BYU mechanical engineering labs host Lab O’Ween

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Mechanical engineering students are invited to trick or treat at the open lab Halloween party Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 3–5 p.m. in the Crabtree.

“Closer to a party than businesses, but it is an engineering party … it’s different than other parties,” said Chris Mattson, a BYU engineering professor in charge of the Design Explorations Lab.

The Lab O’Ween is an annual event that allows students to explore each of the mechanical engineering research labs on campus and see if there is one they would be interested in joining.

Mattson said Lab O’Ween is mainly for undergraduates to become aware of research opportunities and break the ice with the different lab professors.

Many of the labs have produced award-winning research and cover anything from fluid flow to material research to designing carts that impoverished people can afford in third world countries.

esign Exploration Group's recent trip to Peru with a cart they designed that impoverished people can afford. Photo provided by Winston Behle.
Design Exploration Group’s recent trip to Peru with a cart they designed that impoverished people can afford. (Photo courtesy Winston Behle)

“In the lab, I am working on a case study for a human-powered well drill that was designed for villages in Africa,” said Dan Porter, a senior studying mechanical engineering at BYU.

Porter joined the Design Explorations Lab after attending Lab O’Ween last year.

“Students should go because they may find that BYU has a great lab with a spot for them to help contribute,” said Porter.

Kendall Thacker, also a BYU student studying engineering, works in the design explorations lab as well but on a different humanitarian project.

Thacker is working on creating clean cooking stoves that can be used in third world countries.

Currently, Thacker said the women in third world countries are cooking on open fires in the home and the smoke pollution is a serious health concern for the women and children.

Thacker and Porter both said they enjoy making a difference in the world as part of a mechanical engineering research lab.

“My favorite part is being creative in a systematic way to make the world more awesome,” Porter said. “I also like the group I work with and my adviser a lot. (My) least favorite (part) is that, because of my classes, I don’t have as much time as I would like to do more research.”

There are currently 15 mechanical engineering research labs including labs like the well-known MAGICC Lab and the BYU Racing Lab.

Students working with the research labs also have the opportunity to travel to places like India, Spain or Peru to create products that alleviate poverty.

During Lab O’Ween the labs are decorated, and professors invite students to come to each lab and see the work they do in a fun trick-or-treating atmosphere.

If a student wants to join a lab, they need to talk to one of the lab advisers and explain how they can contribute to that lab.

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