Grainger holds Engineering Open House after two-year hiatus


Photo courtesy of Anushka Desai

The Gruebele Group showcases the laser-assisted scanning tunneling microscopy at the Engineering Open House. The College of Engineering will be bringing back the open house on April 8 and 9.

By Rohit Jammu, Staff Writer

The Grainger College of Engineering ranks number ten in the top ten best schools for engineering, according to a 2021 report by US News. Within Grainger, computer engineering, aerospace engineering and civil engineering also rank highly.

With so much high-ranking innovation at the University, the College of Engineering displays the talents of engineering students every year at the Engineering Open House.

Beginning slightly over a century ago, the Engineering Open House is the University’s demonstration of what it means to be a Grainger Engineer. Although March 2019 marked the anniversary of the 99th Engineering Open House, the pandemic pushed back the celebrations for the 100-year anniversary.

Two years later, University engineers will finally gather to celebrate 100 years of Grainger engineering on April 8 and 9.

“It’s been a testament to how good we are able to navigate things this year,” Kavya Sudhir, junior in Engineering and one of the co-directors for this year’s Engineering Open House, said. 

This year’s Engineering Open House plans to hold over 130 different exhibits with 50 of those being from RSOs. There will also be a dozen demos and special events such as the Tesla Coil concert, cars racing around the Grainger loading dock and corporate sponsors who will bring tractors and engines.

One demo, the Illinois Fire Service Institute Dorm Demo, will educate event-goers about fire safety. In the demo, mock dorm rooms will be set on fire.

Engineering Open House 100 will also feature the BarisTau Bot serving coffee in the Campus Instructional Facility, a 3,000,000 pound concrete crusher in the basement of Talbot and plenty of robotic arms. There will also be Robobrawl: a Battlebot competition.

Finally, the weekend-long event will have a keynote speech presented by Aadeel Akhtar, the CEO of Psyonic — a startup focused on making affordable prosthetics.

The Engineering Open House has a specific theme each year. For example, the 99th Engineering Open House’s theme was ‘Dare to Defy’ and the 61st was ‘Building on Dreams.’

Victoria Kindratenko, junior in Engineering and a co-director of the open house, explained that the theme they chose was ‘the Power of Us.’

Kindratenko said the theme was chosen because the codirectors felt it tied in with the University’s remarkable COVID-19 response as well as the College of Engineering’s collaborative innovation during the pandemic.

Sudhir commented on the difficulties the event coordinators had with arranging the open house. She mentioned that it was hard transitioning to new leadership.

“We didn’t really have the best transition because we haven’t had a committee that has planned the Engineering Open House in the past,” Sudhir said. “But, what’s also incredible about this year is that we’re doing Engineering Open House 100 from scratch — almost as if we’re doing it from the 1920s.”

Despite the large size of the event and the many tasks at hand, Kindratenko and Sudhir both emphasized how much a group effort organizing the event has been.

“Getting past these last two years when we and Engineering Open House didn’t have much going on was a bit of struggle,” Sudhir said. “Students had to do their part in making sure they got tested, administrators had to be transparent with us, innovators really took initiative and created our entire saliva testing protocol that we have.”

Sudhir said she discovered her passion for bioengineering in high school when she visited her first Engineering Open House. When she finally came to the University, Sudhir became a freshmen representative for the Engineering Open House.

“Coming to Engineering Open House made bioengineering a tangible, reachable thing,” Sudhir said. “I was able to see people controlling artificial limbs wirelessly, which was blowing my mind.”

 Coming to Engineering Open House made bioengineering a tangible, reachable thing. I was able to see people controlling artificial limbs wirelessly, which was blowing my mind.”

— Kavya Sudhir

Anushka Desai, junior in Engineering and the Marketing Director for the Engineering Open House, participated as an exhibitor her freshman year. Come her sophomore year, Desai became a middle school design director.

 “We started out trying making a mind-controlling car,” Desai said. “That was our project, but we didn’t get too far in because of COVID-19.”

Although Desai didn’t end up showcasing her project that year, she progressed to join the Engineering Open House committee. Desai said she was determined to inspire kids.

Even after all the excitement the Engineering Open House brings, Kindratenko stressed the other opportunities the event could inspire.

“Sponsors are key to helping us pull off such a large and exciting event,” Kindratenko said. “I believe that involving engineering companies with Engineering Open House not only exposes students to future career paths but also ensures everyone has promising learning opportunities.”

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