Beckman Open House Set for March 11-12, 2011

Visitors to Beckman Institute Open House 2009 get a firsthand look at the Visualization Laboratory.
Visitors to Beckman Institute Open House 2009 get a firsthand look at the Visualization Laboratory.

Beckman Institute Open House 2011 will be held in conjunction with Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois, and will be a two-day event, March 11-12. Every Beckman Open House features new exhibitions highlighting some of the research taking place at the Institute, but the 2011 edition will have some popular exhibits in new locations and some exciting new additions for visitors to consider.

Beckman Institute Open House 2011 will, as in past years, be held in conjunction with Engineering Open House at the University of Illinois, and will be a two-day event, March 11-12.

Every Beckman Open House features new exhibitions highlighting some of the research taking place at the Institute, but the 2011 edition will have some popular exhibits in new locations and some exciting new additions for visitors to consider.

One such new entry slated to join the fun in 2011 is Bert, the iCub humanoid robot from Steve Levinson’s Language Acquisition and Robotics group. The lab took possession of the iCub earlier this year and Levinson says they will be ready to roll the rare (only one in the western Hemisphere) advanced robot out to wow Open House crowds in March.

This year’s Open House geography will have a little different look. The atrium and group labs will still play host to most of the exhibits but one change is a result of the Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) and the Illinois Simulator Laboratory (ISL) swapping locations last year. BIC’s equipment was relocated to the Beckman Institute building, while ISL was moved down to the south campus in BIC’s former building.

For the 2011 Open House, ISL will bring its always popular virtual reality environments north to room 1005 of the Institute.

The Biomedical Imaging Center relies on mock magnets to acquaint test subjects with the experience of being in a magnetic resonance imaging machine. For past Open House events, BIC created a mock magnet in the Beckman atrium, but with mock magnets already in place on Beckman’s first floor, the exhibit can highlight BIC research in its natural home.

The Beckman Institute Open House is a biennial event. The 2009 Open House featured more than 30 exhibits showcasing the research work that takes place at Beckman, including fun and interesting research topics such as brain-computer interface, robots learning grammar, and a the process of photosynthesis, as rendered through 3-D computer simulations. Open House visitors donned goggles to simulate alcohol intoxication and tried to shoot baskets, spelled out sentences using only their brainwaves, and took the helm of an electron scanning microscope.

The Beckman Institute Open House always draws thousands of visitors and the 2011 event may just outshine those of the past. Information on the Beckman Institute Open House will be posted to www.beckman.illinois.edu in early January.

This article is part of the Winter 2011 Synergy Issue, a publication of the Communications Office of the Beckman Institute.