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Great Lakes Article:

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 in June.

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,” Miller said.

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.

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