The University of Illinois Engineering Open House has been a staple in the Champaign-Urbana community for almost one hundred years, since it was started in 1920. Each year the EOH inspires thousands of students and science lovers of all ages with breathtaking displays of science and technology. If you are planning to have your mind blown at the EOH this weekend, March 9th and 10th, don’t go in blind. Here are a few must see events for this years EOH.
Photo by Sam Logan
Throughout the Open House
9am-4pm Friday and Saturday
My personal favorite aspect of every open house is just walking across the campus and running into dozens of booths illustrating some fascinating aspect of science or engineering. Ranging from Electrical Engineering to Materials Science to Chemistry, each booth provides an insight into a different area of science. Many displays are hands on which lets younger kids engage with the science like they never have before. This year’s selection of cool exhibits includes a virtual jazz orchestra in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, video games developed by U of I students in the Siebel Center for Computer Science, and a 3D Alma Mater printed at the nanoscale in the Materials Research Lab.
Crane Bay, Newmark Civil Engineering Building
Every 15-20 min, 9am-4pm Friday and Saturday
A staple of the Engineering Open House experience, the Concrete Crusher doesn’t do anything particularly fancy. In fact the name describes it perfectly, a very large column of concrete is crushed. What makes this event a must see is the building anticipation as the stress on the concrete gradually increases. It’s like watching a scary movie, waiting for the jump scare, but in this case the jump scare is a giant column of concrete being demolished by thousands of pounds of force. It’s a spectacle unlike any other at the EOH.
Photo by Sam Logan
Tesla Coil Concert
As the sun goes down, the Tesla Coils come up and treat the Engineering Open House crowd to a music and light show. Large bolts of electricity shoot from the coils and create an eerie buzz reminiscent of an old-timey sci-fi movie. These coils would be cool on their own, but they can also hold a tune! Be ready to spend an hour or so jamming to this weird alien orchestra as sparks fly across the Bardeen Quad.
Physics Van Show
Loomis Lab, Room 141
Every 15-20 min, 9am-4pm, Friday and Saturday
Elementary and Middle School
This show is a collection of just about every cool physics demo you might have seen in a physics class or youtube clip. Bowling balls will swing, electricity will crackle, and some kids might have the chance to experience it hands on! The Physics Van team regularly goes on the road to perform for kids across the state, so they know how to have fun with the kids and make science cool. It’s a great way to introduce science to kids!
Keynote Speaker: Parisa Tabriz
Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, Room 1002
Highschool and older
This year’s keynote speaker is an Illinois Alum and Director of Engineering at Google, Parisa Tabriz. Tabriz is a hacker working to keep google and the internet at large safe for those who use it. As a woman in a male dominated discipline, Tabriz brings a unique mindset to her job. She has a lot of personality and charisma along with her expertise, as can be seen in her interviews and personal website. If you want to be educated, entertained, and inspired, Parisa Tabriz’s talk about the intersection of humanity and engineering is where you should be.
8am-4pm, Friday 8am-3pm, Saturday
High school and older
The burgeoning community of Champaign Urbana Startup Companies is on display this EOH with the Startup Showcase. Some of these startups are run by either current or former U of I College of Engineering students, and they show how what they learned in school can be immediately applied to real world problems. Eleven Startups are involved including Dibbs a company trying to eliminate food waste, and Modos Technology looking to develop new technologies for the classroom.
This list only scratches the surface for what you can experience at the Engineering Open House. If you would like to know more, check out the EOH website, or check out an online version of their visitor’s guide.
Cover photo by Sam Logan.