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David Olivares (Left), Eddie Fernandez, Cole Seeley and Ryan Seeley, Future of Human Enhancement team members represent for the Human Machine Integration Lab. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
Speeding through Wells Fargo Arena in a jet pack and testing mental and physical agility in a Rube Goldberg-style challenge were two of the most popular interactive attractions at the ASU Emerge 2016 festival – and both came from engineering labs at the Polytechnic School.
Professor Tom Sugar and Associate Professor Sangram Redkar and their students exhibited innovations from the Human Machine Integration Lab, including the Pogo Suit, which is designed to diminish the physical toll of a backpack weighing up to 70 lbs., and the Spider Man Suit, which uses a vacuum pump and soft foam material cups to create a near air-tight seal between the device and a wall, allowing the user to scale just about any surface. Guests of the event were able to go for a jog across the Arena wearing a Jet Pack, a device designed to enable soldiers to run a four-minute mile. Small children tried on the suit without activating the power module, but felt they were able to run faster, nonetheless.
The Rube Goldberg-inspired Escape Challenge Room was born during a collaborative effort between ASU athletes and students in the National Science Foundation’s Broadening the Reach of Engineering through Community Engagement (BRECE) Scholars Program. A two-day brainstorming workshop at the STEAM Labs at The Polytechnic School led to the innovative attraction, according to Assistant Professor Shawn Jordan, who noted that some of the athletes were also engineers.
“Initially, the students discussed what types of activities would lend themselves to an escape challenge,” Jordan explained. “When it was decided that each wall of the escape room should have a different project, the group broke up into teams to work out the details and build mini models.” The end result was a large, self-contained room inside the arena and a 10-minute escape challenge.
Jordan and some of the originating students were able to attend Emerge after the Polytechnic School’s Innovation Showcase, which was held on the same day. “It was exciting to see how different groups approached the challenge,” he said. “Some of teams would divide up and each take a wall, while others would approach each problem together.”
The activities overall served to get families with children excited about engineering. Even the “cheats,” as Jordan referred to the child-level peepholes in the Escape Room, got participants engaged in problem-solving thinking.
Super Cyborgs: The Future of Human Enhancement, presented by The Polytechnic School’s Human Machine Integration Lab
Assistant Professor Sangram Redkar (left), Eddie Fernandez, Cole Seeley, Ryan Seeley and David Olivares show off the Pogo Suit, designed to lighten a backpack’s load by keeping it balanced. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
David Olivares demonstrates the Cooling Suit, designed to keep U.S. Air Force pilots cool in the cockpit. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
Assistant Professor Sangram Redkar with daughters Veena (age 8) and Rucha (age 4), Professor Joel Garneau (wearing a jetpack), Founding Director of the Emerge Center, and Professor Tom Sugar had almost as much fun as the guests when demonstrating the Super Cyborg Suits. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
The Future of Games: Rube Goldberg-style Escape Challenge Room, presented by The Polytechnic School’s STEAM Labs
The Rube Goldberg-style Escape Challenge Room, designed by a team of ASU athletes and Polytechnic School STEAM Labs students, was a major attraction at Emerge 2016. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
Members of ASU’s 942 Crew, a Sun Devil Athletics Booster Club, team up to face the Escape Challenge Room during Emerge 2016. From left: Alex Linse, Kyle Bathe and Joey Palomarez. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
Kyle Bathe, a member of Sun Devil Booster Club 942 Crew, is amused by Joey Palomarez and Natalie McKee’s attempts to beat the Challenge Room’s puzzles. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU
942 Crew Booster Club member Alex Linse evaluates his Escape Challenge options. Linse and his team beat the 10-minute time limit. Photographer: Mihir Bhatt/ASU