Eleven middle and high schools throughout Washoe and Lyon Counties came to the College of Engineering on Thursday to participate in E-Day, a program designed to get younger students interested in STEM.
Over 350 students from Northern Nevada middle and high schools attended, in addition to 50 students from Northern California high schools.
"This program is great because it gives them chances to see what programs are available to them," said Deedee Foster, assistant to the dean of Dilworth Middle School in Sparks. "The majority of the group are interested in science and engineering, and the information they get from the tour guides help them get the information they want for their future careers."
One demonstration for students was from the mining science and engineering department, where an interactive sand table showed how landscapes change with time and impact the flow of water. The use of virtual reality, or VR, was showcased as a simulation of driving a truck in an underground mine. The use of technology in that situation is important because it can prevent fatalities and people don't have to go in a dangerous mine.
"We work with robots and new technology in mining because Nevada is such a big mining state," said Javad Sattarvand, assistant professor of mining science and engineering. "About 88.5% of gold comes from here, so we're not the 'Silver State' but gold instead," he joked.
Florida Nasategay, a mining science and engineering student, said that it was fun to see new people in the lab and students learning about science and other opportunities at an early age.
"I'm excited for them," she said. "I didn't have that opportunity to explore college when I was younger, so this program is great."
Another discipline showed to the students was materials science and engineering department, where students learned about lithium ion batteries, and the mechanical engineering department, where assistant professor Matteo Aureli showed students robotics and some of his recent projects.
"People think as engineers, we fix cars and work with things like nuts and bolts, but we just do a lot of math," Aureli joked with the group of students.
The robots that Aureli is currently working with are some that he has recently won a CAREER award for. They could be used for scientific exploration, ecological conservation of local bodies of water, such as Lake Tahoe or Pyramid Lake, and to enhance underwater propulsion.
Smart gloves were another concept Aureli discussed with students, which monitor medical patients with illnesses such as strokes Parkinson's disease.