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Punkin’ Chunkin’ Gives Students Pumpkin to Talk About

Students with Punkin Chunker

During fall, there are many traditions in Indiana. We expect crunchy colorful leaves, pumpkin-spiced goods, hoodies and crisp weather. The star of the season is, naturally, the pumpkin. Many utilize this variety of squash to bake goods or to carve and decorate, but at Purdue, an up-and-coming club views this gourd with greater purpose.

Punkin’ Chunkin’, a club founded this year, provides a place for teams to work together and construct trebuchets and catapults to send pumpkins launching through the air. Teams research different trebuchet and catapult designs, get inspired and create their own unique designs to build a pumpkin launcher that packs a punch.

Jacob Bell, founder and president of Punkin' Chunkin', discusses why he created the pumpkin launching club.  

“The reason I created Punkin' Chunkin' is it’s a good way for people to take an enjoyment for skills in the field of engineering and apply it to something fun and stress-free,” he remarks. “It’s something people haven’t heard of and it's kind of outlandish, but using skills from school for something fun is a great experience to have on campus.” 

SAO-punkin-chunkin-group.jpgFor the design process, work is divided between different teams. A structures team builds the trebuchet and provides structural input, while the main structures team is divided into sub-teams. Each sub-team is tasked with researching potential designs and building a basic pros and cons list. When they are done with this step, the club votes on which idea is best. Once voting occurs, the project moves towards the design team which implements the structure team’s work and starts a 3D design.  

Bell emphasizes the importance of encouraging engagement and fun when beginning projects. 

“We’re building trebuchets and catapults so we try to pick a design people can be excited about,” he says. “We ask people to find what interests them and to tell us why.” 

Though this semester the trebuchet being built is on a much smaller scale to model the functions of a larger working trebuchet, the club plans on building a much larger trebuchet next semester. 
Balancing club activities with school can be a challenge, but Bell is always ready to tackle any challenge that comes his way.  

punkin-chunkin-in-action.jpg“It’s nice being able to draw inspiration from my classes,” he emphasizes. “I was a private contractor on top of being an aerospace engineering student and of course, I was involved with clubs. It’s a lot and I don’t have much free time, but I love being busy and having a club outlet to get away from the stress with a fun project. It gives me a break while still being able to apply myself and grow as a person.” 

Furthering his point, he discusses what he’s learned in his time with the club.  

“The club teaches people how to solve real-world problems,” Bell says. “When you’re tackling designing a trebuchet or catapult, you aren’t dealing with problems off the page of a textbook. You have to be able to think outside of the box and know that there’s no right or wrong answer – it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best.” Though the club is only in its first semester, the next steps ahead are looking bright. When asked about the future of the club, Bell sets his goals.  

“The ultimate goal is a world record for a pumpkin,” Bell says. “A closer goal I would love to do is have an event where we invite a lot of people out and do a fall fest for people to watch us. We will have food, people will watch our trebuchets and catapults perform, and it will be an amazing community experience once we’ve built them.” 

In its first semester, the organization already has 90 members and is still looking to expand its membership. Members come from a wide variety of majors and backgrounds, and all are encouraged to join. 

SAO-punkin-chunkin-meeting.jpgBell emphasizes, “If people are interested in it, it’s such a unique idea that anyone should check it out. It’s unlike any other clubs on campus so it’s a cool thing that should come check out. We have a wide variety of members. Business, pharmacy, construction management and supply chain, all are welcome and you definitely don’t have to be an engineer to get in on the fun.”  

There are two ways to get involved in Punkin’ Chunkin’. If you are interested, either send a message to their Linkedin or fill out their interest form on Instagram. Explore teamwork, engineering and physics with this incredible club no matter your major! 

Written by: Hannah Williamson, Writing and Communications Intern, Student Life Marketing