Tuesday, November 13, 2007

STEM Prospectors: Find GOLD!

Thousands of middle and high school students packed Ford Field Thursday for the 2007 YES Expo.

The Expo -- the YES stands for youth, engineering and science -- is a collaboration led by Michigan Technological University among state agencies, corporations, youth organizations, professional societies, business development groups and other universities from throughout Michigan. It offers a hands-on educational experience with the goal of inspiring students to pursue education and careers in the science and engineering fields.

Headline speakers included Dr. Steven Squyres, a Cornell University astronomy professor whose repeated project applications to NASA turned into the wildly successful Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Squyres told the students he was once intimidated by math. Now he drives $900 million remote-control cars around Mars. He showed the students near-live pictures from the Martian surface, where one rover was busily digging into rock.

The event also featured a robotics demonstration from Toyota, which believe it or not has built a robot that can play the trumpet. (Not bad, but no threat to the mastery of Miles Davis just yet.)

While the major presentations took place on the Ford Field turf, the entire lower concourse was ringed by corporate and university exhibits. Included were major displays from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Faurecia (whose exploding airbag was by far the LOUDEST exhibit), the Michigan Department of Transportation, Chrysler LLC, Caterpillar, 3M, Kellogg, Radio Shack, Stryker Corp., Yazaki, Pulte Homes and Dow Chemical.

Michigan Tech, as founder and the lead university behind the event, had by far the largest number of university exhibits, featuring everything from a hovercraft to a polygraph to live satellite mapping.

Photo highlights are available at http://www.yes.mtu.edu/gallery/2007_pictures.php#.

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