The Energy of Engineering Drives E-Fest East

Young engineers from across the country are gearing up to innovate, compete, network, land that dream job, and, of course, have a whole lot of fun at the upcoming E-Fest East at Penn State.

ASME’s celebration of all things engineering, now in its second year and bigger than ever, takes over the university campus April 13-15. One of the festival’s highlights (and we do mean just one) is Saturday’s luncheon keynote speaker Dr. Albert Manero who, as president of Limbitless Solutions, is combining cutting-edge engineering chops with a full-on entrepreneurial spirit to drive the field of bionics to new heights. His talk, “Engineering Hope with 3D-Printed Bionics,” will showcase what he’s all about.

Manero also knows how to bring out the best in young engineers. Limbitless began as a project with a group of volunteer students at the University of Central Florida, where they built an Iron Man-themed arm for a 7-year-old-boy with a partially developed limb. After eight months of development and redesign, the team, along with Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., delivered the new arm to the boy. Limbitless in now dynamic non-profit that builds affordable, 3-D printed arms for other children.

Manero, who’ll be arriving at Penn State a bit early to experience the full scope of the festival, is looking forward to meeting as many young engineers as he can. “I think this type of event is important because we need to bring together more engineers who are focused on making tangible change in our community,” he told us. “We want to engage students so that they’ll be able to go in there and do it.”

Penn State’s own Marie Horomanski, president of ASME’s PSU Student Chapter and the E-Fest East student leader, will co-host the keynote and head up what promises to be a lively Q&A following Manero’s talk. To make sure it is lively, we’re giving away Mechanical Engineering magazine’s newly designed, super stylish and oh-so hip baseball caps to the engineers who ask Manero the most compelling and thoughtful question. Step up to the mic early because they won’t last.

Horomanski will be heading to full-time gig with flow equipment providers Cameron, a division of Schlumberger, when she graduates this year. Participating in these types of events, she says, provides the experiences, knowledge and industry contacts that stay with students and help them well past senior year.

“We bring hundreds of engineering students from all over the nation to learn, grow and share knowledge and experiences between us that we’ll remember long after college,” she says. “When we go into industry and research, the more experiences we have based on a collaborative spirit, the more we can change the world.”
That collaborative spirit will be on full display during this year’s competitions. Robot Football teams will battle it out in the South Gym during the Student Design Competition, while the highly competitive Human Powered Vehicle Challenge takes over the Bryce Jordan Center.

If you find going into either competition that your team needs some last-minute leadership skills, swing by the Student Leadership Training Session from 1 -2 p.m. on Friday. Leaders in industry and research will be teaching effective brainstorming strategies and how to develop the empathy you need to work with even the most difficult team member. Let’s just hope it’s not too late.

Of course, for better or worse, college doesn’t last forever. This year’s festival offers plenty of career-building strategies, including seminars on how to create a winning resume, nail an interview and walk away with a coveted job.

No E-Fest would be complete without a look at some of the newest tools and technologies. This year’s hands-on workshops explore the latest design and 3-D printing technologies, concepts, solutions and applications, all presented by industry and academic leaders.

The show closes with one of our favorite young engineers, Jessica Menold, an assistant professor at the university’s School of Engineering Design and Professional Programs and the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department. She’ll be participating in the Engineering for Change’s (E4C) session on the intersection of technology and global development through case studies from Menold and other engineers from the E4C community.

We featured Menold in Mechanical Engineering magazine when, as a doctoral student at Penn State, she and her team had just launched a socket for prosthetic legs that was more comfortable, customizable, and cost-effective than traditional sockets. The device went on to win Menold and her team numerous awards and generated tons of publicity for their startup, Amparo. We look forward to hearing similar stories at this year’s E-Fest East. See you there!

View the complete program of E-Fest East.
Jeff O’Heir is senior content manager at