BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Want to know why your footfalls echo more
loudly on bare floors than on those that are carpeted?
It's due to something called the "noise reduction coefficient"
and University at Buffalo students Rahul S. Thakkar, a senior
electrical engineering and mathematics double major, and Vivek
Kamath, a graduate computer science major who completed his studies
in December, know all about this principle. They also know the
melting point of nylon 6, the density of high-volume fly ash
concrete, and the uses for methyl ethyl ketone peroxide.
Correct answers to questions about these topics (and more like
them) helped the two UB students place very highly in the 2011
Knovel University Challenge. The challenge is a series of questions
on engineering-related topics presented by Knovel, a web-based
company that combines industry-specific information, analytical
capabilities and search tools in applications designed to assist
engineers and applied scientists in their research.
Thakkar won the grand prize and beat out 5,600 students from 600
universities in 93 countries in order to walk away with an iPad 2.
Additionally, Kamath was one of 17 other students to win a prize.
UB was the only institution represented by multiple winners.
Two hundred eighteen UB students achieved correct answers 328
times in the sixth annual competition. UB's high number of student
submissions to the competition ensured that the university was
guaranteed entry into another "contest-within-a-contest," one
reserved for those schools with outstanding participation. Kamath
was one of eight winners of that smaller competition and received
an iPod nano.
In this year's version of the challenge, students could choose a
series of questions from various levels of difficulty and had to
correctly answer at least three of the questions presented.
According to Virgil Wong, marketing associate for Knovel, the
contest allowed students to submit two incorrect answers before
being forced to exit the program and restart the challenge. Due to
the multiple difficulty levels, there were over 12,000 entries in
this year's competition -- a 55 percent increase in participation
from last year.
In order to enter the contest, the participants had to use
Knovel's resources to answer the questions. The specialized
full-text database is one of many available to UB students. What
makes Knovel's resource unique, according to Nancy Schiller, UB
engineering librarian in the UB Sciences and Engineering Library,
are its dynamic, interactive features. "For about 1,000 engineering
handbooks, Knovel has programmed the tables and graphs so they're
not static and instead will solve for different variables,"
Schiller said. She hopes that by inviting students to compete in
the competition, they will become more familiar with the resources
available at the UB Libraries.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue
their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the
University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American