Expo draws crowds over weekend
Monday, February 27, 2006
A giant game of electronic tic-tac-toe lit one wall of Eaton Hall’s computer commons, but the young visitors found their way to a smaller, darker lab instead.
Inside that room they found some youthful familiarity among the other engineering exhibits – the Ultimate Gaming Machine, designed over winter break by William Blake, Olathe graduate student.
“It’s hard to get them to leave,” he said. “A few of them come back twice.”
The Ultimate Gaming Machine featured a 27-inch television screen and real arcade replacement parts. Users could play more than 15,000 games, including original arcade games such as pinball and favorites from Nintendo, Sega and Nintendo 64. While Blake’s knowledge of electrical engineering made his creation possible, his motivation was the challenge and pride that came with such a design.
Blake’s machine was one of several exhibits engineering students presented at the annual Engineering Expo Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25 at Eaton and Learned Halls. This year’s event, named “Extreme Engineering,” featured exhibits engineering students and student professional organizations and drew more than 700 area elementary, middle and high school students.
Stuart Bell, dean of engineering, said the hands-on activities allowed younger students to learn what the field is about.
“It’s a chance where they can touch and feel projects in engineering,” he said.
Expo presents an opportunity for those students to relate to current engineering students in and out of the classroom, Bell said.
Although the event serves as a recruiting tool for the School of Engineering, Expo is student-designed and student-run.
“Students do a lot more than in the classroom,” Bell said.
The various engineering departments displayed past design projects and demonstrated flight and space shuttle simulators and a wind tunnel. Two radios ran on renewable energy sources, one inside and one outside on the Learned Hall lawn. One group gave away free T-shirts by launching them with a trebuchet, a “fancy catapult,” said Curtis Havercamp, Expo co-chair and Hoyt sophomore.
Havercamp said a group of mechanical engineering students purchased enough pancake mix to make 960 pancakes during their pancake feed. Next year, the KU chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers hopes to introduce an automatic pancake maker, said Travis Sippel, Sutton, Neb., senior. Down the hall, chemical engineering students made home-brewed root beer.
In the courtyard area between Learned and Eaton halls, the Society of Automotive Engineers displayed their competitive race cars from previous years. Logan Johnson, SAE president and Lawrence senior, said the younger students loved getting into the race cars, but that they would back off and stare in awe when the engines revved up.
Expo allows engineering students to show off, Johnson said, and see other people get excited about a project they personally worked on.
— Edited by Hayley Travis