College of Engineering News Room
USF Engineering Expo Goes Virtual for its 49th Year
by Russell Nay
Since 1973, Engineering Expo has conducted a two-day, hands-on science fair for K-12 students at the USF Tampa campus. Amid an unprecedented pandemic, the students of this year’s Expo planning committee pivoted Expo’s experiments and experiences online to continue the tradition of College of Engineering’s longest running event.
In place of a two-day event on campus, Expo was transformed into a five-day, virtual event with student organizations and industry partners presenting remotely via Microsoft Teams or submitting pre-recorded videos to the USF Engineering Expo YouTube channel.
“This year's Engineering Expo was designed with the safety of our attendees and presenters in mind,” said Valentina Salcedo, Expo planning committee student president. “In the lieu of the current global situation, we decided to hold our event entirely virtual but still accomplishing our mission of inspiring the youth of our community to get involved with STEM and explore the endless amount of opportunities these fields have for them.”
Run entirely by USF engineering students each year, Expo typically attracts 15,000 K-12 students, teachers and parents to campus. Salcedo said the Expo planning committee hopes the event has a much broader outreach this year due to its recorded nature. Live presentations were recorded and uploaded to the USF Engineering Expo YouTube channel alongside videos submitted before Expo, and each can be viewed by K-12 students around the world.
Salcedo said that moving Engineering Expo entirely online took lots of passion and creativity. The team was motivated by a desire to give back to the community and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
“There was a lot of thought and effort put into how we could still offer meaningful experiences for our K-12 students while not compromising their safety, and through the dedication and creativity of our organizing board, we were able to accomplish this,” she said.
This year, there were 27 live sessions throughout the week ranging from demonstrations on unpoppable bubbles, to holding fire in one’s hand, cancer-treatment lasers, arm wrestling robots, robot soccer games and lab tours. During live presentations, audience members could ask exhibitors questions about each experiment or showcase as well as answer questions to participate in giveaways for more than 50 expo-at-home kits. These allow lucky winners to perform hands-on science experiments from the safety of their homes.
The USF Engineering Expo website also featured an Expo DIY section this year. The page contains video guides for K-12 students to conduct their own home experiments with simple household materials, complete with explanations of the scientific principles behind each experiment.
Sponsors of the 2021 USF Engineering Expo include MOSI, TECO, Lockheed Martin, ASHRAE’s Florida West Coast chapter, iD Tech, Gopher Resource, Mosaic and American Structurepoint Inc.