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Engineer’s Week at Minco

By John Baichtal

Minco is an engineering firm first and foremost, and in fact our Engineering department consists of about one-sixth of our 650 employees. Because of this, we always take time to observe National Engineer’s Week (NEW), which falls on February 18-22 in 2019.

NEW was created in 1951 to coincide with the birthday of George Washington, considered to be the nation’s first engineer for his pre-Revolution surveying career. Over 50 corporations and governmental agencies as well as 70 cultural organizations and engineering societies honor this week.

While the entirety of Minco celebrates NEW — the Customer Service team treated the engineers to root beer floats — the biggest celebration involves Engineering’s internal luncheon put on by department managers. This year’s event took place on Thursday of National Engineer’s Week and included a trivia competition, a luncheon, and an engineering challenge.

Trivia Challenge 

The trivia portion of the event led participants through a list of serious and goofy inventions and posed the question: have they been patented? Some of the inventions came straight out of Minco: High Temperature Heating Chuck, for instance, corresponds with the company’s patent US 9,100,992. On the other hand, the question about optically transparent heaters , referring to our Thermal-Clear™ product, was not patented. The challenge included some questionable patents: Smiley Face Emoticon (no patent), High Five Machine (patent!), and Portable Nuclear Shield (also patented).

There was also a tiebreaker: Working off the assumption that kinetic energy is converted into thermal energy, approximately how fast do you have to slap a chicken to cook it?

  • The formula for converting between kinetic energy and thermal energy is 1/2mv^2 –mcT.
  • The average human hand weighs about 0.4kg and the average slap has a velocity of 11m/s.
  • An average rotisserie chicken weighs 1kg, has a specific heat capacity of 2,720 J/kg*c, and it must reach a temperature of 205C to be considered cooked–the chicken starts off frozen.
  • It turns out a single average slap would increase temperature about 0.0089 degrees C, therefore taking 23,000 average slaps to cook the chicken. To cook the chicken in just one slap, you would have to hit it with a velocity of 1,665.65 m/s or 3,725.95 mph. 

The tiebreaker posed a special challenge because it was conducted without access to the Internet and on a constrained time limit. Congrats to the winning team for getting the chicken question right, beating out four other teams with an answer that was just 1.23 MPH closer to the right answer than the competition.

Engineering Challenge 

After trivia and lunch, the engineers took on a group challenge: use 8 sheets of copy paper and 3 pieces of masking tape to create a structure that projects from the edge of a table without touching the floor. The team whose creation extended the greatest distance off the table would win.

Most teams settled on rolling the paper into narrow tubes and linking them together into a longer tube, then supporting the resulting structure with a combination of tape and smaller cantilevered towers constructed out of more paper tubes. The winning team’s structure (pictured above) extended 85.25 inches from the table, earning them fame as Minco’s 2019 Engineering Challenge winners.

Congratulations to the event’s winners and kudos to engineers everywhere for keeping the world working.


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