The University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) does many tours, demos and presentations to assist the UIC College of Engineering (COE) with its (MERRP) Minority Education, Recruitment and Retention Programs. EVL's Dr. Andrew Johnson typically hosts these visits, and gives visitors short presentations on EVL's significant research and contributions in visualization and virtual reality, followed by tours and hands-on demonstrations of the technologies themselves.
In the past few months, EVL outreach activities have included tours for computer-science undergraduates enrolled in the COE's Engineering 100 course, and two separate tours for students from Austin Polytechnic High School.
Engineering 100 is a general orientation class for undergraduates taught by Ms. Chris Kuypers, associate director of the COE Academic Resource Center. As part of the course, students are divided into groups according to their majors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) in those respective majors provide more specific information about coursework, careers and real-world applications.
Computer-science TA Phil Pilosi, who also works part-time at EVL through funds obtained from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, organized the "field trip" to EVL. Approximately 80 incoming computer-science majors visited EVL in two groups, on October 4 and 6, to learn about EVL's many advanced visualization research and development activities. "The overwhelming response was 'Wow'!", Pilosi said, "as they learned that computer science can be fun."
On June 18, 2010, and again on October 27, EVL hosted students from Chicago's Austin Polytechnic High School as part of the University of Illinois Affiliate "Project Lead The Way" (PLTW) program. These PLTW trips were organized by Dr. Vladimir Goncharoff of COE. The second visit was surely stimulated by the enthusiastic responses of students who came the first time. After that trip, their teacher Mel Slater sent email to Dr. Goncharoff saying, "...the effect of your tour on their imaginations and positive conception of UIC cannot be overstated."