Building the Future

The 2019 Building the Future outreach event was held 14 November 2019

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 visited the Iowa State University Wind Tunnels to observe the effect of high winds and tornados on buildings.

(ii) Using popsicle sticks and brass fasteners, they built 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 built a wind energy generator to provide power for the emergency efforts.


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

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


Number of Participants: Due to space restrictions this year participation was limited to approximately 50 middle school students.

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

Lunch: two pieces of pizza and a drink was provided to participants.  Participants were also free to bring their own lunch.

Event date/time: The 2019 Building the Future event was held on Thursday, 14 November 2019 from  9:00 am to about 1:30 pm.

Following is a flyer describing the 2019 Building the Future event (pdf)

Location: Activities took place in the Sukup Hall Atrium and room 1215, and Howe Hall Atrium and room 1380.

Parent Permission Agreement: To participate in Building the Future the following agreement had 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: