April 16, 2012
National event in Washington, D.C. is designed to showcase science education
LYCNHBURG--Randolph College will make its first appearance at the USA Science & Engineering Festival April 28-29 in Washington, D.C. Peter Sheldon, a Randolph physics professor and organizer of Randolph’s own popular Science Festival, will represent the College at the event, which draws students and parents from across the nation.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival hosted by Lockheed Martin offers a special appeal for budding entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers and programmers who will find the ideas, tools and resources to help them make their dreams a reality. From robotic technology to amazing desktop manufacturing technology that makes prototype development easy and cost-effective, the “makers” and innovators of society will find a wealth of inspiration throughout the Festival and Expo, as well as in the Robot Fest and DIY Expo pavilion, where creativity and technology meet.
“It is so important to show that science is important and relevant to everyone and every field,” Sheldon said. “Science education needs to be engaging and exciting, and these festivals show that it can be. As a liberal arts college that values education in the arts, sciences, and humanities, this is exactly the kind of event that we need to support to help to promote education, and particularly science education. In the schools, we lose children’s interest in science at an early age, and there is a shortage of American scientists. As adults, we are often told that science is important, but it is not often enough explained in terms we can all understand. A science festival is meant to help alleviate these problems.”
Organizations like MakerBot Industries, Fab Lab DCand Fab@Homeby Cornell University and Dassault Systèmes Americaswill show prospective inventors how they can develop product prototypes with 3D printers and digital fabrication. Sparkfun Electronicswill show participants how to bring new product ideas to life more easily and inexpensively than many of us may have thought was possible, through electronics and microcontroller kits. The Festival will also feature an array of robotic technology ranging from military, manufacturing and surgical robots to more entertaining robots like R2DC’s Star Wars droids and other exhibits that allow attendees to build their own robots.
“The Festival is a fantastic place for technical experts of all kinds to learn about the amazing advances that have been made in technology to help them make product prototypes from 3D printers, find designs online for parts and components, and meet an array of experts to help them bring their product ideas to life,” said Larry Bock, serial entrepreneur and executive director of the USA Science & Engineering Festival–the nation’s largest celebration of science and engineering. “If you’re an inventor or entrepreneur looking for inspiration, the Festival will be a wealth of ideas and the DIY Expo will provide the tools to get your ideas in motion.”
In addition, budding entrepreneurs will be able to network with members of various “hackerspace” groups who work collaboratively to network, socialize and develop technical solutions and new products in their spare time, simply because they love to tinker with new ideas, create something from nothing, and solve problems. The Baltimore Node, Unallocated Spaceand HacDCare three hackerspace groups participating in the DIY Expo and will show some of their recent projects like the HacDC spaceblimp. Unlike the more malicious forms of hacking, the hackerspace model is borne of an interest in collaboration, shared knowledge and tools to create and innovate.
“One of the most intriguing developments in the world of American innovation over the past few years has been the advancement in collaborative ‘crowdsourcing’ to make it easier for ideas to become reality by working together with like-minded individuals,” said Gary Mauler, founder of Robot Fest and host of the Robot Fest and DIY Expo pavilion at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. “The ‘hackerspace’ groups that have come together across the country are providing volunteer assistance to the defense industry and cyber-security industry, and they are now making an impact on assistive technology for individuals with disabilities, fashion and many other industries,” he added.
The Festival also features a Book Fairwhere some of the leading authors and experts in the DIY world will speak, including William Gurstelle, author of The Practical Pyromaniac, a professional engineer and has been researching and building model catapults, ballistic devices and flamethrowers for more than 30 years. His previous books include the best-selling Backyard Ballistics, among others.
“The USA Science & Engineering Festival is an amazing place for engineers and DIY enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology,” said Gurstelle. “I can’t imagine anyone in my field who wouldn’t find it to be a tremendously inspiring event, full of creative fuel to spark that next great idea or invention.”
Dustyn Roberts, author of Making Things Move: DIY Mechanisms for Inventors, Hobbyists and Artists, will also appear at the Festival. Roberts is an engineer who started her career at Honeybee Robotics working on the Sample Manipulation System project for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. She is the founder of Dustyn Robots where she consults on projects ranging from gait analysis to designing guided parachute systems.
“I’m looking forward to this year’s Festival to find out what all of the world’s leading innovators have developed to demonstrate the wonders of modern science and engineering,” said Roberts. “I’m particularly excited to see the array of female innovators who will be sharing their expertise and inspiring young girls to consider a career in the science, technology, engineering or math fields.”
The USA Science & Engineering Festival and Book Fair is a free, family-friendly event that allows kids and adults to participate in over 2,000 hands-on activities and see more than 200 live performances by science celebrities, explorers, best-selling authors, entrepreneurs and world-renowned experts. For inventors and others looking for ideas and information, the Festival offers a smorgasbord of scientific and technological wonders that will entertain as it inspires the American spirit of innovation.
About the USA Science & Engineering Festival:
The USA Science & Engineering Festival is the country’s only national science festival, and was developed to increase public awareness of the importance of science and to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and engineering by celebrating science in much the same way as we celebrate Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and pop stars. Lockheed Martin is again the presenting host of the USA Science & Engineering Festival and is joined by many other Festival sponsors and partners. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a grassroots collaboration of over 500 of the United States leading science and engineering organizations. For more information on the USA Science & Engineering Festival, please visit the Festival website.