TouchTomorrow

June 9, 2018 10AM - 4PM
at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Rain or Shine!
Free and open
to the public.

WPI Research Exhibits

Check back often for updates to this year’s schedule!

Updated May 26, 2018

Download the 2018 event map to plan your day!

WPI Research Exhibits, Tours, and Activities

Please note that some activities occur at scheduled times and some will require sign-up on festival day, as there will be limited seating. If sign-ups are required it will be noted in the activity description and under “Categories.”

 

GATEWAY PARK

Fire Protection Engineering Lab Tour
Location:  Gateway Park, 50 Prescott Street
Categories:  Engineering, Science, Sign-up Required
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Albert Simeoni/Ray Ranellone

Description: WPI’s Department of Fire Protection Engineering, one of the leading graduate programs in in the United States, features a state-of-the-art fire research laboratory. The FPE Fire Science Laboratory has testing capabilities ranging from bench-scale all the way up to two-story residential structures in the large-scale lab. Find out how fire research is undertaken at WPI, watch fire demonstrations, and learn about fire dynamics and behavior.

Each session is limited to 25 people.  Sign ups are required.

Scheduled show Times:  Tours start at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.

 

Tour WPI’s Biomedical Engineering Laboratories
Location:  Gateway Park, 60 Prescott Street
Categories:  Engineering, Science
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Glenn Gaudette

Description: Learn about WPI’s cutting-edge research in biomedical engineering as you tour six laboratories in WPI’s Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center. You’ll learn ◊ how engineers are using spinach leaves, with their built-in vasculature, as scaffolds to grow engineered tissue to repair damaged hearts ◊ how mechanical forces affect soft tissues, helping them stay healthy or promoting the onset of disease, such as disease of the heart valves ◊ how engineers unravel silk cocoons to develop tissue engineering and drug delivery strategies to treat diseases ◊ about the design of biomaterials and implantable scaffolds that will help to regenerate tissue and organs, such as cardiac and skeletal muscle or tissue engineered skin ◊ about how researchers are to designing, fabricating, culturing and analyzing cell-based engineered vascular tissue ◊ how engineers are using neuroimaging and computer models to better predict traumatic brain injury, knowledge that could lead to better diagnostic tools for football players and other contact sports participants.

 

Surgical and Assistive Robotics
Location:  Gateway Park, 85 Prescott Street
Categories:  Robotics, Interactive, Technology
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Greg Fischer

Description: Tour the Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Lab and learn about research on surgical robots that are designed to work inside MRI scanners, try out the Da Vinci surgical robotics system, learn about an assistive device that helps stroke victims regain use of their arms and hands, and see a robotic penguin that can be used in therapy for children with autism.

 

Swarming Robots
Location:  Gateway Park, 85 Prescott Street
Categories:  Robotics, Technology
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Carlo Pinciroli

Description: Everyone has seem swarms of bees, ants, or birds moving about like a single creature. But did you know that robots can swarm, too? Coordinated swarms of small robots may one day help in search-and-rescue missions, planetary or underwater exploration, or even de-mining war zones. Inspired by nature, Carlo Pinciroli leads a research team that is trying to give robot swarms a sort of collective intelligence, so they can sense their environment, communicate, and work together efficiently and safely. Come see his swarms in action.

Scheduled  Times:  There will be 45-minute demonstrations at 11, 1, and 3.

 

Self-Driving 1/10-scale Race Car
Location:  Gateway Park, 85 Prescott Street
Categories:  Robotics, Engineering
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Jie Fu

Description: In the Collective Intelligence and Bionic Robotics (CIBR) Laboratory, learn about control and robotics technology that supports safe and autonomous driving. Explore perception, planning, and control as you observe experiments with a 1/10-scale self-driving race car that interacts with other mobile agents.

Scheduled Times:  There will be 45-minute demonstrations at 11, 1, and 3.

 

Control Nursing Robot through Motion Capture System
Location:  Gateway Park, 85 Prescott Street
Categories:  Robotics
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Zhi (Jane) Li

Description: Engineers are developing new ways to let people and robots work together, including teleoperation technology that allows operators to control robots at a distance. In this lab, see how a motion capture system can be used to record the motion of the whole body for use in controlling a robot’s movement. Then meet our robot Nurse, Trina, a tele-operated robot that can learn from human demonstration.

Scheduled Times:  There will be 45-minute demonstrations at 11, 1, and 3.

 

Halt!  Who Goes There!
Location:  Gateway Park, North Surface Parking Lot
Categories:  Robotics
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Marissa Bennett

Description: The U.S. Air Force issued a challenge to student robotics engineers across the country: how can it quickly and efficiently investigate possible intrusions on unmanned bases. A team of undergraduates at WPI answered the challenge with Cerberus, an autonomous robot built on the platform of an all-terrain wheelchair. It uses cameras and sensors to detect a disturbance and then navigate to the site to investigate. Watch this amazing robot in action.

Scheduled Times:  11:00 am – 1:00 pm

 

ATWATER KENT 

3-D Magic of Biomolecules
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Chemistry, Science
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Arne Gericke

Description: Using 3-D graphics, this 45-minute presentation shows how the structure of biomolecules affects the functions they perform in our cells and the roles they play in disease formation.

Scheduled Times:  The activity will be offered at 12 and 3.

 

Secrets and Security: Learn About Encryption and Home Network Safety
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Technology
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Craig Shue

Description: In this exhibit, two related activity will alternate. The first activity will focus on the risks we face when our home computer networks are not secure, and on research at WPI aimed at creating a simple and robust way of taking the job of securing our networks out of our hands and putting it in the hands of “experts” in the cloud.

The second activity will introduce young visitors to encryption, the tool we can use to keep our online communications safe from prying eyes. Encryption involves using a code, or key, to “scramble” a message so it can only be “unlocked” and read by someone else who also has the key. Participants will learn about sending messages, how they can be altered by others, and how to protect those messages.

Scheduled Times:  Activities for younger audiences at 10:30, 1, and 2:30; presentations for adults at 11:30, 2, and 3:30.

 

Robots Making Robots
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Robotics, Technology
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Kevin Harrington

Description: See the labs were WPI students learn the fundamentals of robotics engineering. The theme of this year’s open house is “Robots Making Robots.” Watch 3D printers make robot arms and learn about the basics of robotics through a variety of interactive demos.

 

Unusual Interfaces and 3D Explorations
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Game Development, Technology
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Jeffrey Kesselman

Description: Game designers and interactive media developers enjoy developing new ways to let people control computers and play games. Professor Jeffrey Kesselman in WPI’s Interactive Media and Game Development Program teaches students to do just that, designing and building what he calls “unusual interfaces for unusual purposes.” Come see some of these in action, and also try out immersive 3D virtual reality experiences developed by students in another course that Professor Kesselman teaches, including a game based on Chinese mythology and world-building game.

 

Real-World Mathematics
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Burt Tilley/ Stephan Sturm

Description: Watch a series of videos produced by WPI mathematics professor Suzanne Weekes that explore how mathematicians solve problems in the real world—from making better animated films to improving pollution treatment. The videos were produced for the Mathematical Association of America and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics with support from the National Science Foundation.

 

Explore Ciphers and Codes
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Burt Tilley/ Stephan Sturm

Description: Learn how people have used ciphers and codes throughout history to keep their communications secret, and then build your own cipher wheel and use it to write a secret message for a friend.

 

Can You Solve the Monty Hall Problem?
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Burt Tilley/ Stephan Sturm

Description: Imagine you’re a contestant on “Let’s Make a Deal” and you know a valuable prize lies behind Door No. 1, Door No. 2, or Door No. 3. You choose Door No. 1 and the host shows you that the prize is not behind Door No. 3. Do you change your mind and go for Door No. 2. There is a mathematical strategy for making that choice. Learn about the Monty Hall Problem and see how mathematicians can use a computer simulation to prove that there is a right way to decide.

Scheduled Times:  Show at 10, 10:30, 11, 1, 1:30, and 2.

 

Designing Tomorrow’s Materials
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Science
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Yu Zhong

Description: To build the advanced products of the future, engineers will need to turn to new materials with unique properties that exactly match their needs. Finding those materials now can be a trial-and-error process that costs time and money. Yu Zhong in WPI’s Materials Science and Engineering Program is developing new integrated approaches to computer modelling that can make accurate predictions about material properties that can dramatically cut the time and cost of development. Learn about this research and see examples of how it can be used by industry.

 

The Unconventional World of Soft Robotics
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Engineering, Robotics, Technology
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Cagdas Onal

Description: Flexible, deformable robots may one day soon play a role in robotic surgery and surgery training, search-and-rescue missions, teleoperation, and human augmentation. Learn about this exciting new area of robotics engineering and see soft robots and actuators developed in the laboratory of Professor Cagdas Onal in action.

 

Underwater Search and Rescue Robot
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Robotics
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Mike Ciaraldi

Description: The Aquatic Robotic Recovery Craft (ARRC) is a submersible robot developed by an undergraduate project team at WPI. It is designed to aid firefighters in searching for victims underwater or under the ice.

 

Harvesting an Invader
Location:  Atwater Kent Laboratories
Categories:  Robotics
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  William Godsey

Description: Known for their venomous spines, lionfish are native to the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. But over the past 30 years, they have become an invasive species in the Caribbean and along the Gulf Coast and the East Coast of the United States, where they threaten native species and have driven some to the point of near-extinction. Efforts to eradicate them by harvesting (they are edible) have so far been unsuccessful. A team of WPI undergraduates believes the solution might be a fleet of autonomous submersible robots that can patrol coastal waters spearing and collecting the fish. Come see the harvesting system they developed as their Major Qualifying Project as a first step toward that ultimate goal and learn about the engineering behind it.

 

DISCOVERY CROSSING 

The Energy Boom
Location:  Discovery Crossing
Categories:  Engineering, Technology
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  L. Lozeau, A. Maag, A. Brown

Description: Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction that combines hydrogen and oxygen. The only “waste product” is water. Chemical engineers at WPI are conducting research aimed at making these fuel cells more efficient as an alternative and renewable source of power. Learn about fuel cells from members of WPI’s Chemical Engineering Graduate Organization and watch an “explosive and electrifying” demonstration that shows what happens when hydrogen and oxygen come together in the presence of a platinum catalyst. **  Demos every half hour between 10 and 4 (NOTE: demonstration includes one loud bang.)

Scheduled Times:  Demonstrations every half hour 10:00 – 4:00

 

Make a Splash!
Location:  Discovery Crossing
Categories:  Engineering, Science,Technology
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Paul Mathisen

Description: Learn about buoyancy by building a boat from LEGOs and finding out what makes it float, or sink. See how many times you can toss a water balloon before it breaks

 

Physics in Motion
Location:  Discovery Crossing
Categories:  Science, Physics
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Doug Petkie

Description: Learn about centrifugal force, angular momentum, electromagnetic forces (eddy currents, superconductor levitation, etc.), and other physical phenomena through a variety of fun, hands-on demonstrations.

 

WPI’s Tall, Dark, and Humanoid Robot
Location:  Discovery Crossing
Categories:  Robotics
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Mike Gennert

Description: Meet WARNER (WPI’s Atlas Robot for Nonconventional Emergency Response) , the amazing six-foot, 4-inch, 353-pound humanoid robot who was WPI’s entry in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, a national contest aimed at demonstrating the ability of next-generation humanoid robots to respond to natural and man-made disasters that present too great a risk for human responders. WARNER, who continues to be a platform for cutting-edge research at WPI, will be happy to have his photo taken with you.

 

Bio-Inspired Robots, Advanced Prosthesis, Braces, and Exoskeletons
Location:  Discovery Crossing
Categories:  Robotics, Science
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Marko Popovic

Description: Students from the lab of WPI Professor Marko Popovic (WPI Popovic Labs) will demonstrate a biomimetic humanoid walking robot, a biomimetic robotic hand that can be controlled with your mind, a Control Moment Gyro balance/shoulder prosthesis, a Hydro Muscle hand brace, a hydro-muscle-activated leg that can kick a soccer ball, a robo-dog, an exoskeleton with hydro-muscles and bones, and more bio-inspired robotic technology.

 

FULLER LABORATORIES

Find! Scan! Learn! The TouchTomorrow Smartphone Scavenger Hunt
Location:  Fuller Laboratories
Categories:  Game Development
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Dean O’Donnell

Description: There is much to learn at TouchTomorrow. To help you track down interesting and fun facts, we’ve devised a scavenger hunt you can play with your smartphone. Start your quest at our Ortientation Station, where you’ll learn about Near-Field Communication, the technology behind our game. Then, pick up your instructions and a “question sheet” and head out look for scannable answers located throughout the festival.

 

Watch Student-Directed Animations and Game Trailers
Location:  Fuller Laboratories
Categories:  Game Development
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Ralph Sutter

Description: Sit back and relax while you watch animations and computer game trailers produced by students in WPI’s Interactive Media and Game Development Program.

 

Play Student-Designed Videogames and Create Digital Art
Location:  Fuller Laboratories
Categories:  Game Development, Technology
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Ralph Sutter

Description: WPI developed one of the nation’s earliest undergraduate programs in computer game development and interactive media and now also offers graduate degree programs in the field. WPI’s programs are distinctive in encouraging students to focus on either the artistic or technical aspects of games and digital media. Here you will see how art and technology come together in the form of games built by our students, which you can actually play. You will also have the chance create your own digital art using the same state-of-the-art tools our students use.

 

GODDARD HALL

Bio in the World Around Us
Location:  Goddard Hall
Categories:  Biotechnology, Science
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Joe Duffy

Description: The Biological world is all around us, from DNA to proteins and molecules to microbes. Learn about how they impact us through a variety of activities. Seeing what DNA looks like by extracting a sample from fruit, learn about chromosomes by taking the karyotype challenge, test your knowledge of biotechnology in every day life, and learn about synthetic biology with scented bacteria and a gallery of glowing bacterial art.

 

Experience Biochemistry: Glowing Reactions
Location:  Goddard Hall
Categories:  Chemistry, Science, Sign-up Required
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Arne Gericke

Description: In this 45-minute interactive lab activity you will learn about fast enzymatic reactions, catalysts, and bioluminescence as you work with luciferin, ATP, and luciferase to create the light-generating reaction that makes fireflies glow.

Each session is limited to 15 people.  Sign ups are required.

Scheduled  Times:  The activity will be offered at 11, 12, 1, 2 and 3.

 

Hands-on Biomedical Engineering
Location:  Goddard Hall
Categories:  Engineering
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Kris Billiar

Description: Find out how biomedical engineers use their problem-solving skills to solve real-world medical challenges. Through hands-on activities, you’ll learn how your heart and circulatory system work and build a model of a heart valve. You’ll also get to try your hand at fixing the heart in our surgery simulator, and learn how researchers at WPI are using their work to impact the world.

 

Fun with Chemistry
Location:  Goddard Hall
Categories:  Chemistry, Science
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Arne Gericke

Description: Learn about chemicals combine and interact to shape the world around us through these hands-on activities:  Play with Magnetic Slime • Do Chemistry with Light • Make Light with Chemistry • Explore Hot and Cold Packs

 

Experience Chemistry: Make a Raspberry-Flavored Solar Cell
Location:  Goddard Hall
Categories:  Chemistry, Science, Sign-up Required
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Arne Gericke

Description: In this 45-minute interactive lab activity you will build a raspberry-flavored solar cell (a dye-sensitized photovoltaic cell that uses raspberry juice and titanium dioxide).

Each session is limited to 15 people.  Sign ups are required.

Scheduled Times:  The activity will be offered at 11, 12, 1, 2 and 3.

 

HIGGINS LABORATORIES

Keeping Things Cool in Space
Location:  Higgins Laboratories
Categories:  Engineering
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Jamal Yagoobi

Description: WPI Professor Jamal Yagoobi and his students will provide guided tours of the Multi-Scale Heat Transfer Lab, featuring NASA-funded research on two-phase heat transport systems that the lab is developing and testing for cooling satellites and spacecraft. An experiment demonstrating the new technology has been undergoing a long-term test on the International Space Station. Another major experiment will fly to the station in 2021.

 

OLIN HALL

A Virtual Tour of the Universe
Location:  Olin Hall
Categories:  Science
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Germano Iannacchione

Description: Ride along on a 40-minute journey from the Earth to the edges of the known universe in a show that employs computer graphics and NASA images.

Scheduled Times:  Shows for all ages at 10, 1, and 3. Shows for younger audiences at 11 and 2.

 

QUADRANGLE

Mining Mars
Location:  Quadrangle
Categories:  Engineering, Robotics, Science
Ages:  Grade 3 and up
Organizer:  Mike Ciaraldi

Description: Fresh from competing at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center, Ibex: The Robotic Mining Platform will be on display. Designed by a team of WPI students, the robot is a prototype of a machine that may one day collect soil and ice samples on Mars to help establish and sustain a manned habitat.

 

RUBIN CAMPUS CENTER

Building Tomorrow
Location:  Rubin Campus Center
Categories:  Engineering
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Cindy Bergeron

Description: Learn about a zero-net-energy house WPI students designed for the Solar Decathlon. See how tall buildings react to earthquakes. Manipulate the landscape with the augmented-reality sandbox, and learn about how the landscape can affect the water in our ponds and streams.  Build spaghetti bridges and test them for structural stability. Learn about bio-inspired materials, the importance of sustainability and energy efficiency, and more in this showcase for civil, environmental, and architectural engineering.

 

ASSISTments: Improving Learning Through Scientific Reseach
Location:  Rubin Campus Center
Categories:  Math, Science, Technology
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Cristina Heffernan

Description: Learn about and try out ASSISTments, a nationally recognized free platform to improve student learning. Demonstrated at the White House in 2016. The system supports teachers, gives immediate feedback to students, and provides teachers with the data they need.

 

SALISBURY LABORATORIES

The Choice is Yours
Location:  Salisbury Laboratories
Categories:
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Alexander Smith

Description: In WPI’s Experimental Economics Laboratory, Professor Alexander Smith studies the way we make decisions about financial and economic issues. One of his goals is to understand the factors that underlie what he calls “pro-social behaviors,” such as volunteering and charitable giving. In essence, he says, his goal is to learn how we can make the world a better place. Smith conducts his research using computerized experiments in which subjects are presented with various scenarios and asked to make choices. In this presentation, you will learn more about this area of applied economics research and then take part in a few brief experiments.

Each session is limited to 12 people.  Sign ups are required.

Scheduled Times:  The 45-minute program will be start at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1, 2, and 3 p.m.

 

Graspable Math
Location:  Salisbury Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Erin Ottmar

Description: One of the obstacles to learning mathematics is becoming comfotable with algebraic notation. Professor Erin Ottmar taps into our natural abilities to manipulate objects to develop innovative teaching tools that make math intuitive and fun.

 

MathSpring Demo
Location:  Salisbury Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  Grade 6 and up
Organizer:  Ivon Arroyo

Description: MathSpring is an adaptive, personalized intelligent tutoring system developed by scientists at WPI and the University of Massachusetts Amherst that automatically assess students’ math skills, affective states, and metacognitive states. It responds to students on the spot and reports strengths and weaknesses (for individual students and the whole class) in real time to the teacher as students are working on the computer. Come inside and learn more about the system from WPI Professor Ivon Arroyo and her students.

 

Play EstimateIT!
Location:  Salisbury Laboratories
Categories:  Math
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Ivon Arroyo

Description: The Wearables for Learning project at WPI is investigating mathematics learning in elementary and middle school via motion-packed games in which students are guided by electronic devices that act as “wearable tutors,” communicating cues that advance the games while helping students learn math concepts. EstimateIT! is one example. In the game, students use clues presented on a smartphone to search for objects that fit the specified criteria, equipped with only simple measuring tools.

 

SPORTS & RECREATION CENTER

Spark Your Imagination
Location:  Sports & Recreation Center
Categories:  Engineering, Technology
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Jim O’Rourke

Description: Jim O’Rourke will show off Sparky Junior, a small Van de Graaff generator, and perform a number of interactive demonstrations about electricity and electrostatics. It is sure to be a “hair-raising” experience. You can also try out some simple hands-on devices that demonstrate electromagnetism.

 

WASHBURN SHOPS

Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Location:  Washburn Shops
Categories:  Engineering, Technology
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Toby Bergstrom/ James Loiselle

Description: Visit the HAAS Technical Education Center to learn how CNC (computer-numerical control) machines and other advanced manufacturing technology (including robots, laser cutters, and 3-D printers) works, and see it all in action. You might even get to manufacture your own souvenir.

 

Living in Our Materials World
Location:  Washburn Shops
Categories:  Engineering, Science
Ages:  All Ages
Organizer:  Diana Lados

Description: Through interactive demonstrations using carrots, Play-Doh, toothpicks, gumdrops, balloons, bouncy balls, and liquid nitrogen, learn about crystal structures, atomic packing, and materials properties like ductility and brittleness, as well as the work of WPI’s materials science and engineering faculty and students.

Scheduled Times:  Demonstrations at 10:30, 11, and 11:30.