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Mock Lectures

Our professors are excited to provide lectures to middle and high school students on a wide variety topics with the hopes of not only imparting new knowledge, but to also get more youth excited about engineering careers. Use the menu below to view topics currently being offered. Don't see what you're looking for? Let us know and we'll see what we can put together for you. Lectures can be made available in person as classroom visits, or online. 

Why are they called, "Mock Lectures?" Because these topics are all slightly adapted content from actual lectures these professors use in their classes. We hope students don't just learn something new, but also experience a sample of what the college experience can and will look like for them some day! 

Lecture Topic Grades Duration Presenter Format
Arctic Coastal Hazards and Risks 9-12 10-20 min Dr. Tom Ravens Virtual or F2F
Breaking the Sound Barrier 9-12 20-40 min Dr. Jennifer Brock Virtual
Data Representation and Error Detection 5-8 30 min Dr. Kenrick Mock Virtual
The Design and Collapse of the Twin Towers 6-12 40-60 min Dr. Scott Hamel Virtual or F2F
Designing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline 6-12 30-60 min Dr. Scott Hamel Virtual or F2F
Failure of a Wind Turbine in Nome, AK 6-12 20 min Dr. Matt Cullin Virtual
Guide to the Night Sky 5-12 20-30 min Omega Smith Virtual or F2F
Heat Transfer and Baked Alaska 4-9 10-20 min Dr. Jennifer Brock Virtual
History of X-rays: Discovery and Applications 6-12 30-40 min Dr. Raghu Srinivasan Virtual or F2F
How Buildings Shake 6-12 40-60 min Dr. Scott Hamel Virtual or F2F
Internal Combustion Engines 4-12 20-60 min Dr. Matt Cullin Virtual
Material Selection in Mechanical Engineering 9-12 45 min Dr. Matt Cullin Virtual
“Phase” Book: Graphical Map of Water Systems 6-12 30-40 min Dr. Raghu Srinivasan Virtual or F2F
Rust and Rot: Corrosion Chemistry 6-12 30-40 min Dr. Raghu Srinivasan Virtual or F2F
Strength Vs Toughness: Impact Testing of Metals 6-12 30-40 min Dr. Raghu Srinivasan Virtual or F2F
Tour of the Solar System 3-6 20-30 min Omega Smith Virtual or F2F
Wavelengths of the Universe 5-12 20-30 min Omega Smith Virtual or F2F
What Kind of Engineer Are You? 9-12 30 min Various Virtual

Request a Lecture

Arctic Coastal Hazards and Risk

coastal erosion

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Grades: 9-12
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Tom Ravens, Civil Engineering Professor

Abstract: This lecture describes the hazards and risks by coastal communities in Alaska. It shows how we can use basic engineering principles to forecast future environmental conditions and to plan for them.

Breaking the Sound Barrier

old airplane

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 9-12
Duration: 20-40 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Jennifer Brock, Associate Dean for Academics and Mechanical Engineering Professor

Abstract: The lecture focuses on the history of the idea of the sound barrier: where did the idea come from, why did people believe that it couldn’t be broken, who were these people who believed it couldn’t be broken, etc.  It lays out the science for why fluid dynamics at extremely high speeds is a more complex mathematical problem than fluid dynamics at lower speeds.  It also goes through the surprising history of compressible fluid dynamics, which reveals that the science was actually pretty well-established in a lot of ways before the start of the twentieth century. 

Data Representation and Error Detection

Binary

Discipline: Computer Science
Grades: 5-8
Duration: 30-40 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Kenrick Mock, Dean and Computer Science & Systems Engineering Professor

Abstract: This lecture and participatory activity describes how computers represent information in binary, how that information can be transmitted from one computer to another, and how we can detect whether an error may have occurred during transmission.

The Design and Collapse of the Twin Towers

old airplane

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 40-60 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Scott Hamel, Civil Engineering Professor and Department Chair

Abstract: When the World Trade Center's Twin Towers were completed in 1971, they surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest buildings on Earth. This lecture discusses the cutting edge technology and design that went into the Twin Towers, the special features that allowed them to continue standing for a prolonged period of time after the tragic impacts of two airliners on 9/11, and the specific failure mechanisms that ultimately led to their collapse. 

Design of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

old airplane

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 40-60 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Scott Hamel, Civil Engineering Professor and Department Chair

Abstract: This lecture discusses the thermal, structural, and foundation considerations that went into the design of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. How thick is the pipe?  How strong is the steel?  How do changes in temperature cause the pipes to stretch and shrink? Why is the pipeline above ground in some areas but below ground in others? Dr. Hamel answers these questions and more! 

Failure of a Wind Turbine in Nome, AK

turbines 

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 20 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Matt Cullin, Mechanical Engineering Professor

Abstract:  This lecture examines the catastrophic failure of a wind turbine in Nome, AK. Relevant aspects of wind turbine operation are introduced and remnants of the failed component are examined. The process for determining the root cause of failure of the turbine is described. A discussion of fatigue cracking in mechanical components is provided.

Guide to Your Night Sky

A starry night sky.

Discipline: Astronomy
Grades: 5-12
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Presenter: Omega Smith, UAA Planetarium Manager

Abstract: Our Planetarian will show your class how to use Stellarium, a free open-source planetarium software, to explore the night sky. As we guide you through the constellations, we will explore the mythology behind them, what stars make them, and the planets that pass through them. This can be catered for students to follow along on their own device or as a lecture.

Heat Transfer and Baked Alaska

smoked salmon

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 4-9
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Jennifer Brock, Associate Dean for Academics and Mechanical Engineering Professor

Abstract:  This lecture Introduces heat transfer concepts and discusses the smoked salmon lab that I do with my seniors. Can be adjusted for length.

History of X-rays: Discovery and Applications

Cartoon of doctor holding an x-ray

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Raghu Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: This lecture described the accidental discovery of X-ray by Professor William Roentgen who won the first Nobel prize in Physics (1901). His discovery of X-rays has numerous applications which include medical radiography, non-destructive testing for pressure vessels, chemical identity tool, X-ray diffraction for crystal structure identity, and more.

How Buildings Shake

Building Destroyed

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 40-60 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Scott Hamel, Civil Engineering Professor and Department Chair

Abstract: This lecture provides an introduction to the geological causes of earthquakes, the motions that buildings experience during an earthquake, and the primary structural systems that prevent them from falling down. For in-person lectures, Dr. Hamel can include a live demonstration of the swaying behavior of a model building using a shake table, a device that simulates the motions of earthquakes. 

Internal Combustion Engines

engine

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 4-12
Duration: 20-60 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Matt Cullin, Mechanical Engineering Professor

Abstract: This lecture introduces the fundamentals of internal combustion engine operation. Longer modules include a discussion of the physics behind several critical engine components (i.e., carburetor, magneto, etc.) and hands on exploration of a disassembled lawnmower engine.

Material Selection in Mechanical Engineering

brakes 

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 9-12
Duration: 45 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Matt Cullin, Mechanical Engineering Professor

Abstract: This lecture explores the material selection portion of the engineering design process. Automotive brake rotors are used as an illustrative example of the interplay between geometry, material selection, and performance of a mechanical component. Students are introduced to the physical properties of four classes of engineering materials: metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. Common brake rotor designs are examined to illustrate the tradeoffs between cost, performance, and reliability that are commonly encountered in engineering practice.

“Phase” Book: Graphical Map of Water Systems

Water systems graph 

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Raghu Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: Different phases exist for material systems and phase diagrams or equilibrium diagrams helps you identify the stable phases present based on temperature and pressure (similar to finding a location on a map based on coordinates). A phase is some portion of a body of materials throughout which the physical and chemical characteristics are homogenous. For example, water system has three phases: Ice (solid), Water (Liquid), and Steam (vapor). This lecture details the importance of pressure when mentioning the boiling point or melting point of water. This lecture will also introduce the phase concepts in metal systems.

Rust and Rot: Corrosion Chemistry

rusting winch block 

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Raghu Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: What is the difference between rust and corrosion? Why doesn't gold corrode? This lecture talks about corrosion and how it affects every one of us. Corrosion is ubiquitous and it is defined as the degradation of metals when exposed to a corrosive environment. Atmospheric corrosion is surely the most visible of all corrosion processes and you can see that in rusty bridges, flag poles, buildings, cars, ships and outdoor monuments.

Strength Vs Toughness: Impact Testing of Metals

pendulum 

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Grades: 6-12
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Raghu Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: Have you ever seen a heavy hammer swing like a pendulum? A hammer is dropped on to steel specimens at different temperatures to qualitatively determine their impact toughness. Most metals go through elastic deformation under applied force (very small though). This is very similar to a rubber band where they can be expanded under force and restored to its original shape once the applied force is removed. This phenomenon in metals is not apparent visibly like the rubber band. Once the applied force exceeds a certain value, metal changes its shape permanently (cannot be restored to its original shape after the force is removed) and this phenomenon is called plastic deformation. Most metals eventually fail after going through elastic and plastic deformation and we call this as ductile fracture. Some metals fracture right after elastic deformation without any plastic deformation (similar to glass rods) and we call this as brittle fracture. There are few metals that go through this transition from ductile to brittle fracture as the temperature decreases. This Charpy Impact test will show the fracture of steel specimens at different temperatures and how it absorbs the energy when the hammer is dropped from a pendulum.

Tour of the Solar System

A representation of the solar system.

Discipline: Astronomy
Grades: 3-6
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Presenter: Dr. Tom Ravens, Civil Engineering Professor

Abstract: This lecture describes the hazards and risks by coastal communities in Alaska. It shows how we can use basic engineering principles to forecast future environmental conditions and to plan for them.

Wavelengths of the Universe

A representation of different wavelengths in the galaxy.

Discipline: Astronomy
Grades: 5-12
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Presenter: Omega Smith, UAA Planetarium Manager

Abstract: There is much of the universe that is invisible to the human eye. Visible light only makes up a small portion of the light streaming in space. In order to see that light, we have built detectors to act as our eyes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope. This mock lecture will introduce the wavelengths of light, what objects emit that light, and the array of telescopes we use to study them.

What Kind of Engineer Are You?

Woman on computer 

Discipline: Engineering, Computer Science, and Geomatics
Grades: 9-12
Duration: 30 minutes
Presenter: Various Presenters

Abstract: This lecture provides students an opportunity to explore the characteristics and qualities that benefit prospective civil, computer systems, electrical, and mechanical engineers, computer scientists, and geomatics professionals. Students will take a personality inventory to discover which possible careers are a great fit for them, learn more about what those fields look like, and discover what those programs of study look like at UAA.