Jenny Wells


College: Engineering

Engineering Creativity on Display at UK's E-Day

Published: Feb 22, 2013

See video

Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing. To view a transcript, click here


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2013) — How would you mail a single potato chip without it breaking? Protect an egg from a three-story drop? Build a tower out of spaghetti and gumdrops?


These aren't the kinds of challenges you run into every day. But each taps into creative problem-solving, a critical skill for engineers to have. And all of those are actual projects you can see for yourself at the annual University of Kentucky Engineers Day Open House, also known as E-Day. Hosted by the UK College of Engineering, the popular event features contests, displays and demonstrations for elementary, middle, and high school students along with their families.  


The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 in the Engineering Complex at UK. The event also will be held at UK's engineering campus at Western Kentucky Community and Technical College's Crounse Hall in Paducah from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (CST). Online registration (one per family recommended) is available at


Some 15 different student groups at the College of Engineering organize and oversee various contests and demonstrations, including an edible car contest (yes, a car made out of food items), the spaghetti-gumdrop tower, and the egg-drop contest, where students design a container holding an egg that will prevent it from breaking after a drop from a height of several stories.


Another contest, organized by the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers-UK Chapter, requires students to construct a mailer for a single Pringles potato chip. The winner will be the lightest-weight mailer that enables the chip to arrive intact after being sent through the U.S. Postal Service.


"What's great about this contest is that kids have to consider so many variables in their designs, from the weight and strength of packaging material and the chip itself, to the uncertainties of how it will be handled in the mail, just like engineers would have to do in their own project designs," said Rachel Adams, a civil engineering junior from Versailles. "This contest encourages kids to literally think 'outside of the box' when it comes to their packaging design. From judging the contest in the past I've seen so many unique materials and shapes, I'm always thrilled to open the next package to see what the kids have thought up."


Adams began coming to E-Day with her father at a young age. She says the experience ultimately played an important part in her decision to pursue engineering.


"I remember being so excited for all the activities and exhibits," Adams said. "I loved how fun everything was, and how I could begin to see science and engineering applied in everyday life. Many years later, when it came time to pick a major and a college, I came back to UK and talked to students about their projects they had on display. Seeing the creativity the students exhibited in their designs, and the creativity of the college to host E-Day and allow their students such hands-on experiences really left an impact on me."


The edible car contest, organized by the Society of Women Engineers-UK chapter, requires children to understand some very basic engineering concepts, says Samuel Meffert, a mechanical engineering junior and vice president of the society. But once again, creativity is a key component of success.


"It's primarily intended for young ages," he said. "As an engineering problem, the skills it involves are critical thinking and a little bit of structural analysis. But what it really comes down to is creative problem solving. You’re never going to have a real-world problem involving spaghetti axles and Oreo wheels. This competition challenges kids to think creatively in order to build a car made out of food."


A complete listing of the contests, with links to descriptions and entry requirements, is available at  In addition to the contests, this year's E-Day includes interactive exhibits and demonstrations by more than 150 exhibitors. A full schedule of the day's events is available for download as a PDF.


E-Day is a celebration of everything engineering has to offer, whether it's building bridges, discovering new medications, or writing the software that makes smart phones smarter, engineers and computer scientists do the things that make the 21st-century world work. E-Day is intended to inspire students to investigate and get excited about engineering — as an academic discipline, as a career field, and as a way of looking at the world.


"In the technology-driven and rapidly changing world we live in today, an engineering or computer science degree has never been more valuable," said John Y. Walz, dean of the college. "We hope outreach events like E-Day inspire kids to think about engineering as a viable career for themselves."


Over the years, the event has drawn thousands of children and their parents to UK's campus, encouraging girls and boys in elementary, middle and high school to consider pursuing degrees in engineering. The day will provide many opportunities for students including hands-on events, laboratory tours and door prizes.


For high school students interested in attending the UK College of Engineering, student recruiters will be on hand in Room 323 of the Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Systems (CRMS) building. The first of two Q&A sessions will take place at 9 a.m., followed by a formal presentation at 10 and a tour of the Engineering residence hall at 11. A second Q&A session will be held at noon.


For more information about UK Engineers Day, visit, or contact Chelsea Hansing at (859) 257-5823 or e-mail  For parking directions, visit



MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, (859) 323-2396;

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