Hundreds Participate In Engineering Themes Month

Hundreds of IIT engineering undergraduates joined with dozens of IIT alumni and faculty to help celebrate Engineering Themes Month, which consisted of 20-plus events exploring all facets of engineering and its relation to water, energy, health, and security.

With a week dedicated to each theme, the month’s eclectic offerings included community outreach events, fund-raising activities, field trips, faculty research expositions, electric racecar demos and panel discussions that featured IIT alums and renowned experts from government, academia, and industry.

Highlights from week one—dedicated to water—included a trip to Chicago’s 31st Street Beach. Led by IIT Armour College of Engineering Dean Natacha DePaola, students, faculty, and staff combed the shore for trash, tested the beach’s water quality and collected various forms of data about this invaluable ecosystem.

Water Week wrapped up with a guided tour of the Mainstream Pumping Station in Hodgkins, Illinois.  The 50 attendees descended 350 feet below ground to directly observe the station’s infrastructure, which is designed to capture combined sewer overflows from an area of 375 square miles in the Chicagoland area. Throughout, students interacted with on-site engineers, discussing the station’s specs and its creation.

Week two centered on energy and boasted an electric racecar demo. After meeting with students to discuss the e-car’s genesis and its components, members of the Illinois Tech Formula Electric Team got behind the wheel and showed off the car’s lightning-quick acceleration and its formidable handling.

During Energy Week, Armour College also teamed with the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation to host two tours of IIT’s first-of-its-kind smart grid infrastructure. Attendees saw first-hand how IIT is using renewable sources of energy (wind and solar) to power the campus.

Dedicated to health, the third week of Themes Month featured a trip to the International Museum of Surgical Science. In addition to perusing the museum’s offerings (exhibits on medical imaging, stem cell research, spinal surgery, and more), students enjoyed a simulated amputation demo and attended a lecture on surgical instruments.

An additional week-three highlight: a hybrid event that saw students testing their physical prowess with a series of calorie-burning sessions. Following said sessions, participants used student-created fitness apps to track both their heart rate and calories burned. In between breaks in the action, students flexed their mental muscles while filtering through a faculty research expo featuring rehab devices, blood flow simulations, medical imaging technology, and more.

Capping off the month, Security Week culminated with an outdoor movie screening that doubled as a fund-raiser (refreshment sale proceeds) for Cure Violence, a local nonprofit that aims to reverse the spread of violence in Chicago. This charitable event acted as a perfect bookend for a wonderful, educational, engaging month.