February 23, 2004

23rd annual Engineering Day is Thursday, Feb. 26

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Want to try your hand at building a bridge from plastic straws? How high can you build a structure using three decks of playing cards?

More than 400 students from up to 20 high schools around Southern Illinois are participating in the annual Engineering Mind Games and Expo Thursday, Feb. 26, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The 23rd annual event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Engineering Building. The event tests creative problem-solving skills, and give students the chance to explore the many contributions engineers make to society.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover any of the events throughout the day.

Sponsored by the SIUC College of Engineering and its affiliated student professional chapters and organizations, the day features eight individual hands-on events. In addition, students also may choose five of the events to participate in a pentathlon competition.

There are new demonstrations and events this year, including "How Tough is Kid Rock?" which allows students to guess how much pressure it takes to break different types of rocks. In another new game, "Balloon-powered Hovercraft," students use materials including foam, masking tape, sandpaper and flexible straws to build a hovercraft.

Other games include "Bridge Over No Man's Gorge," "Royal House Flush" and "Paper Aircraft Design." In "Precision Pacing," contestants try to correctly guess the distance from one point to another using an electronic measuring device. In the "Saluki Egg Drop," contestants package an egg to protect it from breaking after a one-story fall with materials they piece together that day. In the "Over Easy Egg Drop," the goal is keeping the egg intact after a four-story fall with devices made at home.

Among the goals of Engineering Day is introducing students to basic engineering principles and how they apply to every day life, said Associate Dean Hasan Sevim.

"With these games, students are forced to think how to design, how to build, how to make it work and how to make it function. That is exactly what engineers do," said Sevim. "There is a problem out there; they think of different types of solutions, then they decide on a certain solution and try to design a tool, device or system to solve that problem. And then they build and they test. That is exactly the process that these students will go through," he said.

First- and second-place winners in each event will receive engineering T-shirts, and the overall winner receives an SIUC gear prize pack valued at $50.

Between 30 and 40 SIUC engineering students from various programs and organizations will teach, demonstrate projects and answer engineering-related questions posed by younger students.

"The rapport is excellent," said Sevim, adding that one goal is attracting high school students to the University's engineering programs. "High school students have contact with our students and they ask questions about their studies, and the kinds of engineering they study. It's great for both sides, actually."

In addition, engineering students get to hone their leadership skills by directing groups of 10 to 15 high school students through the various experiments.

Some high school students will also participate in circuit building labs in the electrical and computer engineering departments. They will be able to build circuits for telephone ringers or light switches.

Engineering Day is part of Engineering Week, an annual celebration of engineers and engineering achievement that started in 1951.

As part of the engineering expo, several University student organizations including the formula racing, hovercraft, battlebot and moon buggy teams will be present. Representatives from a number of area industries, along with college researchers, will demonstrate the use of high-tech engineering in real-world applications.

Serving others and being involved in outreach programs are among the goals of Southern@150, the long-range blueprint for the growth of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information, contact Hasan Sevim at the College of Engineering at 618/453-4321.