Engineering EXPO ’97 Offers Something For All Ages

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Young students working together with Tinkertoys

Teamwork was the object of this exercise. Each student in this group was allowed to put one hand in the box in an effort to construct the Tinker-Toy object on top. (large image)

Elementary students Sarah Davis and Valerie Rung are really interested in science. So much in fact, that on Friday, April 18, they were already planning to someday work for the College of Engineering.

Fueling the girls’ enthusiasm was the first day of 23rd biennial Engineering EXPO, a student-run event that showcases recent developments in engineering and technology, and demonstrates how those developments can be applied to everyday life. The girls were in attendance with a group of fourth- and fifth-graders from Northside Elementary School in Middleton as well as more than 100 other student groups from around the state.

“I really liked the desks,” said Rung, referring to a display of ergonomically designed furniture. “I liked them too,” Davis chimed in, adding that she was also fascinated by the Rube Goldberg invention contest. The girls then rattled off a list of all their favorite EXPO displays.

Checking out the Baja car

EXPO visitors had plenty of opportunities to check out the latest automobile technology. This group gets an up-close look at the Baja Car, designed by UW-Madison engineering students. (large image)

Their teacher, Peggy Marxen, said EXPO is a great way of making science fun for young people. “It’s stimulating. The kids really love the hands-on activities. It gets their creativity flowing.”

In all, more than 90 individuals, groups and companies sponsored exhibits at this year’s EXPO, “Dreams by Design,” which ran from April 18-20.

Some of the most popular attractions were the student competitions, including contests for bridge building, model rocket launching and egg tossing. Another “high-traffic” destination was the Robot Triathlon, held in the Field House and featuring about 40 remote controlled robots that competed in soccer games and an intense obstacle course, with more than $15,000 dollars in prize money at stake.

Lego model of engineering campus

EXPO visitors view a scale-model of the engineering campus made entirely out of LEGOS. (large image)

For the younger visitors, a giant LEGO playland in the lobby of the Mechanical Engineering Building was among the most popular destinations. Youngsters refined their construction engineering skills in a roped off area filled with tens of thousands of the snap-together blocks.

Nearby, another LEGO display attracted visitors of all ages. It was a scale-model version of the engineering campus made entirely of Legos. Planning for this mega-project began well in advance of EXPO, said student John Baneck, who helped construct the display and was on hand Friday to answer questions. The builders plan to keep their work intact and display it somewhere on the engineering campus after EXPO.

Student leaders estimate that about 25,000 people attended this year’s event, which has been in the planning for more than 18 months.

The executive planning committee included Aaron Berken, Andrew Bouthilet, Doug Herman, Chuck Hwang (co-chair), Andrew Kroll, Rachel Karisny, Scott McKenzie, Jim Myers, Shawn Rediske, Vipul Soni, Becky Tschider, Dave Walters and Jonas Zahn (co-chair).