Building the Future

Program description: Building the Future is an outreach activity of the Iowa Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi – The Engineering Honor Society. The event brings middle school students and their teachers to the ISU campus to experience hands-on engineering. Activities are based around the scenario of a tornado hitting a small town and what engineers can do to help. Following a general session at the beginning of the day, the students will undertake 4 different activities all specially designed to introduce them to various types of engineering:

(i) the students will visit the Iowa State University Tornado Simulator to obseve a scale model tornado that resembles what occurs in nature,

(ii) using popsicle sticks and brass fasteners, they build a bridge to replace one destroyed in the tornado that allows an ambulance to cross a ravine,


(iii) using popsicle sticks, plastic spoons and other materials they build a wind energy generator to provide power for the emergency efforts


(iv) using groundwater models they investigate how chemical spills or other pollution might affect the ground water and water supply for the town.

The day concludes with a general session about what they learned that engineers do.


Activities:  Groups of students rotate between the 4 activities, each of which lasts about 45 minutes.

Lunch – two pieces of pizza and a drink are provided to participants at a cost of $3.00 per person.

Event date/time: The 2017 Building the Future event will be held on on Thursday, 16 November 2017 from about 9:15 am to 1:30 pm.

Following is a flyer describing the 2017 Building the Future event (pdf)

Location: Activities will take place in Sukup Hall Atrium and rooms 1215 and 3223 and Howe Hall – room 1380.

Parent Permission Agreement: To participate in Building the Future the following agreement needs to be completed and signed by the student’s parent/guardian and brought to event (pdf)

For more information contact LeVern Faidley, Iowa Alpha Chief Advisor, at or the Iowa Alpha Project Officers by sending an e-mail to: