February 18, 2002

Engineers Reach Out To Public

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Initiating National Engineers Week 2002, members from 15 Cornell engineering societies set up interactive displays at the Pyramid Mall on Saturday. Participants were promoting an appreciation of engineering and teaching children about engineering concepts. Hundreds of shoppers in Ithaca had the opportunity to see models of research projects and watch demonstrations.. The event took place at malls across the country.

“Engineering Day at the mall is the kick-off event of the week. National Engineers Week aims to promote engineering as a career and to celebrate it as an activity,” said Regina Clewlow grad, president of the Engineer Student Council (ESC).


The ESC is the umbrella organization that coordinates the more than 30 groups within the College of Engineering that participate in the week’s activities, which will range from a Lego Design Competition to a lecture by Prof. James Maas, psychology.

“Engineering Day aims to show kids some of the neater aspects of engineering,” said Ken Deist, ’02, a member of the Cornell Materials Science Research Society.

Deist demonstrated the properties of superconductivity with a magnet that he cooled in liquid nitrogen.

Race Car

The race car built by engineering students in Formula Society of Automotive Engineers attracted the attention of the many children and adults who filled the mall.

“A bunch of the kids want to get in the car and play around with the buttons. We let people know that we’re basically building a car completely

from scratch. It takes a full year of intense work,” said Alex Krol, ’04,a member of Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), which competes annually with more than a hundred other schools in a dynamic events competition.

Children were introduced to concepts such as the density of different materials through the display of the Society of African American Engineers.

Anjoli Avionn, ’04, demonstrated the properties of density by using vegetable oil and food coloring suspended in a bath of water to create marbled patterns on paper.

Justin Parisa, ’02, explained to shoppers the properties of polymer chains inside a piece of nylon cord. The cord snapped when pulled quickly and continued to stretch when pulled very slowly. “Theoretically you could have one very thin strand that is a continuous polymer chain. The cord is actually strongest at the thinnest point,” said Parisa.

The Cornell Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) team gave balloons away to children and attempted to answer many of the shoppers’ questions.

“A lot of the people here seem to be familiar with engines. We have a lot of people come up and ask technical questions about [the hybrid electric vehicle],” said Colin Smith, ’04. The HEV team invited curious people from the community to visit their automotive facilities this week, where engineering students work to transform a stock Ford Explorer into a fuel efficient, environmentally friendly Hybrid Vehicle.

Sharing the importance of engineering with young people since 1951, National Engineers Week was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), composed of professional engineers, engineering students, teachers and leaders in business and government.

Keynote events occurring throughout the nation this week include the Future City competition in Washington, D.C. where more than 30,000 middle school students from 950 schools across the country create computer and 3-D models of ways to improve urban environments. Celebrating the second year of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” the NSPE hopes to mobilize more women into the engineering work force.

National Engineers Week events taking place on campus include a Photo Scavenger Hunt, a Post-prelim Dance Dance Revolution Party, a showing of Office Space and a Lego Competition. The events will end Saturday night with the fourth annual Engineering Diversity Dinner with student performances and multi-cultural cuisine.

Archived article by Dan Webb