Middle schoolers filled the Aerospace Engineering building on North Campus on Saturday, convening to build rockets and fly hovercrafts as part of the third biennial Aerospace Day.

Throughout the day, the 140 middle school students in attendance rotated through a series of eight activities, and observed a blimp and hovercraft competition for University engineering students. Freshmen and sophomores in the College of Engineering constructed blimps and hovercrafts from scratch through their various classes, then brought them to the competition, where they timed how long they took to fly through a course.

The Aerospace Day culminated with the completion of a mega-blimp built by groups of students throughout the day. Each team built a different section of the blimp, and the final product was flown at the end of the day.

Engineering senior Caue Borlina, who helped organize the event, said the day’s activities sought to increase exposure of the aerospace field.

“We want more people to study aerospace engineering,” he said. “The greatest thing is we have 90 volunteers from the department … The energy is great, and we hope to share that energy with the parents and students.”

This year, the event filled up within 36 hours of the registration launch, drawing students from several local middle schools, the Boy Scouts and a student electronics club from Midland, Mich.

Engineering junior Miranda Peterson said she decided to volunteer for Saturday’s event because she thought she would have enjoyed it as a child.

“When I was a kid, I would have loved to have a day like this — a day to hang out with college kids and see what they get to do and learn about engineering,” she said. “For me, I would have just loved to do this, so since I’m in a spot where I can help out, I took that opportunity.”

Engineering senior Kathryn Shepherd said volunteering provided an opportunity to expose young students to aerospace engineering.

“It’s been really fun,” she said. “It’s really cool to give the kids the hands-on experience working with engineering and kind of push them toward (the) aerospace route because not a lot of kids do that.”

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