Nebraska Engineering Fall, 2005
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Russets Win Potato Gun Challenge

Russets Win Potato Gun ChallengeUsing one of the most significant engineering advancements of the 20th century, students in architectural engineering demonstrated their tremendous knowledge of thermodynamic principles when several teams took on the challenge of refining the design of the potato gun.

Although many may argue that transistors, lasers and digital computers are more useful and far more technologically advanced, none of them has the capability of putting potatoes where they need to be in a rapid and efficient manner. That said, there are many different levels of ability and quality among potato gun designs, which run the gamut from utilitarian to pretty to just plain big.

So, in a bid to dig up the best design concept, the Potato Gun Design Teams competed in a comparative test of ballistic accuracy. The goal was to propel a potato 80 yards—but only one team came close: The Russets. The potato gun designed by team members Jeff Hargens, Brian Kolm and Kenny Reed (inset, from left to right) propelled a russet potato that was just two inches off the mark. That’s better than most people could do with a rifle (considering that the target was horizontal), no matter how pretty it is.