Lawmakers awed by student work
By Benjamin Ray
Central Michigan Life
Published April 13, 2005
LANSING — The future of science met politics in the State
Capitol Rotunda Tuesday.
There were 39 science majors who showcased their work
at the fifth annual Posters at the Capitol. The event
gave the students an opportunity to explain their research
to Michigan lawmakers and CMU alumni.
Students represented every department in the College
of Science and Technology, and the projects were diverse.
Many people flocked to a robot that could climb stairs,
though the fuel-efficient vehicle designed by Society
of Automotive Engineers students also drew a crowd.
It took 16 students almost 12 weeks to design and build
the 7.5-foot vehicle, which is made of aluminum and shrink-wrap
similar to the kind used on boats. One student will drive
the vehicle in a “race” in the annual Supermileage competition
Waterford senior Steve Miller said while last year’s
vehicle got a measly 342 miles to the gallon, he hopes
this year’s design will get around 700.
“A lot of people don’t know CMU does something like this,”
Sen. Mike Goschka, R-Brant, was one of the many lawmakers
in attendance. Although he did not stay long, Goschka
stopped at some of the projects and said they awed him.
“This shows the funding that we give for higher education
is worth it,” he said. “These (students) are the people
who are going to take us into the 21st century.”
One such exhibit involved measuring the level of contaminants
in the Great Lakes.
Tom Rohrer, director of the Environmental Studies Program,
and Dearborn Heights senior Kathleen Fairchild found that
mercury levels are up in Lake Michigan, which can be harmful
to those who eat fish out of the lake.
However, it is difficult to ban mercury emissions because
the element is released from power plants, and Rohrer
said lawmakers are unlikely to regulate the energy industry.
Other exhibits involved the benefits of building a commercial
airport in Mount Pleasant, the effects of El Niño
on Michigan weather and the question of whether or not
Martians would bathe in acid or water.
Battle Creek senior Nichole Salinas researched a different
way to administer drugs to cancer patients. She said some
chemotherapy methods can actually cause cancer in other
areas of the body; her exhibit involved targeting the
drug to the site of the tumor via magnetism.
“More people should be aware there are research opportunities
in every department,” she said. “It ties in everything
you know from class.”
Halfway through the presentations, University President
Michael Rao spoke to the students, legislators and alumni
in attendance and praised them for supporting and/or working
with cutting-edge research.
“This outstanding work shows great optimism for the future
of Michigan,” he said.