School of Engineering Hosts Open House With Registered Student Organizations

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Updated on April 8, 2024: Audrey Hotopp was corrected to Autumn Hotopp.

The University of Indianapolis R.B. Annis School of Engineering held an open house for community members between grades 7 through 12 to showcase what the department has to offer, according to a post on the School of Engineering’s Instagram. Held on Feb. 24, the open house ran from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with lunch and UIndy swag provided to those that attended. The Instagram post highlighted that the open house was led and organized by students within the engineering program, more specifically, the registered student organizations that are affiliated with the engineering program. 

Photo by Allison Cook The School of Engineering’s open house visitors work on building a bottle rocket during the Feb. 24 event. The event was organized by students within the engineering program and included several different events that included students, faculty, guests, and parents.

According to Associate Dean and Director of Engineering Ken Reid, the four RSOs that worked together to organize the event were the Society for Women Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society for Mechanical Engineering, and the UIndy Racing Club. Reid said the event was run well by the students, creating events for those who attended—including the parents if they were interested.

“We just basically let our student organizations create an open house, figure out what activities should be done, who should we invite, what do we have for lunch, everything,” Reid said. “They did a great job. So not only did we invite students and their families, their parents came. So if you were to walk by any activity that was going on, you would see students and their parents all in there doing some hands-on engineering and it looked like everybody had a lot of fun.”

Being a new program, Reid said the intent was to open up engineering at UIndy to the community. According to Reid, they wanted to get people to learn more about the program, facilities and people that exist within the department by engaging in hands-on activities led by the RSOs. Associate Professor of Engineering Paul Talaga said that those who went to the open house participated in two of the various events held by the RSOs.

“The activities there were hands-on engineering activities,” Talaga said. “… They were programming small robots to go through a little maze. Another one was they were making little marshmallow trebuchets out of popsicle sticks. … There was a rocket building activity in the afternoon, as well as a mousetrap race car from the race team.”

According to senior general engineering student and President of the UIndy RSO for the Society of Women Engineers Autumn Hotopp, it was not just those who signed up for the open house who participated in their events throughout the day. Hotopp also said their events held the attention of all that attended.

“For the activities we did invite not only the students but the parents and the guests that came with them,” Hotopp said. “So it was very hands-on from every standpoint. And then the student volunteers that came through the RSOs participated [in the events] as well. We had some competitions between students and then the guests for them, like catapults and stuff. … I honestly think the parents had a great time too.”

According to Reid, there has been a previous open house for the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, but none quite like this one. He stressed the importance of the students being involved within the process.

Photo by Allison Cook Guests at the School of Engineering’s open house work to build a race car with CDs for wheels and a mousetrap as the motor. Visitors got to experience hands-on work throughout the day and collaborate with current students on their projects.

“… We’ve had one in the past,” Reid said. “That one was a little bit more formal, formal invitations went out. It was a program, we did some slides, that kind of thing. This one was just hands-on. Come in and try some things out. Probably the biggest difference though was that this one was run by students. The students did all the programming and figured out everything that we needed to do, and they really did a great job.”

Reid said he hopes this event was able to promote the department, generating more word of mouth and attraction for the community members and those that want to experience engineering in the future. Reid said the goal and benefit of hosting the open house was to get others within the community to see why the R.B. Annis School of Engineering believes it is the top engineering school in the area.

According to Hotopp, she believes there was a benefit of hosting and being an RSO that participated to allow those interested to be introduced into the world of engineering at a younger age than college. Beyond what is offered over the summer, Hotopp said she hopes that these programs will promote retention of interest.

“We were just trying to open it up to more of the community and try to get some of those students involved so that as they go up in grades, they all want to come back and learn more, and it’s kind of hopefully retaining them too,” Hotopp said. “Because I know at my middle school, that’s when we started looking at colleges, so it’s trying to just get them introduced young. That way they’ll already have their foot in the door.”

According to Reid and Talaga, they both hope this event can be replicated in the future. With the engineering program being so new—just seven years old—the outcome of this event was great to get people through the door, Reid said.

“Yeah, it was such a success,” Reid said. “We’ll just put it on the calendar every year.”

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