TULSA, Okla. -- Employees from the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers volunteered their time to help judge the 31st annual Tulsa Engineering Challenge themed 'Engineers: Invent Amazing,' held at Tulsa Tech Riverside Campus, Mar. 1, 2019.TECh promotes youth interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies and careers with this annual challenge event. It provides a hands on opportunity for youth to explore problem solving, designing and construction of devices that accomplish pre-defined tasks.Originating in 1989, this Tulsa Engineering Foundation challenge continues to attract more than a thousand youth from northeast Oklahoma each year. Making it the largest STEM event in Tulsa.This year approximately 1200 fourth to twelve grade students competed in a multitude of events to include categories such as tooth pick building, rubber band powered vehicles, robots, ping pong launchers and more. Many of those are pre-registered events, but students may also compete in walk-up events the day of, or just observe and explore the exhibitor's activities on site. Some of this year's exhibitors included Magic Chemistry and Physics show, 3D Floodplain Model, Welding Simulator, FabLab Tulsa and more."As the 'Nation's Engineers' we owe it to our country to participate in events like this to get America's youth excited about careers in STEM fields," said Col Christopher Hussin, Tulsa District Commander, one of several District personnel that volunteered their time to judge the Ping-Pong Launcher category with the Society of American Military Engineers. The premise of this specific event was to design, build and test a ping-pong ball launcher powered by a common household mousetrap that will propel as many ping-pong balls as possible into a target."Students have so much access to virtual technology now that hands on applications like this are so important, and provide an opportunity for teamwork and creativity," discussed Carey Baker and Betcy Kalapura, parents of two fifth graders that teamed up to compete in the ping-pong launcher competition.Approximately three hundred students participated in this event in teams of two to three students at a time. As students put their self-engineered masterpieces to the test, USACE and SAME judges evaluate them on a point system of design, operation and success. Scores were totaled resulting in First, Second and Third place awards for teams in each of the Lower, Middle, and Upper Division sections.