Building the Future

The Building the Future outreach event was was last held 14 November 2019 and no decision has as yet been taken when it will return.

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 undertake 4 different activities all specially designed to introduce them to various types of engineering:

(i) The students visit 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 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.


Number of Participants: Due to space restrictions participation is generally  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 are provided to participants.  Participants are also free to bring their own lunch.

Event date/time: The Building the Future event generally takes place in November with activities beginning about 9:00 am and concluding about 1:30 pm.

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

Location: Activities take 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 parental agreement has 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: