University of Illinois Engineering Open House 2017 — The iSEE Guide to Green Exhibits

The iSEE Guide to Green Exhibits @ ILLINOIS Engineering Open House 2017

Illinois’ EOH 2017, “Illuminate New Horizons,” features dozens of displays, activities, and exhibits about innovations in energy, environmental understanding, and sustainability. In addition, the Beckman Institute’s biannual open house features another six in-depth offerings to explore. We’ve already scanned the 42-page visitors guide and pulled out all the sustainability-related booths. Check out our list, and then to go check out some awesome research and engineering being done by Illinois students!


Energy     |     Transportation      |     Environment     |     Sustainable Products

Both EOH and the Beckman Institute Open House are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 10, and 9 to 3 Saturday, March 11. The Beckman Institute is at 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana (the corner of Mathews and University). To find buildings referenced, use this handy engineering campus map (on page 4) from the EOH organizers.


Illinois Solar Decathlon

Illinois Solar Decathlon is giving tours of a net zero energy solar homes! Come and learn about how students created an emergency home that runs off of sustainable energy.

Location: Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Lobby

Smart Air Vent

In this project, we build a self-control vent register for a central air conditioner to achieve a constant temperature in each small room for a large building or apartment.

Location: Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Lobby

Illini Algae

Partner up undergraduate with graduate students to help work on projects using algae and laboratory techniques to learn and work with relevant systems in bio-energy sustainability, and help advance research currently happening on campus.

Location: Digital Computer Laboratory Lobby Center

Impact of Natural Gas in Our Environment

Activities on gas generating reactions and educating students on the environmental impacts of natural gases.

Location: Engineering Hall room 106B3

Hydrogen Fuel Cells and their Applications

The scope of this project will include researching the processes involved in hydrogen fuel cells as well as their applications as a renewable energy 29 source and an analysis of benefits and consequences of the cell vehicle technology.

Location: Loomis Laboratory of Physics room 136

Batteries for the Future

Learn more about the science behind powering modern life, from your electronics to your home. We will showcase batteries made from household items and those at the cutting edge of science.

Location: Beckman Institute Atrium

Net Zero Home

A net zero home equipped with solar powered lighting, geothermal heating, and the latest addition: a wind turbine! Come learn about how a net zero home works and test out our model.

Location: Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Lobby

Solar Tracker

This demo shows that a panel that can track the sun will generate more power over the course of day than a fixed panel.

Location: Electrical and Computer Engineering Building room 4024

Illinois Biodiesel Initiative

The Illinois Biodiesel Initiative is a student run organization that is committed to reducing emissions and promoting sustainability on campus. We primarily do this through the production of biodiesel. We take waste vegetable oil from the dining halls and convert it to biodiesel using our large reactor system in Roger Adams Laboratory. We also take the glycerol byproduct from the reaction and turn it into soap, which is then sold back to the dining halls. We also have several side projects involving biodiesel and sustainability.

Location: Engineering Hall room 106B3

Raspberry Solar Cell

We are going to create a simpler version of solar cell. This cell is able to generate electricity using light, natural dyes, and berries. The goal of the demonstration is to use the generated electricity to light LED bulb/ run calculator.

Location: Engineering Quad – Grainger Lawn

Photoelastic and Photoluminescence Characterization of Photovoltaic Silicon Wafers

Introducing a polarized infrared imaging system to non-destructively characterize stress and defects in silicon wafers before further production into solar cells.

Location: Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Lobby


Illini EcoConcept Car

We are a car team that is dedicated to designing and fabricating a hydrogen-fuel cell automobile to compete in the Shell Eco Marathon in the Urban Concept category.

Location: Engineering Quad – Grainger Lawn

Eco Illini Superefficient Car

A prototype vehicle designed to push the limits of fuel efficiency. Current average of 1000 mpg. We compete at the Shell Eco Marathon competitions each year.

Location: Grainger Library Loading Dock

Illini Formula Electric Racecar

Illini Formula Electric (IFE) is a student organization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that participates 23 in the Formula North competition, which is hosted and sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The goal of the competition is to design, fabricate, and race an all-electric race car marketed towards the weekend autocross racer.

Location: Grainger Library Loading Dock

Illini Solar Car

We will have our vehicle that will at least be driving if not completed. Additionally, we will have a display talking about and displaying some of our technologies in the car.

Location: Mechanical Engineering Laboratory Lobby


Wave attenuation by aquatic vegetation

This exhibition will illustrate the role of aquatic vegetation in coastal and ecological environments by means of wave attenuation. Mechanisms such as wave geometry and sediment transport attenuation may be captured through this experimental setup.

Location: Hydrosystems Lab

Journey through the Amazon River

In this exhibition, guests will experience the breadth of the Amazon River by means of a simulated submarine ride. In this exhibit, guests will experience first-hand the largest river in the world.

Location: Hydrosystems Lab

Groundwater Flow Model

In this exhibit you can see how water flows underneath the Earth’s surface. Just as water moves on the surface through rivers, lakes, and oceans, it is also constantly moving below the surface.

Location: Hydrosystems Lab

Sandbox Hydrology

This educational sandbox + flow table model is all about hydrology. We can design a sandy landscape to increase or decrease surface runoff, ponding areas, and infiltration rates to recharge the underlying aquifers.

Location: Hydrosystems Lab

Saving Nemo

All drains lead to the ocean! Help us make sure the dirty water coming out of our homes gets clean enough for the fish. We’ll walk through the steps that real world water treatment plants take to ensure our water is healthy for the environment!

Location: Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory Crane Bay

How much water is in my cheeseburger?

The exhibit, “How much water is in my cheeseburger?” explores the ultimate destination of water removed from aquifers by quantifying the embodied water – water that is expended in the production, transport, and other life-cycle stages – of products commonly used or consumed by the average person.

Location: Hydrosystems Lab


A hands-on look at biological inspirations for various materials solutions. An interactive exhibit that lets kids play with sand as they learn about how material scientists look towards nature for solutions to everyday problems. Adults and kids alike can also appreciate the demonstrations related to gecko inspired adhesives, technology reminiscent of Spider-Man abilities to climb.

Location: Material Science and Engineering Building Lobby

Stratton Elementary: Learning Science by Growing Coral Reef Ecosystems

For the past three years a team of dedicated students at Stratton Elementary has built fully functioning coral reef ecosystems and those students are learning marine biology through breeding clownfish, propagating coral and more. This exhibit will showcase Stratton’s partnership with Beckman Institute researchers. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students will showcase inquiry-based science and STEAM learning (traditional STEM learning with the addition of art). Visit their interactive exhibit for presentations on cutting-edge science instruction, to learn about fish and invertebrate aquaculture, see live jellyfish, and experience a tide pool touch tank.

Brief presentations are scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.; and Saturday at 10 a.m., noon and
2 p.m.

Location: Beckman Institute room 1005


The Optimal Chapstick

Our group will be making homemade chapstick out of all natural materials that can be easily found in any supermarket. It is a cost effective, environmentally friendly, and efficient way to make something people use every day, and is directly related to a chemical engineer’s real job in industry. We will be testing to see which ingredients make the overall best chapstick.

Location: Loomis Laboratory of Physics room 158

The Secret Life of Babies 

Chemicals are everywhere in our environment, including food packaging and personal care products we use every day. This exhibit will show how Beckman researchers are studying the impact these chemicals have on how babies think.

Location: Beckman Institute Atrium

How Computer Vision Can Assist Other Fields of Research

Come and see how interdisciplinary collaboration in our lab leads to scientific research for developing new technologies to solve real-world problems. Find out how artificial neural networks learn to understand images to enable civil engineers to keep our trains safe, see how image analysis and wireless sensor information can assist agriculture researchers to help small farmers increase the world food supply, and a host of other innovations from the Computer Vision and Robotics Laboratory.

Location: Beckman Institute Atrium

Illinois Biodiesel Initiative: Sustainable Soap

Learn about how bar soap is made and about sustainable 30 biodiesel and soap production on campus.

Location: Loomis Laboratory of Physics room 144

Edible Liquids!

Spherification, a method used in molecular gastronomy, is the process of creating a thin, gel like membrane around a liquid, such as water, through the reaction of the two chemicals sodium alginate and calcium lactate. This allows for the liquid to be edible, providing an alternative and biodegradable way to encapsulate liquids rather than using plastic.

Location: Loomis Laboratory of Physics Lobby

Autonomous Materials for Next-Generation Systems

The Autonomous Materials Systems (AMS) Lab aims to impart biologically inspired functions to next-generation multifunctional materials. These new materials will be included in the airplanes, automobiles, and infrastructure of the future. We demonstrate exciting achievements such as plastics that self-heal from mechanical damage to extend their useful lifetime, batteries that can shut down automatically to avoid catching fire, coatings that change color when scratched to help make pipes and other structures safer, and composites containing intriguing vascular architectures. Our exhibits highlight topics including how these materials are made and integrated into composite structures and the science of microcapsule fabrication. We also will demonstrate the capabilities of modern manufacturing tools like 3D printing and laser cutting. Find us in the Atrium and stop by our labs for the full experience.

Location: Beckman Institute Atrium & room 3712


ILLINOIS Engineering Open House

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The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Beckman Institute Open House Website

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