Thayer’s open house showcases lab research
By Turia Lahlou, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, April 14, 2008
Noisy gadgets and roaming robots attracted local families and engineering enthusiasts alike to Thayer School of Engineering's annual open house on Friday. The public was invited to tour the school's laboratories and work areas to see engineering in action.
"The best part is the response from people who come, and the range -- everyone from kindergarteners, to grade-schoolers, to prospective students, to Dartmouth students, to graduate students, to faculty, to a CEO," event organizer and Thayer professor Christopher Levey said. "Each can engage at their own level."
The goal of the open house is to present Thayer's engineering research to children and other community members who otherwise would not have access to the laboratories, according to Levey.
"Anyone who thinks engineering is geeky can come here and see how fun it really is," Levey said.
Sam Glueck, a 12-year-old who attended the event, said he is interested in math and science, especially robotics.
"Every time there is [an open house] I come," Glueck said. "I love these things. I love anything to do with science."
Glueck added that his favorite presentation was an exploration robot, nicknamed Yetti, that was showcased in the robotics research lab.
The majority of the displays, ranging from hydrogen fuel cells to multimodal functional brain imaging, were interactive, allowing attendees to engage with the projects. The open house aims to entertain attendees while showcasing the relevant and innovative work that takes place in Thayer's research labs, Levey said.
"We are working to improve society," Levey said. "We are working on the conversion of biofuels to ethanol, looking at hybrid technology, among other things, on the energy side."
A police scout robot named SWATbot that was developed by Jacob Jurmain '08 was one example of technology that has tangible social benefits.
"I built this with my dad when I was 15," Jurmain said. "We worked with the local SWAT team, it was fun... They tested it by trying to capture me using the robot."
The showcase also gives Thayer students the opportunity to share their research with their peers. Yifeng Lian Th'09 demonstrated a tensile testing and strain machine in front of a group of students and community members. The machine can generate up to 10,000 pounds of pull on metals and measure the force and displacement of the metals.
"I like to see the kids shocked by the loud sound the machine makes," Lian said. "I am also glad to meet alumni and people who don't know about engineering or Thayer School."