When coated in liquid nitrogen, a daisy is frozen solid. Its living cells become perfectly preserved for scientists to study.
The effects and usefulness of liquid nitrogen on objects was one of the many demonstrations Washoe County middle and high school students viewed at the College of Engineering's Engineers Day. Nearly 300 students visited research laboratories to learn about the many disciplines of engineering taught at the University: civil, environmental, mining, geological, computer science, electrical, biomedical, chemical, materials science and mechanical.
"We bring students to campus so they can experience different engineering possibilities first-hand," Meg Fitzgerald, one of the organizers for Engineers Day and coordinator from the College of Engineering's recruitment, retention and advising department, said. "We find that when students experience engineering, it creates a longer-lasting impression."
Students alternated through 17 workshops with hands-on experiments led by College of Engineering and Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering research students, faculty and staff. Workshops included mineral extraction methods, mine ventilation and stability, video game design, traffic flow monitoring, the future of biofuels, LED light optimization, chemical reactions with liquid nitrogen, and interaction with microorganisms. Students visited the Center for Advanced Transportation Education and Research and the Bioinstrumentation and Automation Laboratory, broke rocks, froze bananas and flowers, and tested the frequency of their own voice.
"It's fun," undergraduate engineering student Gus Merwin said when asked by a student why he spent time doing research in a lab. "I get to melt solid metal with liquid nitrogen. How cool is that?"
At the conclusion of each workshop, leaders explained the application of their experiments. Students were also encouraged to study engineering in college.
"Engineers of all types are in great demand," Tom Seal, an associate professor of mining engineering, said.
Engineers Day, now in its twelfth year, strives to raise awareness among local middle school and high school students about the importance of engineering. Various projects and exhibits are hosted each year.