Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WPI Spark Party

From Briana Morey, Student Chair, WPI

The Spark Party will be occurring on November 15th at 6pm. The original Spark Party was thrown in comemeration of the 100th anniversary of the construction of Atwater-Kent, the electrical engineering building at WPI. A professor here, Professor Alex Emanuel was essential in helping us to hold the first Spark Party on November 9th, 2006, as well as in the Spark Party that will be thrown this year. Over 200 people attended last year (we think it was close to 250) which, to my knowledge, was a new record for an event run by the WPI Student Branch of IEEE. It was named the Spark Party because of the stories of the old Spark Parties from when our oldest professor was a student. Apparently, they would assemble collections of power equipment to scare their friends and have a good time.

Today the Spark Party represents all of the best things about electrical engineering, specifically at WPI. It is a strong community effort that brings students and professors together to put on a show for the rest of the professors and the student body. There are power demonstrations, which last year included a pair of Giant Tesla Coils, a Plasma Thruster, a piece of equipment that provided what we dubbed "an Electromagnetic Karate Chop", and many more contributions from students and professors alike. There were also performances by student bands, an electrical engineering rap performed by a student in a giant capacitor costume, a comedy act, and a variety of other types of entertainment. Last year, we had borrowed the Tesla coils from a generous individual, Rick Ladroga, who has provided time and expertise, as well as equipment.
This year, we are building our own. We have a team of students, led by Mike Leferman, who have put no small amount of time and effort into this Tesla coil and it will be unveiled at the Spark Party this year.

The program this year also includes:
~ Demonstrations from Professors Emanuel, Duckworth, Pedersen, Bitar that will demonstrate the most exciting aspects of electrical engineering
~ A demonstration that will produce some impressive sparks from Jim O'Rourke using Van De Graaf and Whimshurst generators
~ An instrumental selection by Professor McNeill
~ The Mario theme song played on an accordion that was modified by a student to contain a synthesizer
~ A few selections from Copper Tree, a student band that was aptly named for a group of electrical engineers
~ The WPI Alma Mater, led by Brenda McDonald, the ECE secretary
~ A student demonstration of a fire fighting robot that he designed and constructed
~ Sketch Comedy by the "Eclectic Comedy Engineers (ECE)" (This is appropriate because of the department's official name: Electrical and Computer Engineering - ECE)

The evening will conclude with a demonstration of the Tesla Coil that we have constructed, and will involve some of the more interesting feats that such a coil is capable of. We expect the program to last between 2.5 and 3 hours.

If you are interested in pictures of last year's Spark Party, they are
available here:

The photos from this year's Spark Party will be posted here after the event:


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