Shattering Boundaries

May 27, 2004

Mindbend 2004 is not a typical research symposium. It's about shattering barriers and making the quot;fascinating world of engineering and technologyquot;accessible to everyone, says Shivprakash Iyer, a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering and the co-chair of the event. The idea is for all engineers— chemical, nuclear, electrical, and so on — to be able to explain their ideas to a general audience. For some, that can be a truly mind-bending experience.

The idea is for students to be able to communicate their research in
general terms, without all the technical jargon, quot;so that a person with a
general engineering background would be able to understand it,quot; says Iyer.

Twenty-one graduate and undergraduate students explained their work to
panels of engineering students and faculty during the two-day symposium
last April. Joshua Petko, a master's student in electrical engineering,
walked away with the top prize.

In 2003, the College of Engineering sponsored an event called Meeting of
the Minds, a precursor to Mindbend. quot;We came up with an engineering
problem and invited teams of students to solve it. The problem was
Homeland Security. We wanted the students to come up with ways —
engineering solutions — for the securing of State College against
attacks,quot; explains Iyer. quot;They had two weeks to come up with a solution.quot;A team of undergraduate and graduate students from industrial engineering took first place.

Iyer hopes that Mindbend will spread beyond the College of Engineering.
quot;We want to open it up to students in technical fields throughout the
university,quot; says Iyer. quot;Eventually, I'd like to see it become a
multi-University event, perhaps something that major research universities
all along the East Coast participate in.quot;

For more about Mindbend 2004, visit

Last Updated May 27, 2004