Students and faculty come together to educate during Engineering Open House

4/15/2024 Phillip Kisubika

Written by Phillip Kisubika

Students and faculty come together to educate during Engineering Open House

At Engineering Open House this year, NPRE was represented by the efforts of the University of Illinois’ chapters of the American Nuclear Society and Women in Nuclear. The two student organizations had a total of seven different exhibits: DC Glow, Fusor, Mousetrap Reactor, Model Nuclear Reactor, Model Pet Scan, Cloud Chamber, and the radiation table.

DC Glow, an up-close demonstration of plasma being created and manipulated using electric fields and permanent magnets, was awarded second place for Outstanding RSO Exhibit.

“Many people helped prepare for EOH this year through ANS's Underclassmen Round Table to grow in their technical application abilities,” said Piper Fernau, who serves as the WIN chapter’s content chair. “The volunteers at EOH were hopeful of introducing visitors to the benefits of nuclear power as well as the other applications of nuclear engineering. We were hopeful to excite young visitors with our exhibits and inspire them to pursue the field of engineering.”

NPRE grad student Stephen Armstrong said, “I ran the fusor and DC Glow at the ANS exhibit. The fusor is a new plasma chamber made by freshmen this year. I took part because I love sharing my passion for plasma and fusion. I hope the attendees learned a little about how plasmas are used in daily life.”

The students had some help with the exhibits. NPRE lecturer Dr. William Roy presented the Cloud Chamber Exhibit in his office. The exhibit contained thorium-242, a naturally occurring radionuclide that emits alpha particles, and its overall theme was to show and talk about sources of background radioactivity that we live with every day.

“People tend to fear anything ‘radioactive,’ which is a potential barrier to nuclear energy.” Roy said. “We noticed some people moved away from the chamber when we said that there was something radioactive inside. We wanted to reduce that anxiety by showing that alpha radiation can be shielded by one’s skin. We went on to say that Illinois is number one in terms of using nuclear energy.”

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This story was published April 15, 2024.