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House showcases student talent
Jim Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073; email@example.com
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —
Wild and wacky Rube Goldberg machines, robots fighting for possession
of helium balloons, and more than 130 fun-filled exhibits are among
the attractions awaiting visitors to the 83rd annual Engineering
Open House at the University of Illinois.
event, organized by students in the Engineering Council at Illinois,
will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March
15. The Illinois Engineering Open House is one of the largest technological
showcases of its kind in the nation, attracting more than 10,000 visitors
each year. This year’s theme – Create, Innovate, Fascinate
– emphasizes the process behind engineering.
Visitor guides containing a campus map and descriptions of the activities
and exhibits will be available at the EOH headquarters booth in the
Kenney Gymnasium Annex, 1402 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. All events
are free and open to the public.
"The purpose of the two-day event is to raise the public’s
awareness in science and engineering and to catch a glimpse of future
technology," said Nicole Pakiz, an Illinois computer science student
and this year’s open house director. "Engineering Open House
is a great forum for teaching others about how engineering affects their
lives. Students from all engineering disciplines will showcase their
talent through innovative projects, design competitions and demonstrations."
A major highlight will be the 16th annual W.J. "Jerry" Sanders
Creative Design Competition. This college design contest is sponsored
by Advanced Micro Devices and is named for the company’s founder,
an Illinois alumnus. In this year’s competition, student-built
robots will fight for possession of strategically placed helium balloons.
"More than $5,000 in prizes will be up for grabs as remote-controlled
vehicles gather balloons while fending off attacks from their opponents,"
said Jason Mitchell, an electrical engineering major and this year’s
contest director. "In each 10-minute round, teams will receive
points for how many balloons they collect. After the final competition
on Saturday, we also will hold some special demolition rounds."
Approximately 23 teams will compete in the contest, which will be held
both days in the Kenney Gymnasium Annex.
In the high school design competition, students will again pay homage
to Goldberg, a satirical cartoonist best known for his designs of ridiculously
complicated gadgets that performed the simplest tasks in whimsical,
roundabout ways. This year’s task is to build a machine that can
select and crush a soft drink can, and then transfer it to a recycling
bin – all in the weirdest way possible.
"Using parts scavenged from old toys and appliances, students will
design their machines in the style of the game Mousetrap," said
civil and environmental engineering major Katie Thompson, chair of the
high school design contest. "The competition will be a test of
both endurance and sportsmanship, and should be loads of fun to watch."
Each machine must use at least 20 steps to accomplish the task, Thompson
said. Approximately 30 teams from Central and Southern Illinois, and
several teams from outside the state, will compete in the contest, which
will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 14 in the Illini Union, 1401
W. Green St., Urbana. The top three Illinois teams will advance to the
state championship Rube Goldberg contest, to be held on campus in the
Younger visitors, too, will have an opportunity to test their creativity
as they learn about science and engineering. On March 14, students in
seventh and eighth grades will design and build bridges out of spaghetti
in the Kenney Gymnasium Annex.
A special on-site design challenge will be open to visitors of all ages
March 15, also in the gymnasium annex. The task will be to build the
strongest bridge from a single sheet of typing paper.
Spread throughout the engineering campus, more than 130 exhibits –
featuring student research and projects sponsored by engineering societies
– will reflect the theme of Engineering Open House. Prepared primarily
by undergraduates, the exhibits will demonstrate both new concepts and
the underlying engineering principles.
For example, the Physics Society will demonstrate magnetic propulsion,
transmit voices by a laser beam, and fire electromagnetic cannons in
the Loomis Lab, 1110 W. Green St., Urbana. Also in Loomis Lab, the Illini
Space Development Society will discuss the latest developments in space
exploration and show off a moon rock on loan from NASA.
At the Roger Adams Lab, 600 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, the American Institute
of Chemical Engineers will show how to convert discarded cooking oil
into diesel fuel, demonstrate various methods for water purification,
describe the treatment and storage of nuclear waste, and explain the
production of ice cream and cheese spread.
The Association for Computing Machinery will demonstrate a foosball-playing
robot, a computer-controlled milling machine, and a variety of computer
games and simulations in the Digital Computer Lab, 1304 W. Springfield
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics will display
some unmanned aerial vehicles, explain how special tiles keep the space
shuttle from overheating, and demonstrate the principles behind a working
jet engine at the Talbot Lab, 104 S. Wright St., Urbana.
In the Newmark Civil Engineering Building, 205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana,
the American Society of Civil Engineers will demonstrate a concrete
racing canoe, groundwater remediation, and the hazards of earthquakes
– including soil liquefaction.
As in years past, food and entertainment – featuring local bands,
singing groups and dance teams – will be located in "Area
51" at the south end of the Engineering Quad.
Laboratory tours of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
also will be offered during the two-day event.
More information can be found at http://eoh.cen.uiuc.edu.