Hundreds of elementary and secondary school students from around the state and region are expected at the University of Kansas School of Engineering for Engineering Expo. The event will be held Feb. 25 and 26.
The free annual event and open house challenges students to design and construct projects for use in one of 11 engineering competitions.
“The egg drop competition and pasta bridge competition are two of the traditional favorites,” said Engineering Expo co-chair Megan Ketchum, a junior in chemical engineering from Ottawa. “Students of any age can have fun with those. Anybody can design a way to try to keep an egg safe during a one-story drop, or see how much weight a bridge of pasta will support. Plus, breaking a pasta bridge is really fun.”
In addition to the competitions for K-12 students, the public is welcome to view student organization displays and demonstrations, and several professors’ labs will be open for tours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 25. Another highlight of the Expo event on Feb. 25 is a presentation from Engineering Student Council officers at 9:30 a.m. at the Lied Center on KU’s west campus.
Expo will continue from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 26, with tours and engineering displays open to the public. Topeka radio station KDVV 100.3 FM plans to broadcast live from Expo from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Two new competitions will make their debut at the 2011 Expo. Students in aerospace engineering are sponsoring a competition to design the most efficient wind turbine. And KU’s chemistry department and Chemistry Club will take part in their first Engineering Expo in several years by hosting a competition that challenges high school students to design a biodiesel fuel with the highest energy content.
Also new to Expo this year is Engineering Week, or E-Week. Organizers are planning a weeklong series of competitions for KU students on campus to coincide with National Engineers Week. It will include a scavenger hunt, paper airplane challenge and window painting.
In addition to creating, developing and innovating new devices at this year’s Expo, visitors will have the chance to see the rich history of the event. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the School of Engineering’s first Expo in 1911. To commemorate the centennial, historical photos, newspaper clippings and other items will be displayed in the Eaton Hall atrium.
“We’re trying to incorporate some of the older Expo themes, with new ideas as well,” said Ketchum. “We hope to bridge history and the future. One of the most interesting things people can see is a photo of a model of Lawrence that the civil engineering department constructed some time in the 1950s. It was about the size of a room,” Ketchum said.
Ketchum said the event has evolved over the years. In its early days, Expo was a parade through campus, with different engineering disciplines constructing floats with their latest innovations and competing for best display.