace Museum, Feb. 23.

The objective of Levitate! was for participants to build functional magnetic levitation systems. Honors were given in a range of areas from heaviest object levitated to greatest vertical distance levitated. 

The most interesting object levitated also received honors. 

“Magnetic levitation is an active area of research in areas of transportation, nuclear fusion, cell biology, space environment and bearing design,” said Munger. “It is conceptually easy to understand and has touched the imagination of most people who have played with two bar magnets. It has an undeniable beauty as the laws of gravity seem to be put in abeyance. However, it is tricky, if not difficult, to achieve.” 

Besides the challenge, Levitate! also provided inspiration to the professional engineers who participated. 

“This is a good challenge for our engineers and gives them pause to think about the controls, mathematics, physics, electronics, magnetism, geometry, field theory, timing and a myriad of other topics that attracted them to engineering in the first place,” said Munger. “For some of the younger participants it gives them an opportunity to weigh in on and consider engineering ideas, theories and practices that will appeal to them in their careers.”

Other events here and at Weber State University included presentations by university students, a Rube Goldberg team demonstration, lectures and a banquet.

“It was a chance for us to come together as engineers and have a fun competition,” said Braden Mabey, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center electronics engineer.