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U. of I. Engineering Open House to take place March 10-11

Rick Kubetz, Office of Engineering Communications


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Wild and wacky Rube Goldberg machines, “robot wars,” and more than 160 fun-filled exhibits await visitors to “Beyond Imagination,” the 86th annual Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“We are expecting well over 10,000 visitors, who will experience the myriad of engineering marvels and mysteries in this ever-changing world,” said Doug Johnson, the director of the open house. “This is a chance for the engineers here to show off what they do during their spare time. EOH is a great forum for teaching a broad variety of audiences about how engineering affects their lives.”

The event, organized by students in the Engineering Council at Illinois, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday (March 10) and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday (March 11).

The open house is free and open to the public. Visitor guides containing a campus map and descriptions of the activities and exhibits will be available at the EOH headquarters booth in the Digital Computing Lab, 1304 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana.

A major highlight of this year’s open house will be the 20th Annual W.J. “Jerry” Sanders Creative Design Competition. Students work for six months in teams of up to seven members constructing robots to complete a specified task. The contest – sponsored by Advanced Micro Devices and named for the company’s founder – awards more than $5,000 in prizes and promotes excellence in engineering through multidisciplinary cooperation. Visitors can watch the remote-controlled vehicles battle in the Kenney Gymnasium Annex, 1406 W. Springfield, Ave., Urbana.

In the annual High School Design Contest at the Armory, 505 E. Armory Ave., Champaign, student teams from across the state apply concepts learned in the classroom along with their creativity toward constructing Rube Goldberg machines – named for the complicated contraptions made famous in cartoons by Rueben Lucius Goldberg. This year’s task challenges the designers to shred five pieces paper individually in the most ingenious, roundabout way possible. Each machine must use at least 20 steps to accomplish the task.

Other contests for middle school and elementary school students allow youngsters to explore aspects of engineering as they learn and apply principles to solve problems.

Food and entertainment will be located in “Area 51” at the south end of the Bardeen Engineering Quad. Student-led tours, highlighting some of the most exciting exhibits and lasting about 30 minutes, also will leave from Area 51.

As part of the festivities, the College of Engineering will dedicate its new Engineering Student Projects Laboratory, 1021 W. Western Ave., Urbana, at 2 p.m. on Friday. The 7,000 square foot facility includes a showroom, space for team meetings, computer workstations, plus workspaces for senior projects.