Ben Boersma — Staff Writer
The sun shone golden over campus last Wednesday. Friends and classmates gathered that evening in the engineering projects lab, affectionately called the Low Bay, for a pancake supper followed by the annual Eggs and Break’n contest sponsored by the Dordt Mechanical Engineering Club.
Seniors Ryan Vermeer and Matthew Frazeur started the tradition last year, with a large turnout. About 21 people participated in the contest last year to see who could come up with the best protection for a raw egg. This year, they encouraged more people to come by hosting a pancake supper beforehand. Engineering professor Nolan Van Gaalen brought some extra supplies to help.
Almost immediately, the group ran into some trouble. Recent remodeling in the engineering wing led to additional storage above the Low Bay. Vermeer went to grab some Styrofoam cups from one of the storage rooms.
“My card hasn’t been updated, so I can’t access the materials,” Vermeer told Van Gaalen when he gets back. They decided to make do and started making the pancakes.
A few minutes later, the first competitors arrived. Vermeer put the first pancake on a plate beside him.
“Fresh pancake,” he said. “Pancake. Singular. Nose goes for who gets it.”
More pancakes quickly followed, along with more competitors. Soon, nine students, most of them freshmen, sat around the griddle, each with a plate of pancakes.
Dordt’s mechanical engineering club is part of a much larger organization known as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). According to Van Gaalen, Dordt’s chapter of the club was founded in 1992. They used to go to events and competitions throughout the Midwest. But as the national organization grew, they combined several regional groups together, leaving schools such as Dordt to find their own place in the changing landscape. Frazeur, who is the club’s vice president, and Vermeer, who is the treasurer, want to find ways to increase participation in Dordt’s engineering clubs. Non-engineering students are welcomed, even encouraged to come to events.
As the pancake supper winds down, Vermeer and Frazeur brought out supplies for the egg drop contest. Scattered on the open tables were a bag of popsicle sticks, some straws, two rolls of thin twine, a hot glue gun, a couple rolls of packaging tape, some old sales flyers, and the last issue of the Diamond. Some people formed teams of two or three while the rest worked alone.
Vermeer set an unofficial time limit of however long it took him to finish his entry. He took some popsicle sticks and glued them into a circular frame using the hot glue gun, then took one straw for each corner and bent them into a basketlike shape to hold the egg. Some twine and one of the sales flyers doubled as a parachute. Since he and Frazeur were hosting the contest, they decided that they could participate, but they wouldn’t be allowed to win any prizes.
Frazeur examined Vermeer’s progress. “It looks like a gazebo,” he said. After a brief exchange, he returned to his entry, a roll of newspaper around the egg supported by straws at the bottom.
One of the freshmen, Chris Dyk, built a lattice of straws around his egg and wrapped the middle section in twine. Two other freshmen, Bennett Marstall and Kendall Snyder, made a cage out of popsicle sticks with straws on the ends with the egg wrapped in newspaper and suspended within the frame by twine.
Once everyone was finished, they took their entries over to the middle of the Low Bay. A twelve-foot ladder loomed above various machines and senior design projects. Around the ladder was a tarp, spread open to contain any damage to the eggs. One by one, each person took their entry to the top of the ladder and dropped it onto the tarp. Each one hit with a strangely satisfying thud.
No one managed to keep their eggs intact, but three entries protected the egg enough to keep the contents from spilling out. Dyk’s entry, which he called “the Spaghetti Monster,” took second place for the least amount of cracked shell, while Marstall and Snyder’s “Floating Egg” took first place. Vermeer’s entry, aptly called “The Gazebo,” also protected his egg well; but since he was the host, he could not win any prizes.
“I wish we’d had some more people there,” said Vermeer. “But the people who came were a lot of fun. And it doesn’t always matter how many you have as long as it’s a fun crowd.”