Posted February 27, 2012

Robots, hovercraft highlight Engineers Week exhibit

Commuters hustling through Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station on their way to work last Friday morning saw some unusual sights: a voice and video-enabled robot that can be remotely controlled over the Internet, a small-scale hovercraft being piloted across the floor by an iPad, a radio-controlled truck driven by human muscle movements and a bicycle generating electricity.

These were among the several engineering projects that were being demonstrated for railway commuters by students from Temple’s College of Engineering as part of the week-long celebration of National Engineers Week.

Nearly a dozen students, faculty and staff from the College of Engineering took part in the demo, which was arranged by Joseph Picone, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering.

“We are very excited to be part of National Engineers Week and to be here at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, showing the city of Philadelphia how important the College of Engineering is and all of the great things going on in engineering at Temple,” said Picone, who added that the reception from commuters as well as those who work at 30th Street Station was very positive.

“It’s very important in this country that we train more engineers,” he said. “It’s a really integral part of our economy and the future of this country. We’re here doing our part to try to encourage students from all walks of life to pursue engineering careers.”

Friday’s public demonstration was the finale in week-long celebration that included numerous events for Temple engineering students, faculty and alumni. They included a showcase of engineering projects and facilities; a keynote address by Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science Magazine; student competitions; and an alumni/student social networking event.

“We did a number of events through the week,” said Picone. “Our keynote speaker, Dr. Alberts, who is influential in the creation of public policy on math and science education, spoke about emerging directions in education. We had an academic bowl where students competed against faculty on a variety of engineering topics. We had several events that encouraged professional development. We even had a three-mile fun run to promote engineering’s impact on world health. It was an event-filled week.”