Launching pumpkins through the air continues to take on a new—and more technical—meaning at Rensselaer.

In a matter of a few weeks, two teams of students worked to design and build machines that could throw pumpkins. The second annual Pumkin Chunkin Competition, held on Sunday, Nov. 2, was hosted by members of the Rensselaer student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Teams of Rensselaer students were invited to construct launchers to see who could launch their pumpkin the farthest across ’86 Field with hopes of being crowned the “RPI Pumkin Chunkin Champion,” according to the ASME event organizers.

Punkin ChunkinThis year’s competition focused on distance and accuracy. Participating teams included ASME members Scott Murrullo ’16, treasurer, who is majoring in mechanical engineering; and Josh Bostick ’17, a sophomore with an undeclared major in engineering; along with Theta Chi fraternity members Anthony Pilla ’16, a civil engineering major; Austin Amery ’16, a mechanical engineering major, Jay Yaskanich ’15, a dual major in business and management;  and Conner McCrum ’17, a mechanical engineering major.

Each of the teams developed a trebuchet-style machine, which traditionally consists of an arm resting on an axle, which rests high on a base structure. The arm of the trebuchet is like an off-center see-saw with a huge counterweight on the short end and a sling attachment on the long end. The ASME machine dubbed “Conservation of Smash” was a traditional fixed-pivot trebuchet, with a 100-pound concrete counterweight. Theta Chi members created a floating arm trebuchet called “Theta Chi Diesel.”

John Malcovich ’15, a co-termninal student senior majoring in mechanical engineering, served as this year’s competition judge and ASME representative.

The Rensselaer ASME student chapter is a professional society that is open to any Rensselaer student. During the academic semester, the organization coordinates industry tours, a guest speaker series, along with a variety of engineering projects. Plans are underway for next year’s Pumpkin Chunkin competition. Official rules will be released early next September so teams can get started on their designs. The organization also hosts an ASME Robotics team that is open to all majors.  Presently, several teams are working on designs for an ASME design challenge titled “Robots for Relief.” According to Malcovich, the competition will take place at Rensselaer, with the best teams moving onto the regional level, and hopefully national ASME competitions.

For more information about the student chapter of the ASME, visit