OU welcomes prospective engineers

Feb. 22—The University of Oklahoma's Memorial Union was bustling Tuesday with high school students and teachers who joined representatives from the Gallogly College of Engineering for its annual open house.

Nearly 1,000 visitors, including 830 students, came to Norman from across the state to take part in engineering-related events and activities.

A university news release called it the largest gathering the engineering college has held in more than a decade.

"This year, it's the biggest one we've had in 15 years. It may be our record," said Randa Shehab, senior associate dean of the Gallogly College of Engineering. "We have 830 student registrations. That's not counting the teachers that come with them."

Several Oklahoma school districts that had never participated were on hand, including Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, Silo High School, The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, Adair High School, and Lone Grove Public Schools.

"We have about 15 new school districts participating," Shehab said. "We have Stilwell coming. We have schools we've never seen come to the event. With our efforts to reach students in their communities, we're also getting more students interested in coming to campus."

Kayla Pierson, coordinator of outreach and recruitment at the Gallogly College of Engineering, helped run the event. She said her outreach team has visited many schools throughout Oklahoma to recruit engineering students.

"I do recruitment events, and so I'll go to high schools and I'll talk with those students," she sad. "Today, I've seen about 30 that I've seen at other events. It is about visibility and letting people know we're here and showing them a good time."

Students competed in activities that included building a model bridge, programming a dance for a robot, an egg drop, learning how to make a DC motor, building a ping pong ball launcher, and creating a roller coaster design.

Eddy Kang, a student at Casady School in Oklahoma City, built a wheeled contraption that holds four chicken eggs that he was about to roll down a ramp similar to a pinewood derby ramp.

"We are doing an egg car. It's basically where we put four eggs inside a structure we prebuilt, and just roll it down a ramp and see if it survives," he said.

When asked if he thought the eggs would not break, he said that he hoped so.

"I'm pretty confident," he said.

Eddy came with his friends at the suggestion of his physics teacher so he could learn about what the university had to offer in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

Pierson said many students come to college not understanding what engineering is, so events like this help kids understand the different options students have to choose from.

"Engineering is a discipline that a lot of people think they know about, but they actually don't," she said. "What we are trying to do is show students what engineering is in general, and what the engineering disciplines are so they can see not only what it is, but what you can do with it."

Sen Seymour, a junior in computer engineering at OU who volunteered at the event by giving a poster presentation to students as they passed by. Seymour said he was still learning about material science and engineering, which explores the fundamentals of design and processing for real world applications.

"I didn't even know about it until last year," he said. "This is pretty cool stuff because it is the foundation of where everything starts.

"We should get more people into this so we can roll that industry to finding ways to use new materials for different applications."