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Dartmouth engineers solutions to binge drinking

Dec 05, 2011   |   by Holly Ramer   |   Associated Press via The Seattle Times

A few years ago, students in Dartmouth's introductory engineering class invented a bicycle wheel to help young children maintain their balance. A recent challenge for the current class? Tipsy college students.

When professor John Collier learned that Dartmouth President Jim Young Kim planned to visit his class, he decided to have students show off their problem-solving skills by attacking a social problem instead of an engineering dilemma. Binge drinking—defined as consuming five alcoholic drinks in two hours for men and four drinks in two hours for women—was an obvious choice, given the national initiative Kim launched last spring aimed at reducing excessive drinking on college campuses. And it was a topic that students had plenty of experience with.

"They leapt at it," Collier said. "They came up with a ton of really interesting things."

The students were divided into groups and asked to work on one of four problems related to binge drinking. They had an hour to evaluate the problem, come up with solutions and rate each one based on how well it met the specifications of the problem, including whether a solution would work well for different age groups and genders.

(Also picked up by CBS News, Huffington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Concord Monitor, Denver Post, Foster's Daily Democrat, WJAC and others)

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