2016 Engineering Expo

IMG_4958From February 25-27, Engineering Student Council held KU Engineering Expo, an annual student-led event since 1911, at the KU School of Engineering. The event attracted community members, college students and K-12 students.

James A, an elementary school student came to the expo with an engineering project, a rattrap car.

I watched a few videos on mouse traps online, and then we physically evolved that to a rat trap and added some of my own stuff, like fleece on the one arm to make sure it didn’t snap or hurt if it did snap.” James said.

James said he did a lot of engineering related activities and he is glad that he came to the expo.

“I am building a paper box,” James said, “so it could flow to see how many rocks it could fit in it. We went to see tesla coil, Pasta Bridge, slingshot and robotic shocker.”

IMG_4890Crystal Pyle, a parent, said she heard about the expo from her son Anthony Pyle’s gifted program teacher and came from Ottawa, Kansas to KU to participate in the expo.

“He seems really excited about wanting to try new things,” Pyle said, “ I think that is very exciting, and it is a good learning experience for him. He is definitely wanting to come back next year.”

Pyle also said that her son was involved in the Pasta Bridge competition to see how well the bridge can support the basket of sand. Other than competitions like Pasta Bridge, there were also exhibits. Dylan Unrein, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, elaborated the scientific side of the Super Mario World.

KU Engineering Expo“Our organization is Pi Tau Sigma, the Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, which I am the president of,” Unrein said, “So the overlying theme of the expo is ‘Engineering around the world’, and we decided that instead of doing a country, why not switch things up and do Super Mario World, and that’s our theme. We are trying to teach kids younger than college-age kids basic engineering concepts, such as torque or project on motion through small fun demonstration of Popsicle catapults.”

Genevive Stell, a middle school student participating in the Super Mario World, told us that she wants to be an animator, and she thinks activities like this will help her understand engineering concepts to help her reach her passion.

“We are trying to make a catapult out of straws,” Genevive said. “My mom is a sculptor, so she sometimes is like, ‘Okay, see, you have to weight times this to make sure that it fits into a certain space”, and I am really interested in this…this kind of thing will help me…I am really excited to see what else they have and what else I can do.”

Genevive said she is also involved in a Lego League team, and she is the only girl in it. While Genevive plays catapults with her Lego League teammates, Unrein said that the expo helps eliminate stereotypes people put on engineering.

KU Engineering Expo“I think it is beneficial because it shows that engineering can beat out some stereotypes where it is not just math whizzes or science whizzes,” Unrein said, “it can be fun for anybody, and that anybody can be an engineer if they just have fun and work hard with it.”

Unrein also said that this is his second time helping with the expo and he thinks the expo is opening up the engineering world to the kids and the community in general.

“I think it is a great experience trying to expose kids to the world of STEM, science, technology, engineering and math, and doing in a fun manner,” Unrein said, “Kids do not have the greatest attention span, so trying to do it in a fun manner is where they’re learning without necessarily knowing that their learning is a good experience.”

Besides student organizations and clubs, some engineering classes also participated in the expo. Dhaval Mysore, one of the GTA Instructors for a mechanical engineering, said the instructors worked with them to design the projects and helped students to make the projects fun so that they are friendly to all age groups.

“They implement the programming skills that they learn as well as some basic stuff like sensor, data acquisition to the projects. At the same time, students will collect the data and know how to post process it and then come up with a conclusion based on whatever their project is.”

Mysore said he is happy to see both students and visitors enjoy themselves by engaging in engineering projects and experiments.

“I also see an enthusiasm in them.” Mysore said. “It is like a real interaction with students as supposed to just a regular assignment they do at home.” and they also know it’s more like real-life hard deadline.”

KU Engineering ExpoEngineering Expo started on Thursday with a speaker talking about engineering world at the Lied Center. On Thursday and Friday, the expo mainly targeted K-12 students and community members to visit different classrooms where student groups put on displays and demonstrations. Students were also able to participate in simple hands-on competitions and earn an award when the awards were presented to the winners at the award ceremony at the end of the days. Then eventually on Saturday, the expo opened up to all community members and KU students.

Dylan Watcher, one of the Expo Chairs on Engineering Student Council as well as a junior studying aerospace engineering said they put a lot of preparation into the three-day event. He said the three Expo Chairs split up their responsibilities. He said they were trying to reach different student groups to lead the expo with competition design and project design, and they are all student-driven.

“Basically we just reached out to all the groups in the School of Engineering and any other groups that would be interested,” Watcher said, “We just see if they want to participate and what kind of competitions they want to run… They want to help see the next generation of engineers and sciences. We want to help that process along.”

Watcher also said they reach out to different school and communities to encourage them to participate in the expo.

“So we have accumulated a list of different schools, different teachers, different parents that have been interested in the past and wanting to possibly participate,” Watcher said, “basically we just reached out too them via email, via phone. We have a group of boy scouts and girl scouts we were also talking to so that’s something we’ve been working on this year is getting that public day filled.”

KU Engineering ExpoWatcher said he personally think they had a great turnout and he said in the future, they would keep on trying to reach more people.

“It was crazy yesterday; it was crazy today, and we love that kind of crazy, because it gets kids excited about engineering,” Watcher said. “I really love expo. I think it’s for a great cause…I’ve talked to one of our advisors from the career center, and she told me that her child and her friends had been talking about it weeks afterwards, so something like that just really makes some reasons to do all of this.”