First-year engineering students at Penn State Berks put their problem-solving skills to the test when they were tasked with designing and constructing escape room puzzles for their engineering design introductory course. Chuck Stricker, assistant teaching professor of engineering, guided the students throughout the process.
Students used 3D printers, laser cutters, and Arduino microcontroller boards to create their escape room puzzles, courtesy of the Berks LaunchBox.
One student group’s cryptex (a portable vault used to hide secret messages) involved lining up letters to spell the word “LIONS” on the correct alignment indentations to unlock what was inside — a Penn State Berks engineering keychain.
Another group created an electro-mechanical escape room box. On top, there was a set of rings that, when aligned properly, formed a picture of the Nittany Lion, and provided the next clue to unlock the box. On the outside of the drawing of the Nittany Lion, there were four circles with lines pointing in different directions, which indicated which ways to turn the dials on the bottom side of the box.
After the dials were correctly aligned, that portion of the box came off and unveiled another puzzle, which asked, “What year was Penn State founded?” By flipping switches to indicate 1855 as the correct answer, a tiny side door unlocked to reveal two pennies as the hidden objects.
Engineering Design 100, the cornerstone engineering design course, provides students with the foundation in engineering design. Students gain hands-on experience through various team projects that address specified design opportunities.