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capsule to be opened at Engineering Open House
E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073; email@example.com
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Wild and
wacky Rube Goldberg machines, robots racing through a maze, the unearthing
of a 26-year-old time capsule, and more than 150 fun-filled exhibits
are among the attractions awaiting visitors to the 81st annual Engineering
Open House at the University of Illinois.
The event, organized by
students in the Engineering Council at the UI, will be from 9 a.m. to
4 p.m. March 2 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 3. The UI Engineering
Open House is one of the largest technological showcases of its kind
in the nation, attracting more than 30,000 visitors each year.
This year's theme -- 2001:
The Odyssey is Now -- plays upon the theme of the 1975 Engineering Open
House -- 2001: An Engineering Odyssey.
Visitor guides containing
a campus map and descriptions of the activities and exhibits will be
available at the EOH Headquarters Booth in the Kenney Gymnasium Annex,
1402 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. All events are free and open to the
"During the two-day event,
the engineering campus will be transformed into a stage for students
from all engineering disciplines to showcase their talent," said Brian
Pokrzywa, a UI engineering student and this year's open house director.
"Through innovative projects, design competitions and demonstrations,
visitors can learn about science and engineering."
One of the highlights this
year harks back to the 1975 Engineering Open House, when a time capsule
containing items from each of the engineering departments was buried
just to the west of Engineering Hall.
"The time has come to unearth
this piece of history," said Anjali Rangaswamy, a mechanical engineering
major. "When we open the capsule, we will find many symbols of the newest
technology available at that time. It will be our chance to turn back
the hands of time and see where the world of engineering was headed,
and compare that to today."
The capsule will be exhumed
and its contents displayed on March 3 at 1 p.m. A new time capsule --
to be opened in 2051 -- also will be buried. The event will take place
adjacent to "Area 51" -- the Engineering Open House food and entertainment
tent -- at the south end of the Engineering Quad.
Another highlight of this
yearÕs celebration will be the 14th annual W.J. "Jerry" Sanders Creative
Design Competition, sponsored by Advanced Micro Devices Inc., and named
for the company's founder, a UI alumnus.
This year's competition will
include two separate events, in which student-built robots will compete
for more than $5,000 in prizes. On March 2, in a race against time,
the robots must navigate a maze, locate and unscrew four strategically
placed light bulbs, and deposit them in nearby boxes.
"There will be no interaction
between the robots, and no direct line of sight with their human operators,"
said Adam Lubchansky, a mechanical engineering major and this year's
contest director. "So the robots must operate autonomously or have a
On March 3, the maze will
be taken down and the robots will square off in multiple rounds of the
ever popular "robot wars" demolition derby.
"Nothing brings out the creative
juices like the opportunity to destroy something," Lubchansky said.
More than two dozen teams
from the UI, Ohio State University and Washington University in St.
Louis will compete in the contest, which will be held both days in the
Kenney Gymnasium Annex.
In the high school design
competition, students will again pay homage to Goldberg, a satirical
cartoonist best known for his designs of ridiculously complicated gadgets
that performed the simplest tasks in whimsical roundabout ways. This
year's task is to build a machine that can select, clean and peel an
apple in the weirdest way possible.
"The competition challenges
students to apply basic engineering principles -- along with odd pieces
of equipment -- in imaginative ways to accomplish a simple task through
an elaborate process," said computer engineering major Ryan Chmiel,
chair of the high school design contest. "This is one of the few times
in life when wackier is better."
Each machine must use at
least 20 steps to accomplish the task, Chmiel said. Approximately 15
teams from central and southern Illinois high schools will compete in
the contest, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 2 in the
Kenney Gymnasium Annex. The top three teams will compete against teams
from the Chicago area in the Illinois Rube Goldberg Championship, to
be held in the spring.
In the Illini Union, 1401
W. Green St., Urbana, the Grade School Village will feature hands-on
exhibits designed to spark an interest in science and engineering in
younger students. On March 2, students in seventh and eighth grades
will race cars constructed from recycled food containers, and a special
on-site design challenge will test the creativity of students of all
ages. Both events will be held in the Illini Union.
Spread throughout the engineering
campus, more than 150 exhibits -- featuring student research and projects
sponsored by engineering societies -- will reflect the heart and soul
of Engineering Open House.
"The campus will resemble
Disneyland, with exhibits of every imaginable kind," said civil engineering
major Tim Stall, this yearÕs exhibits director. "We have the brunt of
the brain power at one of the top engineering universities in the nation
being put to work on this, so the exhibits and displays really should
Many of the exhibits will
be interactive, Stall said, and some will even hand out souvenirs and
prizes. All are designed to inform and entertain the public. For example,
the Physics Society will launch projectiles using a linear accelerator,
fire a liquid nitrogen cannon, fly a hot-air balloon, and demonstrate
the principles behind electricity and magnetism in the Loomis Lab, 1110
W. Green St., Urbana.
The Society for Experimental
Mechanics will crush cars with a 3-million-pound press at the Talbot
Lab, 104 S. Wright St., Urbana; and the American Society of Mechanical
Engineers will demonstrate how ordinary household flour can detonate
like rocket fuel in a grain-bin explosion in the Mechanical Engineering
Building, 1206 W. Green St., Urbana.
The Association for Computing
Machinery will demonstrate the latest in computer technology -- including
action games, graphics techniques and component architectures -- in
the Digital Computer Lab, 1304 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. A robot
that takes orders and retrieves beverages from a restored, 30-year-old
soda machine also will be on display, along with the Virtual Anatomy
Textbook -- an interactive environment for students to learn about physiology.
At the Roger Adams Lab,
600 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers
will show how polymers are produced from basic chemicals, how modern
fuel cells can make cars more efficient and less polluting, and how
vanilla is extracted from vanilla beans.
In the Metallurgy and Mining
Building, 1304 W. Green St., Urbana, the Undergraduate Materials Organization
will demonstrate how bone replacements can be made with ceramics, how
contaminants can be trapped by activated carbon fibers, and how heat
can cause memory metal to return to its original shape after being bent
The Society of Automotive
Engineers will exhibit several of the teamÕs small Formula One style
race cars in the Newmark Civil Engineering Building, 205 N. Mathews
Ave., Urbana; and several of the teamÕs Mini-Baja, off-road vehicles
in the Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building, 1304 W. Pennsylvania
Special laboratory tours
of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology also will
be offered during the two-day event.
More information can be
found at http://eoh.cen.uiuc.edu/eoh.cfm.