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New tours offer an interactive and intimate look at engineering

Cosmo and students in front of Engineering Building

It’s career day at Hypothetical Elementary School. Susie wants to be a computer programmer, Junior wants to be an inventor, and little Betty Lou is good at math, so she wants to be an engineer and make machines. In between, there are aspiring astronauts, scientists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and one aspiring movie star (there’s always a movie star).

Nobody aspires to electrical or computer engineering.

Strange, isn’t it? So many of them - like Susie, Junior and little Betty Lou - would love the field, and they would earn handsome salaries. But unfortunately, they don’t know anything about those two fields.

Even more unfortunately, Hypothetical Elementary isn’t very hypothetical at all. Everybody knows about the engineers that build cars or bridges, but very few know about the engineers who design the systems, signals, and programs that run the modern world. And as a department, we think that needs to change.

We’re engineers and problem solvers, so we revamped our department tours to meet this need. Anybody visiting BYU can now take a private tour of the department complete with a student tour guide, videos of engineering in action, and explanations of our program and projects.

The tour begins in the electrical and computer engineering lobby and snakes through both the Clyde Building and the new Engineering Building, covering major labs, the cleanroom, and the Experiential Learning Center (formerly known as the ECEN Shop). It’s fun and interactive, and it lasts 30-45 minutes.

The department provides building tourists with their own laser tag guns to use on the laser-activated screens spaced throughout the tour. Each screen has a different video about the nearest lab: who uses it, what it teaches, and what projects it hosts. Visitors can see what a bustling classroom or one-on-one project meeting would look like inside, and if they’re lucky, they’ll get to see students working in real life!

Interested folks can book their tours online for 1pm or 3pm, or come as a walk-in anytime between 8am and 4pm. The department can arrange a better experience when appointments are made in advance, but there’s no such thing as an unwelcome tour guest! We want to give everybody the chance to see what we’re all about. Even non-engineering students can come see the stunning new building and learn about the projects we’re bringing to life.

And for those who won’t be stopping by campus anytime soon, we put the entire collection of tour videos on our YouTube channel. It’s better in person of course, but a team of professors, staff, and students all worked hard to make sure viewers get the best virtual experience possible. Electrical engineering students Elise and Tanner, as well as students in the IMMERSE program and Cosmo himself, bring the program to life as they take viewers into each of the department labs.

They say knowledge is power. As professional power experts, we have to say we agree. It’s hard to choose a major without the right information. We made these tours so that the next class of Susies, Juniors, and little Betty Lous have the chance to get all the information they need about electrical and computer engineering, and we can’t wait to open their eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.