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Open house will focus on fun, creative, cool stuff engineers do

Kids play with robot
March 13, 2012

It’s about love, passion and inspiration.

It’s about ingenuity, creativity and fun.

So, of course, it’s all about engineering.

The first-ever Engineering Open House presented by students in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, on March 30 and 31, is designed to showcase “what we love about what we’re doing,” says Jonathan Topliff.

“It’s a chance for us to show our passion for the kinds of things you can do in engineering,” says Jane Lacson.

Topliff, a mechanical engineering major with a minor in materials science, and Lacson, a senior studying biomedical engineering, are among leaders of the student committee organizing the two days of exhibits, experiments and demonstrations to be featured at the Open House.

ASU engineering students are building rockets and satellites, designing technologies to store and generate energy, and working on better cyberspace security strategies.

They’re into robotics, solar power, and the high-performance materials being used to make state-of-the-art aircraft, medical devices and electronics.

They’re designing and building prototypes for new kinds of cars and airplanes, and developing systems to better manage natural resources.

Examples of those pursuits and the endeavors of dozens of engineering student organizations and project teams will be on display at the Open House. Visitors will also be able to participate in a variety of hands-on activities (including making slime!).
Water-bottle rocket launches will be among the attractions, as well as launches of objects from a trebuchet (sort of a cross between a catapult and giant slingshot), while the festive atmosphere will be enhanced by live music, street performers and prize raffles.

Activities on March 30 are geared to a field day for elementary and middle school student groups. The Open House’s second day is will focus on entertaining and educating families and high school students.

“We want to show what cool stuff engineers do, that they make rockets and cars and things that spit fire,” Topliff says.

ASU engineering students hope to “ignite a spark in kids that makes them realize that engineering is super-fun,” Lacson says. “It’s also really fulfilling, because it’s about solving problems by being creative and imaginative.”

Paul Johnson, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, emphasizes that the event “isn’t something the dean dreamed up for students to do,” but is driven by ASU students’ desire to deliver a message about what’s inspiring them to pursue careers in engineering.

“They want people, especially younger students, to be aware of how the work of engineers is all around us in the world and how it’s relevant to the quality of our lives and our future,” Johnson says.

For the youngsters visiting the Open House, he says, “I think our students will help make the university a little less mysterious to them. They’ll get a glimpse of our culture – one in which students work hard but they also experience a lot excitement about what they’re learning and achieving.”

The event is being sponsored by Raytheon. The company is one of the nation's largest producers of defense and homeland security technology and commercial electronics.

For more details see the Engineering Open House website, and a description of attractions.