If you build it... Engineers want people to come

It’s National Engineering Week, and to cap off their week-long celebration, Engineering School is getting out all their toys and inviting the community– especially middle and high school kids– to come over and play Saturday, February 22.
Who knew, for example, that Jell-O could be the stuff of science? Chemical engineers will be using that brightly colored tasty treat to demonstrate how protein diffusion in gels is used by the pharmaceutical industry to make medicine.
Materials science folks will be bouncing rubber balls and heating them to demonstrate how polymers behave differently at different temperatures. And mechanical and aerospace engineers will be showing off a solar-powered car, their Legends racer, as well as a solar-powered airship.
These are just a few of the experiments, demonstrations, and hands-on activities designed to show how much fun engineering can be and maybe tempt some prospective students into a career in the field.
“The idea is to inform the public about what engineering is and how it looks at UVA,” says spokesperson Sean Agnew. “We’re especially targeting high school students who have applied to the school this year.”
High schoolers and their parents can meet undergrads, graduate students, and members of the engineering faculty and tour the various departments.
As a special treat, Dr. Kathryn Thornton, UVA professor and former astronaut on the Space Shuttle Columbia, will give a talk entitled “Sights and Sounds of Space Flight” at 1pm in the Mechanical Engineering building. Sports fans won’t want to miss RoboCup Soccer from noon-3pm.
Other engineering entertainment includes virtual reality from the computer scientists, an artificial heart pump from the mechanical engineers, the ERICA Project, that lets you talk to a computer with your eyes, and Wahoo Wizards, who will be demonstrating their amazing feats in the chemistry building.

The University of Virginia Engineering Open House takes place Saturday, February 22, from 9am-3pm. A schedule of events and map can be picked up at the registration desk in Thornton Hall when you arrive. Participants can save time by registering on-line ahead of time at www.seas.virginia.edu/openhouse.

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