Engineering the future

In order to celebrate ingenuity and the birth of revolutionary ideas in the field of engineering, USF will host the 33rd annual Engineering EXPO on campus this weekend.

The expo is an official USF event celebrating National Engineers’ Week and will be filled with various technological displays on campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“The main goal is to celebrate engineering and engineers,” Volunteer Director Monica Escobar said.

According to Anthony Hildoer, president of general coordination, the event will have a science-fair-type atmosphere and will contain various displays dealing with topics related to all engineering fields.

But unlike a typical science fair, the Engineering EXPO will feature a laser light show on Friday every hour from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Engineering Teaching Auditorium, ENA 105.

“The laser light show will have fog and music and will be more like a concert,” Hildoer said.

Another entertainment event at the expo will be the chemical magic show, Escobar said.

“The purpose is to show that chemistry can be entertaining and amusing. (The show will) use liquid nitrogen to freeze objects,” Escobar said.

The Center for Robots Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR) will also be present at the expo. Interested parties can expect a tutorial in robotics at the engineering courtyard from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

According to its Web site, CRASAR is a nonprofit organization with the mission of researching new technologies for aid and support during emergency responses by using rescue robots. One way it does this is with small, model-like helicopters that have cameras attached to them for photographing accidents or disaster areas.

“A lot of times they (use them) when there is a large (vehicle) accident and the roads are blocked off. They are able to get these small helicopters in to take pictures,” USF Media Relations spokeswoman Melanie Aydin said.

As reported previously, CRASAR’s robots were used to aid in the search-and-rescue operations after the devastation of Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Another event at the expo will be the Electrathon electric car race from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and noon to 1:45 p.m. The race was organized by the USF student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and will take place at the Engineering Field.

Students had to design and build their own electric cars. According to ASME team members, seniors Dan Bennett and Derek Lura, the winner will be determined by the speed, endurance and number of laps the car can stand before its battery burns out.

“This was our first time building this type of car, and it was quite a bit more work then we originally planned. But the way the car turned out, I think that we should do well,” Lura said.

The ASME team’s car is 9 feet long and stands 3 feet from the ground. It took the team eight weeks to build.

Senior Mageed Guiguis will be maneuvering the car during the race.

“(The Electrathon race) gives engineering students hands-on experience and something to be proud of,” Bennett said.

Engineering plays a vital role in society, from civil engineering and robotics to biomedical engineering, which deals with creating and improving procedures for treating cancers and other illness.

“We are trying to educate the community to show people that engineers play a big part in almost everything,” Hildoer said. “We build the roads, the building and make the cell phones. Everything in modern life requires engineering.”

The expo is for all students, and admission is free.

“The event is for everyone, ” Hildoer said. “Anyone who likes to watch any type of show on the History or Discovery channel will enjoy the event.”