U.Va. Engineering School to Host Open House on March 23

Prospective students and the public are invited to learn about how engineers make a difference in the world at the University of Virginia’s Engineering Open House, to be held March 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Thornton Hall – the home of U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. The event is free and open to the public and draws more than 1,000 prospective students and their families each spring.

From novel courses in which students learn engineering concepts by building off-road baby strollers, to labs where students create paper airplanes capable of flight, to conducting leading-edge research in alternative energy, transportation and health care, the Open House showcases what it means to be an engineer and how the work of engineers impacts the world.

The event allows visitors – prospective students, parents, educators and all others who are interested in engineering – to meet faculty and staff; talk to current students; tour buildings, labs and classrooms; and visit exhibits that highlight faculty and student research.

“Open House brings engineering to life for young students who are considering pursuing an education and career in the field,” James H. Aylor, dean of the Engineering School, said. “The opportunity for prospective students to interact with our current faculty and students and see the technology they are working with on a daily basis often proves to be a life-changing experience.”

At this year’s Open House, the public will have opportunities to explore creating fuels and chemicals from renewable biomass; harnessing information technology for safer, congestion-free travel; building wireless body-area sensor networks; testing advanced mechatronics, including 3-D printers capable of creating actual objects such as a wrench or a model of U.Va.’s Rotunda; and enhancing cyber-security.

The day’s activities also will include presentations by Aylor and former astronaut Kathy Thornton, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, on the “Sights and Sounds of Space Flight.” Larry G. Richards, also a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will speak about “Engineering Greats” – engineering professionals who have made significant contributions to the world in which we live. Additionally, Edward Berger, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and associate dean of undergraduate programs, along with a representative from the U.Va. Office of Admission will be available to answer questions about admission to the Engineering School.

Engineering students will be on hand to lead tours, including a tour of the Rice Hall Information Technology Engineering Building and the Rapid Prototyping Lab, among other engineering facilities and labs.

The Center for Diversity in Engineering will also host special programs and information sessions. Visitors can head to Thornton Hall to pick up a schedule or visit the Open House website at to download a schedule.  

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