Engineers show off work to public in annual Open House

Teams check in at the Jerry Sanders Design Competition in Kenny Gym on Thursday evening as event organizers put finishing touches on the competition arena. The competition, which is part of Engineering Open House, will be held on Friday and Saturday. Jeremy Berg

Teams check in at the Jerry Sanders Design Competition in Kenny Gym on Thursday evening as event organizers put finishing touches on the competition arena. The competition, which is part of Engineering Open House, will be held on Friday and Saturday. Jeremy Berg

By Shawn Adderly

Students and faculty in the College of Engineering have an opportunity to showcase ongoing research and freelance design projects at Engineering Open House, an annual two-day event.

This is the 89th Open House and the largest student-organized event at the University.

The event, which runs through Saturday, is free to the public. Visitors have the opportunity to explore some of the University’s premier research labs such as the Coordinated Science Lab and the Beckman Institute.

“We expect about 30,000 people to come,” said M. Kay Kappes, assistant to the Engineering undergraduate program and adviser to Engineering Council.

“We think it is wonderful that our students take the initiative to put on this event on top of their studies.”

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One project being highly promoted by event organizers, dubbed MyCampus, is an iPhone application that provides a detailed map of the University’s campus.

“MyCampus is aimed at helping new students get acclimated to campus,” said Markus Schober, freshman in Engineering and group leader of the eight-person development team of MyCampus.

“The app will show you where you are on campus and provide information about local eateries and transit,” Schober said.

Schober said he got interested in the project after joining the Association for Computer Machinery’s special interest group MacWarriors.

The group has been working on the project for almost four months and had to learn Apple’s Object C programming language to code the project.

Schober said he hopes that the application will ease the transition to college and possibly be used at other universities in the future.

“We are hoping to get the legal permission from the University to use a high-quality colored version of the map that even includes small details like bike paths to fences,” Schober said.

“It has been our intention to provide everyone this free of charge.”

The MyCampus project is one of 181 projects that will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“I am very happy that Engineering Open House gives us a chance to show what we’ve done to a larger audience,” said Benjamin Towal, junior in Engineering.

Towal is the group leader of his project, which he describes as a homemade load-balancing application that allows users to share their computer’s processing power when they do not need it.

Allowing the distribution of complex computational problems among multiple computers will considerably speed up the time it takes to get a solution.

Students outside of Engineering, such as senior in Business Jennifer Mark, are eager to see what type of things will be going on.

“I have friends in Engineering, and I am going to see some of the exhibits,” Mark said. “I just want to learn more about a different area.”

The Open House also wants to encourage kids to pursue careers in math and science.

“We invite middle and high school students to see what the College of Engineering is like and to show them the cool things they could be involved in,” said Ann Pan, external publicity director for Engineering Open House and sophomore in Engineering.

A highlight of this year’s event is a special presentation by Grant Imahara, host of MythBusters, a science television program on the Discovery Channel.

The event, funded by the student organization resource fee, is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Foellinger Auditorium.