If you missed the Red Square Info Fair in September, don't sweat it. Student Activities will be showcasing many of the different campus groups, including AS clubs, AS Programs and Services, WWU Athletics, Lifestyle Advisors, Orientation Student Advisors, the Tutoring Center and other campus departments from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the VU MPR Wednesday Jan. 28. The showcase will feature food, performances and tons of interactive booths.

Building off of the success of last year, this “Winter Info Fair” plans to bring back some of the same spirited performances along with even more innovative table presentations, which were a big hit at last year's Showcase. According to Student Activities Advisor Casey Hayden, this year should be even bigger, with over 100 different campus organizations participating.

The Showcase, Hayden believes, can help students find new ways toward a more engaging experience at Western.

“[The Showcase] offers all the different ways students can get involved on campus,” Hayden said. “We try to show off just about every opportunity for volunteer[ing] and employment at Western.”

Hayden has one bit of advice, however. For students interested in coming on down, make sure to show up earlier rather than later.

Why the emphasis on being punctual?

The first 200 students will receive a special prize: $2 off any food venue in the VU, good for that day only. The coupon includes Q.Q. Li's, El Capitan's and the Coffee Lady, as well as the locations inside the VU, such as the Market, Cafá©, and Underground Coffeehouse. Prizes donated by the AS Bookstore will also be raffled off to a few lucky winners. Free ice cream will be provided by Mallard Ice Cream (as long as it lasts).

Last year food was provided by an outside vendor. Hayden felt that students would prefer local choices instead.

“It's my belief that we have great vendors right here [and] on Vendors Row,” said Hayden.

AS Vice President for Activities Matt Jarrell agrees that the Showcase provides an opportunity for students to sign up for activities but adds that it is also for existing groups to display the various presentations they've been preparing.

“At the beginning of the year we have the Red Square Info Fair and it's always a huge success,” Jarrell said. “But, in the rush of a new school year, some people always miss it, or others don't transfer to Western until winter quarter and miss out. The showcase is a way to get new students involved and let all of the clubs show off all their hard work.”

While this year's Showcase is expected to expand the amount of participating Western offices, AS Activities is also bringing back last year's big trial, club performances.

Returning acts this year include dance clubs such as the Ceili Dance Club (Irish folk dancing), the Tango Club and Step to This, a local hip-hop dance troupe. Also, Dead Parrots Society will conduct a brief, interactive improv comedy session. Hayden hopes that this year's performances will branch out beyond just art and dance to welcome other groups.

“Some of our dance and art clubs will be out there to show off their skills,” Hayden said. “We're really trying to mix it up this year and add more variety, maybe throw in some other forms of recreation.”

Additional groups will be showing off the work they've done so far this year. WWU's Submarine Team will have their human powered submarine on display.
Another vehicle on display at the Showcase is the Viking-40, a large yellow prototype of the WWU XPrize club's car that will eventually be pitted against other competing groups in a series of national races called the Progressive Insurance Automotive XPrize in 2010. The winning team will split a $10 million purse with the second place team, which WWU XPrize team Coordinator Brent Wise plans to put into the Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) if they are victorious.

According to Wise, the engine is comprised of a highly modified four cylinder engine that runs on a combination of gasoline and electricity. Parts of the parameters for the XPrize competition require teams to construct an engine that can get 100 MPGe (Mile per gallon equivalent –in other words, mile per whatever fuel type you're using) as well as being theoretically prepared for a 10,000 unit production line.

For Wise, the XPrize competition is also a chance to put the VRI on the national radar. From an engineering perspective, the XPrize challenge will provide an opportunity to construct a car made completely of composite materials that's also capable of driving on the road.

“Hopefully this event will bring [Western] into the spotlight of automotive design,” Wise said.

Building a working automobile is only one aspect of the XPrize competition however. Two separate teams, working in conjunction with the engineering team, will work together to develop a business and marketing plan for the theoretical production line.

WWU XPrize Public Relations coordinator Nikki Gossell is excited to compete against other vehicle research teams, including concept car teams from large automobile companies. When summer 2010 finally comes, the team will need to present a full business and marketing plan in addition to a fully operational car before they can compete in any of the races.

“It will be interesting to compete against real car companies,” Gossell said. “If there's a demand and if [we] win, we could possibly sell the concept and start producing them.”

At the Showcase, they'll be recruiting students interested in earning experience in many fields of business and engineering, including graphic design, advertising and automotive design, to lend their time. Gossell is particularly excited about the way all three teams are able to work together for a common goal.

“Simply put, it's a race,” Gossell said. “But at the end, we'll have created a car that is realistically viable to produce.”