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UMass Lowell Joins in Igniting Excitement in Science, Engineering

Capital Festival Included 8 UMass Lowell Booths

Plastics Engineering booth at festival

The Plastics Engineering Department had one of eight UMass Lowell booths at the USA Science & Engineering Festival held in Washington D.C. and attended by more than half a million people.

By Edwin L. Aguirre

UMass Lowell joined more than 550 leading science organizations and institutions across the country in the largest celebration of science and engineering in America: the USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF), which was held April 28 and 29 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.

“The event was a complete success,” says Prof. Robert Malloy, chair of the Plastics Engineering Department and a member of the 40-strong UMass Lowell contingent that participated in the festival.

“The University’s effort was well planned, well organized and went off without any major issues,” says Malloy. “I had initial concerns that the show attendance might be lower this year because the show was moved from the National Mall to the convention center, but I was wrong — the event was extremely well attended.”

According to USASEF organizers, nearly 200,000 people of all ages attended the two-day expo, with an additional 350,000 participating in satellite/affiliate events and programs across the country and beyond. 

The biennial event, which was free and open to the public, was jam-packed with more than 3,000 hands-on, interactive exhibits as well as more than 150 live shows and author presentations.

Science celebrities who performed included Bill Nye the Science Guy and Mayim Bialik from the TV show “The Big Bang Theory,” as well as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the hit TV series “MythBusters.” President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, also attended, along with senior leaders from other countries, including Prince Mohammed bin Abdullah al Saud from Saudi Arabia.

A new feature this year was a book fair and a career pavilion for high school students that included a college fair, a job fair and a meet-the-scientist/engineer networking area.

From Spiders to Baseball

UMass Lowell set up a total of eight booths at the convention center, manned by faculty and staff members, students and friends.

The exhibits included:

  • “Sharing and Visualizing Data with iSENSE” (from the Computer Science Department)
  • “Spineless Wonders and Silk Spinners: Presenting Invertebrates on Parade” (Biological Sciences Department)
  • “Physics: Where Nature and Technology Coalesce” (Physics and Applied Physics Department)
  • “Engineering in Baseball” (UMass Lowell Baseball Research Center)
  • “Service Through Engineering” (Service-Learning Program, Francis College of Engineering)
  • “I Have Just One Word for You ... Plastics” (Plastics Engineering Department)
  • “It’s a Nano World” (NSF Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing at UMass Lowell)
  • “Zoom In on Life in the Sea” (UMass School of Marine Sciences)

The USA Science & Engineering Festival was sponsored by aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin Corp., along with more than two dozen companies, foundations and organizations. For more information about the event, go to