UF is sending the largest group ever to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.
The 24-member group will represent UF at the largest STEM festival in the country from April 25 to 27.
This year’s representatives are undergraduates chosen from various student societies, said Nancy Ruzycki, the director of undergraduate laboratories at UF.
In the past, there were a few graduate students and a couple different displays that would be up all day, she said. This year, the student groups will be doing rotations of two hours a day at a 30- by 10-foot booth.
Eight clubs will be represented, including the Society of Women Engineers, the UF Rocket Team, the Society of Hispanic Engineers, the Society of Physics Students and the American Nuclear Society.
Ruzycki said UF organizers tried to pick clubs with broad memberships that were not unique to one department. A lot of times academia does not represent the Student Body at large, she said, and the idea is to showcase the diversity not only in what students learn, but what they do.
The university is providing transportation in the form of two vans, housing, materials for their experiments and the banners for each club.
The total cost of the trip is about $13,000, said Ata Sarajedini, an associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The funds are being provided by CLAS, the College of Engineering, the Provost’s office and the admissions office.
He said the switch to a group of all-undergraduate students is a move intended to draw more attention to UF’s booth.
“Obviously students are our best ambassadors,” Sarajedini said.
The festival will include a section where the students can do activities with children, a display area and a talk and demonstration area, Ruzycki said.
“The crowd is primarily young people, so rather than have adults talking at them, they’re going to have students that more closely resemble themselves to look at and listen to about all the exciting things that go on at the University of Florida,” she said.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 4/21/2014 under the headline "UF students to head to D.C. for country’s largest STEM festival"]