BARC at Discovery Days 2018
Last week students from all over the Seattle area descended onto the University of Washington for the annual Engineering Discovery Days, where over 7,000 K-12 students, and their teachers and family participate in hands-on activities and demos related to engineering.
The event, which takes place over the course of two days, has each engineering department and various clubs host experiments and demonstrations for the students to take part in. Such visual demonstrations, typically by engineering undergraduate and graduate students, are attractive means to garner the interest of visiting students and to convey the application of engineering principles, and motivate students to pursue an engineering career.
Two projects from the Boeing Advanced Research Center (BARC) were used to demonstrate engineering concepts at UW's Engineering Discovery Days, The first was a Haptic Feedback Controller. Students were given the option to select from multiple surfaces, which showed how to provide the user physical (haptic) feedback as to where the cursor is or what it is touching. This Virtual and Augmented Reality technology could help remote manipulation of objects in a manufacturing setting. In the deformable membrane demonstration (shown above), as the user pushed up into the membrane, the user could feel the resistance building up in the controller, until ultimately breaking through the membrane.
The second demonstration was a Robotic Arm, which challenged the students to control a robotic arm and hand to move a cup from one location to the next. Some of the students were even able to figure out the controls and movements of the robot quickly, posting times of less than 30 seconds. Pretty fast!
Students were excited to participate in the experiments across campus, and surely some were further inspired to go into an engineering discipline. Overall the demonstrations made by the BARC and the other engineering groups made for a very fun and successful event.