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UW-Madison Engineering EXPO, April 14-16, 2005

Expo Fire

EXPO organizers have added a number of new events and competitions, and the popular show by Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri remains on the program. (large image)

Engineering EXPO 2005 logo

When Nicole Cuellar first showed the Engineering EXPO planning committee the logo had designed to promote the event, they wondered why she chose something that looked like a backwards "F". But as this year's event begins to take shape, so the initial logo — meant as a teaser — also has become more defined. Now that odd "F" is an "E" — the first letter in "evolve," the 2005 EXPO theme. "It's not always about what you see," she explains.

It has been 65 years since the first EXPO — and much at the university and in the College of Engineering has changed, says Cuellar, who heads EXPO's public relations efforts. EXPO, she says, provides the perfect opportunity for kids and adults to explore campus and learn something new. "Most people don't realize what goes on here," she says. "We want everyone to join in the evolution of technology."

She says university students at all levels are engaging in cutting-edge research and EXPO will enable them to showcase their accomplishments and advances to their peers and to the public. Biomedical engineering undergraduate students, for example, will display real-life solutions to healthcare problems they've tackled with clients within the university and in industry, she says. As a complement, EXPO organizers are hoping to pair an industry exhibitor, such as GE Healthcare, with each technological area EXPO highlights.

In addition to faculty and student exhibits, this year's EXPO, April 14, 15 and 16 on the engineering campus, features the popular show by Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri, as well new competitions and twists on some perennial favorites. The new Lock Mania competition for students in grades nine through 12 challenges teams to build a lock controller to quickly and safely navigate a ship from one body of water to another. EXPO also will debut Simulation Day on Campus, offering half-hour sessions for high-school students about college life as an engineer.

This year's robotics competition, for students in kindergarten through college, will require competitors to build a remote-controlled robot — then navigate a maze while watching the action on a big screen in another room. And the former Rube Goldberg competition has evolved into a new challenge called Compute This.

True to Rube (who built elaborate, multistep devices to accomplish simple tasks), students in grades nine through 12 will build a calculator, using a predetermined mechanical energy source, to compute a number through a series of steps. "We're really challenging students to think in a new dimension," says Cuellar. "We want them to be really excited about what's going on here."

The campus is open to students April 14 and 15 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and to the public all three dates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. University students are free with student ID; non-UW-Madison students are $3 and adults are $4. For further information, visit