University of South Carolina

Engineers Week activities set for Feb. 21-25

Think you can walk on water?

You just might be able to at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing.

During National Engineers Week, Feb. 21-25, the college will open its doors and invite the public to learn about the diversity of the engineering and computing fields. That includes an open house with hands-on activities such as controlling a robot in a game of tag, launching a soda bottle rocket, putting on a laser light show or taking a ride on a Segway powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Plus you’ll have the chance to try to walk across a pool of water (mixed with a bit of cornstarch).

“Engineers Week is a great opportunity for us to tell prospective students that engineering and computing are wonderful careers that will keep you excited for your entire working life, allow you to travel and meet many different people from all over the world, and allow you to have the greatest impact on the quality of people’s lives,” said Dr. Tony Ambler, Dean of USC’s College of Engineering and Computing.

The week helps spread the word about how engineers and computer scientists can change the world.

“I don’t think that the majority of people do know what engineers actually do,” Ambler said. “Engineers and computer scientists create and design cool gadgets, they create and build space rockets, aircraft, telephones, power creation and distribution, waste processing, water conservation/cleaning. In fact any facet of our day-to-day lives has been created and provided by engineers,”.

“Even our access to the arts has been facilitated by engineers and computer scientists – book production, printing, photography, the Internet. But engineers and computer scientists also develop the technologies so that they can be mass produced and made available at incredibly low cost.”

When prospective students visit USC, Ambler said, they will be able to see quickly how the College of Engineering and Computing can help them attain their goals.

“A degree in engineering needs to be taught by faculty who are working at the frontiers of engineering development and research – if they aren't doing this, the undergraduate degrees would not be up-to-date, and you would not be as employable on graduation,” he said. “The National Research Council recently published a report analyzing research productivity and program quality of engineering programs across the U.S. It showed that USC's College of Engineering and Computing ranks highly nationally (for example, electrical, 6th; chemical, 29th; mechanical, 31st), but also the highest for any institution in South Carolina.”

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Engineers Week (, a coalition of more than 100 professional societies, corporations and government agencies. It is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of engineering and technology careers among young students and promoting pre-college literacy in math and science.

The events at USC include a daily “lunch and learn” series open to the public, seminars, an open house for students from kindergarten through 12th grade and a visit by three helicopters. The URS Corp. is the week’s special corporate sponsor.

Here are a few of the special events. A full schedule is available at

Feb. 23-24: Helicopters to land on the field next to the Blatt Physical Education Center on Wheat Street, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The South Carolina National Guard is expected to land an Apache-AH 64, a Black Hawk-UH60 and/or a Lakota-LUH72 helicopter on campus. Helicopters will be available for public inspection.

Feb. 24: Open House for K-12 students, 4-8 p.m., Swearingen Engineering Center. The open house will feature several “hands-on” exhibits provided by each of the college’s departments and programs, including the following:

Biomedical Engineering

EKG, lungs volume and human arm model, Room A139B, 300 Main St., across the street from Swearingen Engineering Center.

Human umbilical vein endothelial cells and human monocytes cells available to be seen under the microscope. Room 1B47, Swearingen.

Chemical Engineering

Cornstarch pool. Can you walk on water? Come find out.

Segway rides. Come ride a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Segway.

Fuel cell demonstration. See how the College of Engineering and Computing lights up the board at Carolina’s baseball stadium.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Structural response to simulated earthquakes. Dr. Juan Caicedo’s research group will help you understand earthquakes with their earthquake simulator.

Computer Science and Engineering

3D PacMan. Participants will try to earn the highest score in the game developed by one of the department’s game design and programming graduate students. A prize will be awarded to the winner.

Robot tag. Participants will have an opportunity to control a robot in a game of tag.

Electrical Engineering

Laser light show. Using speakers as mirror actuators, the user will control the angle of the mirrors with a knob allowing light to bounce and create a pattern.

Shadow activated relay. Learn about motion sensors at this exhibit, which will activate a motor or light when light is blocked.

Xylophone built by three undergraduate students. A programmable logic controller controls outputs to solenoids that manipulate hammers to play keys on a small glockenspiel. A control panel allows for the selection of songs, as well as adjustment of output pulse width or tempo.

Mechanical Engineering

Small demo PEM fuel cell kit. See how hydrogen produced with a solar cell runs the PEM fuel cell.

Soda-bottle rockets competition. Student participants will compete to see who can launch their soda bottle rocket the highest.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 02/21/11 @ 11:30 AM | Updated: 02/21/11 @ 11:35 AM | Permalink

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