Engineering Explorations 2020

  • Colin teaches about Engineering inventions and their timeline

Last week, from Tuesday (2/18) to Friday (2/21) our 2020 iteration of the Engineering Explorations program took place.

On Tuesday, we introduced the Engineering Design Process and learned about Mechanical Engineering in more detail. The day started with some team-building exercises, then we discussed what we consider our most important technological inventions, and putting them on a timeline based on when the students thought they were invented. This activity was followed up by a “What Is It” engineering challenge, where students try to identify what an object is and what problem the thing solves. Northeastern’s chapter of ASME then came in and did an activity with remote control cars. The day was rounded out with an egg drop activity, where we dropped the egg protection devices off the ISEC bridge.

On Wednesday, the theme was Chemical- and Bio- engineering. We started the day with a campus tour / scavenger hunt, discovering many of the interesting/little known things on campus. We started the day by visiting a Chemical Engineering Lab with Tracy Carter, then went to ISEC where we learned about and built tensegrity structures with grad students from Hari Parameswaran’s lab. We also visited the Exercise Science Lab with Professor Rui Li and Dagmar Sternad’s Action Lab. We finished the day by doing some science experiments with Northeastern’s chapter of AIChE.

On Thursday, we focused on Civil and Environmental Engineering. The day started with a transportation timeline activity – the most surprising/confusing inventions (time-wise) was the Penny Farthing and the Funicular. Next, Professor Andy Myers came in with a couple grad students from his lab and taught about energy and Wind Turbines, and the students were able to build and test their own turbine blade designs. Next, the students learned about Natural Disasters and came up with a list of potential emergency kit supplies they could keep ready for disasters. The students also visited the Earthquake Lab in the Civil Engineering department, where they learned about resonance frequency and designed K-NEX structures to resist an Earthquake. Their structures survived the first two tests, but ultimately succumbed as the magnitude rose. The day was rounded out with students polluting the “Charles River” and then designing and testing filters for this dirty water.

On the final day, Friday, the students started the day by learning about Industrial Engineering through a Lego Car Assembly project, learning the pros and cons of assembly-style vs individual-style manufacturing processes. Next, the students took everything they’d learned that week and made Mind Maps around the word “Engineering.” The students also visited the Engineering for Everyone Expo, as well as the First Year Engineering Learning and Innovation Center. We wrapped up the day by watching the engineering film <a href=”https://dreambigfilm.com/”>Dream Big</a>.

Thank you to all participants, parents, NU students and volunteers, and professors for making this week possible! I had a blast, and I hope everyone else did too! -Nick Fuchs

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