Engineering Open House to show off students' skills

Open House demo

Family Day features robots, rockets, race cars, remote-control aircraft, renewable energy and more

Engineering students at Arizona State University are stepping into the spotlight to showcase their design creativity and technological prowess.

“We love to show off,” says mechanical engineering major Jonathan Topliff.  

“We’re excited about what we’re doing. We go a lot of nights without sleep, working on our projects,” he says. “We’re dreaming of designing things that will change the world. So, if given a chance, we’re going to go on and on telling you about everything we’re doing.”

A big show-off opportunity arrives Saturday, March 2, at the second annual ASU Engineering Open House Family Day. Hundreds of students in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering will present exhibits and demonstrations of their knowledge and skills – including many interactive attractions – designed to both entertain and educate.  

Endeavors in rocketry, remote-control aircraft, video game development, underwater robotics, race car design, steel bridge building and more will be on display at the free event on ASU’s Tempe campus from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Among highlights will be a trebuchet demonstration. The 20-foot-high catapult-like device will be used by Topliff’s team to launch melons skyward, an activity he says has been an effective way to lure youngsters into learning some basic principles of math and mechanics.

The Open House crowd will see many other examples of engineering in action, says chemical engineering major Joe Carpenter.

Demonstrations of projects to develop renewable energy sources, harness solar power or use nanotechnology to make better computers and cell phones, among others, will reflect genuine research efforts, not simply class assignments, Carpenter says.

“I think one of the traits of engineering students is that we are drawn to challenges. We like to take on the tough problems,” he says. “I think you’ll see students going above and beyond to put on a good show.”

The event has drawn more than 70 student teams – along with some faculty members – to prepare exhibits, says Katelyn Keberle, a materials science and engineering major who joined Topliff, Carpenter and several other students in organizing the event.

She says nearly all branches of engineering will be represented – from civil, environmental, electrical and chemical to mechanical, aerospace, materials, computer science, computer systems and biomedical engineering.

In addition, a number of the university’s labs, where students often assist in advanced research led by faculty members, will be open for tours.

“We want to give the public a better idea of all the things engineering makes happen in the world,” Keberle says. “Plus, we want to show the cool stuff we’re doing.”

The cool stuff will include the Vex Robotics State Championship Tournament. Throughout the day, 24 teams of middle school and high school students, and six teams of college students, will compete in different divisions for chances to advance to national and world championship Vex Robotics tournaments.

Last year’s inaugural Engineering Open House Family Day drew almost 1,000 visitors, plus more than 1,300 young students who attended a special field trip day for grades three and higher on the Friday before the Saturday public event.

The success of the 2012 Open House has helped boost interest in field trip day this year. More than 1,600 students in grades three through eight are expected to participate. A jump in the Saturday crowd is also expected.

To learn more about the event, visit the Engineering Open House website.

Registration is encouraged, but not required. The first 500 registered guests who check in with their Eventbrite ticket at the information booth at the Student Recreation Complex fields, located in the southeast corner of campus, will receive a Fulton Engineering water bottle.

Visit the EventBrite site for registration and tickets.

All guests who check in will be entered into prize drawings held at noon and 3 p.m. You do not need to be present to win.

Your Passport to Engineering: At the event information desk, children can also pick up their Engineering Open House Passport. As they visit the exhibits noted as Passport Activities, they will receive a stamp. Showing their completed passport at the information booth on the Student Recreation Complex fields will get them a gift and an entry into a drawing for a cool engineering prize.

Along with the Engineering Open House, the ASU Tempe campus will be the site of two additional free public events on March 2 focusing on the sciences, engineering, technology, the arts and humanities.

Night of the Open Door will be presented by ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with partners including ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the Center for Science and the Imagination, and the Biodesign Institute.

In addition, Emerge will present an entertaining fusion of arts, technology and visionary thinking with performances, exhibits and interactive demonstrations.

The Engineering Open House, Night of the Open Door and Emerge are part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, a series of more the 200 events that make up a state-wide celebration of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

There will be free parking on campus during each of the events on March 2 at the Apache parking structure at College Avenue and Apache Boulevard, the Rural and Tyler Street parking structures, and on the north side of the Gammage Auditorium parking lot.

Find parking locations on the campus map.