Introduce Women to Engineering
Introduce Women to Engineering


Contest Questions


Question 1

In a microfluidic therapy device, blood is pumped through a series of channels with semicircular cross sections. The device’s design enables the blood to flow at a constant rate.
In one portion, a single channel forks into two smaller channels of equal radius. 
If the prior, larger channel has a radius of 200 um, what is the radius of the smaller channels?


Question 2

A space shuttle is in an orbit that is 300 miles high, around a planet with a radius of 51,499 kilometers and a mass-to-radius ratio of 10^15 kg/m.
Find the escape velocity of the planet and the orbital speed of the shuttle.


Question 3

You need to make helium from scratch. You don’t have helium or any helium-containing compounds, but you do have access to a small lab with a sample of every other element on the periodic table.
What is the simplest way to make a very small quantity of helium?


Question 4

Draper’s “Take Me Home” button for spacesuits allows astronauts to guide themselves back to spacecraft during an emergency.
A) If an astronaut weighing 80 kilograms is traveling away from the spacecraft at a constant 5.4 m/s when  the button is pressed, what magnitude of force is necessary by the spacesuit’s thrusters to stop the astronaut’s motion in 10 meters? Provide the answer in Newtons and assume no friction is present in space.
B) The astronaut is now 50 meters away from the spacecraft. Using the answer from A), find how many seconds it takes the spacesuit to return the astronaut to the spacecraft.


Question 5

Alexandra is crossing an intersection when she hears an emergency siren, and she can’t tell if the siren is in front of her or behind her. Even though her ability to process amplitude differences is hampered by a mild ear infection, turning her head helps determine the location because of her natural ability to detect slight time delays.

Use the data and idealizations below to answer questions A) and B).

c = speed of sound in air = 340 m/s
d = diameter of Alexandra’s head = 20 cm
L= distance from ear to siren
DL = change in distance 
q = angle through which Alexandra turns her head. q is small and small angle approximations can be assumed.

A) Research shows that the smallest time delay a human can process is approximately 10 microseconds. What is the smallest angle Alexandra can turn her head in order to decide if the vehicle is in front of or behind her? Provide the answer in degrees and round to the nearest whole degree.

B) Research also shows that humans can best localize pure tones effectively when the phase difference detected by the ears is approximately 90 degrees. For a typical person with a head diameter (ear-to-ear distance) of 20 cm, what is the frequency (in Hz) that gives a 90-degree phase difference between the ears?


Essay Question

Virtual Reality immerses users in interactive visualizations—providing a valuable tool for engineering. By enabling engineers to verify precise details in simulation, VR can significantly reduce the risks and costs involved with complex projects, bringing new potential to the design and development process.

Within one or more of Draper’s engineering areas below, describe how you could leverage Virtual Reality to engineer a solution to a problem of your choosing. Consider how VR would address specific challenges related to the engineering, and what makes these capabilities significant.

  • Positioning, Navigation & Timing
  • Precision Instrumentation
  • Fault-tolerant Systems
  • Human-centered Solutions
  • Biomedical Solutions
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Microsystems
  • Secure & Assured Systems
  • Human-centered Solutions
  • Image & Data Analytics
  • Materials Engineering & Microfabrication

You can click here to read a description of each engineering area.

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