March 10, 2007

Engineering Open house

Once again we have had a great time at the University of Illinois's Engineering Open House. If you want your children to be engineers, take them to such an event. When I was growing up, I thought engineers were good, kind men. But engineering didn't seem the kind of profession I wanted to enter. When we go to the UofI's engineering events, the college students make all their practical application experiments seem fun and interesting. These students are enthusiastic about showing everyone, whether young or old, what they're doing. What's pleasing is the cheerfulness seems to run through the wide diversity of students, men and women.

The photo is of concrete balls that float. There's a floating concrete boat contest every year that engineering students enter. They have to figure out how to make concrete lightweight, using special light material, and then make a canoe that is fast enough to win the race. The American Society of Civil Engineers is holding the 20th annual National Concrete Canoe Competition.

Clearly engineers like to compete. We cheered on the computerized robot competition. We saw a small remote-controlled plane for another competition.

We saw computer games using the new Wii controller, which was harder to use than we thought. We built a small rocket and shot it off. We made lipgloss, cement coaster, a kind of silly putty, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets. We learned about differences in brain sizes, shape and uses from the Beckman Institute's Center for Healthy Minds. (what a great name for a place to work). There were lots of ideas for science projects. Of course, I loved the computer geeky stuff and seeing all the Macs in use.

We have all had a weird flu virus that has mostly made us lethargic and complaining. So we were thrilled to get out to the open house in warmer weather!

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