Annual Engineering Open House sparks community’s interest

UIUC students demonstrated a “dancing” liquid at the Fluid Frenzy booth during EOH in the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory on Mar 14.

The College of Engineering held its 95th annual Engineering Open House, featuring over 250 exhibits on Friday and Saturday.

Jon Henricks, director of the open house, said the goal of the event is to give the local community, as well as alumni, an opportunity to see what the University’s Engineering students are doing. The event was held on the Bardeen and Beckman quads.

“It gives us an opportunity to encourage younger generations of students from middle schools and high schools to explore STEM education fields,” Henricks said.

WIDE — Wide Impact Developmental Engineering

Wide Impact Developmental Engineering is a group focused on developing technologies for developing countries.

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“We differentiate ourselves from other groups that have similar focuses because we like to focus on the technologies versus the communities,” said Phillip Lange, technical director of WIDE.

The group is currently in the process of designing a wind turbine. The wind turbine is an end-to-end solution for communities that are removed from power infrastructure.

At its display at the open house, WIDE presented a vertical axis wind turbine that can charge a 12-volt car battery, or power electronic items, like a cellphone.

SAE Baja: Off-Road Illini

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SAE Baja, a returning booth to the engineering fair, is part of the Society of Automotive Engineers. The group designs and builds an off-road vehicle, called a Baja car, every year.

“It’s pretty cool because it is students doing all the work. We get to create something of our own and then actually drive it,” said Aisha Benidettino, member of the Baja SAE car suspension team.

On display was a car designed and built by the organization last year. The car, named “Polly,” raced in two competitions in Kansas and Illinois.

Illini Motorsports

Illini Motorsports displayed a four-cylinder motorcycle engine, as well as design posters that showcased the new design of the engine for this year.

Benjamin Williams, freshman in Engineering, works with brake parts. This year, he said the group was able to cut two pounds off of their brake through the implementation of a new brake design.

Members of Illini Motorsports compete in annual competitions in locations like Australia, Brazil, Italy and Germany.

IOA — Illini Aerospace Outreach

Illini Aerospace Outreach is an program at the University for students interested in Aerospace Engineering.

Michael Miller, IAO president, said the organization is in a partnership with Rolls-Royce.

The group displayed an Olympus jet engine, used in the Concorde airliner, that was donated by Rolls-Royce.

ASHRAE — American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers

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The University chapter of the national professional organization, ASHRAE, demonstrated and explained the mechanism of an at-home air-conditioning system at its booth.

The group also displayed a refrigeration system and different types of heating exchanges going from most basic topics of research.

“The fair is a great opportunity for people from the community to get excited about engineering and different projects,” said Bill Davies, graduate student in mechanical engineering.

Fluids Frenzy — American Society of Mechanical Engineers

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The group presented a non-newtonian fluids exhibit with a “cornstarch monster.” The liquid-like mixture turned solid as soon as vibrations and forces hit it.

The process is called “shear thickening,” said Vikram Shah, junior in mechanical engineering. Another example of non-newtonian fluids would be ketchup, he said, although ketchup’s property is “shear thinning” because force is applied to the ketchup bottle so it will ease out, rather than turn solid.

The actual mixture was made of cornstarch, water and some food coloring. It took a few weeks to make, but Shah said getting the mechanism to not vibrate too much was his biggest problem.

Shah said he must keep the frequency fixed and adjust the mixture of the cornstarch because it dried out very easily.

The purpose of the exhibit, Shah said, was to “promote excitement for fluid properties.”

Parker Hannifin Chainless Challenge

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The Parker Hannifin Chainless Challenge is a competition taking place in California in April, where around a dozen schools present a hydraulic fluid transmission bicycle. The competition promotes finding alternatives to existing bicycle technology.

Christian Dawson, senior in mechanical engineering, presented his senior design project at the Engineering Open House. He said the challenge’s biggest message is to think outside the box.

“This is a system that is not ideal for human power, but in using it in a human-powered vehicle, we are trying to bring technologies together that we never thought about bringing together before,” Dawson said. “And sometimes in doing that you will get solutions that you never thought of before.”

Dawson’s team called their bike the FLEET — FLuid, Energy, Equip, Transport. The team has been designing and building the bike since Fall 2014.

“It has been really fulfilling as a senior in engineering to have something in your head and actually build it and be able to ride around on it, and taking something from drawings to actually physically building it has been a really fulfilling experience for all of us,” Dawson said.

Key In: Innovative Garage Control Technology — Society of Women Engineers

The Society of Women Engineers’ Team Tech has been working with Chamberlain, a manufacturer of garage doors, this year to redesign and improve the features on garage door keypads.

The group is currently working on creating a fingerprint scanner that can open the garage, rather than needing a passcode, as well as a mobile app that allows users to manage their garage door on their phone.

Ujwal Kiran, freshman in aerospace engineering, and Jessica Lee, freshman in industrial engineering, are in the second phase of design and had models and templates to show off because they will present the final designs at a national conference in October.

“We are trying to help with safety and security,” Kiran said. “A lot of these designs have temporary passwords or remote access to be able to close you change your garage door.”

The girls have been working since August and said the open house allowed them to ask consumers what kinds of features they prefer in a garage door opener.

“Our goal is to create something that is efficient, and we want it to be more modernized than it already is,” Lee said. “We want to help save power and make everything easier for people to use.”

3D Printing Lab — Manufacturing Laboratory

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Kim Ziolkowski, senior in mechanical engineering, has been working in the University’s MechSE Rapid Prototyping Lab for a year-and-a-half.

Ziolkowski has gained experience during her time using and maintaining the printers, which she said can cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

People use the labs for a variety of purposes, Ziolkowski said. This includes senior design projects, research projects or professors needing specific parts for independent studies. She added that personal projects will come through as well, to create items like phone cases or keychains.

In her time at the lab, Ziolkowski has helped on these projects as well as submitted her own.

Hydroelectricity — American Society of Mechanical Engineers

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Students from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers displayed a model hydroelectric dam, which they said uses both electrical and mechanical engineering principles.

With their model, the students explained how the dam turns potential energy from water into electricity; the dam takes advantage of fluid dynamics, which creates kinetic energy and produces electricity.

The model took about a month to make and the exhibit was specifically designed for the Engineering Open House.

Audrey Chou, sophomore in mechanical engineering, said a hydroelectric dam is a good source of alternative energy, especially when considering that Illinois is largely powered by nuclear power plants.

“You can take advantage of an element, nature, and use it to power man-made things,” Chou said.

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