Students from St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling won the 20th Pumpkin Drop Friday (Oct. 26) at the West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Teams from the Mon Youthbuild Program, which serves Monongalia, Marion, Taylor and Preston counties, and St. Marys High School in St. Marys placed second and third, respectively, in the annual pumpkin-tossing extravaganza that attracted 134 teams from more than 20 schools.

This turned out to be a fun-filled, exciting event, and we extend our congratulations to the winners, as well as our appreciation to all the students who participated so enthusiastically despite the rain we had today,said Jeff Byerly, president of the WVU student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which sponsored the event with the college.

Students released packages they designed to protect their pumpkins as the fruit fell 11 stories from atop the Engineering Sciences Building on the WVU Evansdale Campus. Hundreds of spectators watched the devicesmade from materials as diverse as PVC pipe, bungee cords and toilet paper rollsplummet toward a target on the ground. The team whose pumpkin got closest without bursting was declared the winner.

Twenty-four pumpkins remained intact, and the survivor dropped by St. Michael Parish School students landed closest to take the top honors.

The St. Michael Parish School studentspumpkin landed 4 feet 6 inches from the target to claim the $50 first place prize. Team members are Matthew Velazquez, Austin Grendel and Gage Seeholzer.

Mon Youthbuilds entry stopped 5 feet 6 inches from the target to finish second. Students Mark Craig, Ryan Lak, Mike Luzader, Alex Meredith, Justin Stover and John Stull will share the $25 prize.

The device launched by St. Marys High School students came in third, landing 8 feet 5 inches from the bulls-eye. Team members are Daniel L. Sayres and Clinton McClure. Their prize is $10.

The competition raised $1,470 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Morgantown, which provides free lodging for families of hospitalized children.

Were very appreciative of everything ASME and WVU have done to help make this event possible,said Kim George, director of Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown.The University is a good community partner.

The Pumpkin Drop is an important outreach to get kids to think of engineering as a potential career,said John Kuhlman, a professor in the WVU Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.Participating in the event helps get students excited about learning and illustrates engineering as a problem-solving profession.