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TouchTomorrow Festival at WPI Set for June 11

touch sign

A Festival of Science, Technology and Robots! Third Annual Event to Feature Dozens of Hands-On Space and Technological Exhibits.

On Saturday, June 11, 2016  Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will again transform its Worcester, Massachusetts campus into a family-friendly festival of hands-on technology and exhibits in celebration of the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge. TouchTomorrow is a free and interactive once-day festival celebrating space, science, technology and robots. The festival, now in its third year, is composed of hands-on exhibits and activities focused on our scientific and technological future. The event is sponsored by National Grid while WGBH Education and PBS Learning Media are media partners. WGBH will bring exhibits for the younger set, middle school students, and high school students.


TouchTomorrow follows the NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot (SRR) Challenge, a Centennial Challenge competition. Now in its third year on campus, the competition held over three days leading up to the festival – brings a prize purse of approximately $1.5 million. The SRR Challenge calls for teams of roboticists to build, program and demonstrate robots that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain, without human control. WPI is the first university that NASA has partnered with to manage a Centennial Challenge, and the SRR Challenge is the first of these competitions to be held east of the Mississippi. Twenty teams from across the United States and abroad are coming to WPI in hopes that their robots will maneuver a difficult course and obtain the cached samples successfully.

Why WPI? A leader in robotics research and education at all levels, NASA chose WPI in 2012 as the first and only college to host a NASA Centennial Challenge. WPI not only created the first bachelor’s degree in robotics in the nation but also regularly manages robotics competitions, is on the cutting-edge of robotics research and technology, and sponsors a wide variety of programs that foster the use of robots to solve societal problems.

WGBH will bring exhibits for the younger set, middle school students, and high school students. (Photos: WPI)

Festival attendees can participate in a number of exciting outdoor and indoor exhibits and activities sponsored by groups such as NASA, WGBH Education, Ecotarium, Science from Scientists, FIRST Robotics, Worcester Historical Museum, Discovery Museum, iRobot, David Clark Company and National Grid. Attendees can explore and engage research projects being conducted by WPI faculty and students and meet NASA astronauts.

This year, 200 complimentary issues of Robot magazine will be handed out at the WPI booth. Please stop by to meet your hosts and pick up a copy while supplies last!  And be sure to look for coverage of TouchTomorrow in upcoming issues of the magazine.

touch atsronaiot

Among other activities, attendees may:

  • Investigate the lifecycle of a star
  • Play M&M math games
  • Command the NASA Marcbot
  • Take a photo in a NASA spacesuit
  • Learn about spacesuit design through vacuum chamber experiments
  • Learn about WPI research on human-robot interaction, surgical robots, inter-vehicular networking, unmanned aerial vehicles, biomechanics, intelligent tutors, and other cutting-edge fields.
  • Take a “selfie” with WARNER, WPI’s tall, dark and humanoid robot.
  • See WPI student project work in robotics, renewable energy, assistive technology, game design, architectural engineering, and other areas.
  • Make slime
  • “Kinect” with a NASA virtual robot
  • Take the paper airplane design challenge
  • See a model of the Mars Rover Curiosity
  • Check out WPI’s NASA-sponsored research on heat transfer in space

The festival is scheduled 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus is located at 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609. For more information on TouchTomorrow events and activities, including schedules and maps and the Sample Return Robot Challenge, visit