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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 24, 2008

Filling Station

ISU brings energy to state fair exhibit

by Erin Rosacker

Iowa State is partnering with Tad Whitten of Illinois-based Motorsports Management Inc., to present an entertaining component in the university's state fair exhibit -- "Iowa State University: Leading the Renewable Energy Revolution."

The ISU booth remains a mainstay in the northeast corner of the air-conditioned Varied Industries Building throughout the fair, which runs Aug. 7-17. The building is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A history of fueling the future

"It's a massive exhibit," said Carole Custer, university marketing director. "This is a way to show Iowans they should feel very proud of the commitment Iowa State University is making to the renewable energy issue."

On one side, the exhibit includes a re-creation of the first Nebraska service station that sold gasohol -- an ethanol blend of gasoline and corn alcohol developed by Iowa State researchers Leo Christensen, Ellis Fulmer and Ralph Hixon. On the opposite side is a life-size look at what the future might hold for filling stations.

The replica of the 1933 Lincoln, Neb., station will include a Model-T Ford, which ran on the ethanol blend. The futuristic station will exhibit Iowa State's Formula SAE racecar, which runs on E-85 fuel.

Each day of the fair, an 8-minute skit will be staged every 30 minutes. The live performance will feature a customer and station attendant in period-appropriate attire discussing ISU's involvement in the development of the renewable fuel. Custer said celebrity stand-ins could be a part of the act.

"Fairgoers will be able to watch this skit that promotes how Iowa State was in the renewable energy business clear back in the early 1930s," she said.

Throughout the exhibit, towering banners will illustrate Iowa State's involvement in the "energy revolution" -- the state of the revolution, the future of the revolution, revolution leaders and how to join the renewable energy revolution.

"It's what we're doing in biofuels, wind and solar research," Custer said. "Iowa State University is a leader in bioenergy research. It's part of our land-grant mission. It helps not only our state, but the nation."

'Guided' tour and giveaways

"The host during the whole exhibit is Cy," Custer said.

Life-sized cutouts of the mascot will be positioned around the exhibit, holding placard signs to help guide visitors through the display. At the conclusion of the Cy-led tour, visitors can join Cy's "think tank" by participating in an online quiz covering facts found throughout the exhibit. Quiz participants automatically are entered in daily drawings for a $50 fuel card.

Visitors to the booth can register for a pair of ISU football tickets to be given away daily, and the University Book Store will offer retail items from its niche within the exhibit.

"For all that come to visit, Cy will have a special gift for visitors," Custer said.

The usual suspects

Although ISU Extension will not have a dedicated booth this year, its presence will be visible with banners hung throughout the fairgrounds. WOI Radio will broadcast updates and market reports by Extension's Doug Cooper, and Iowa Public Radio's "Talk@12" show will air live from the 4-H Exhibits Building Aug. 12, 14 and 15.

The 4-H building will be teeming with youth projects and exhibits. Visitors can take part in the 4-H Foundation's eBay auction fund-raiser, and the "Deployment: It's Not a Game" activity offered by Operation: Military Kids.

As always, 4-H members will present judges with thousands of livestock and horticulture entries throughout the run of the fair.

Livestock nursery

The College of Veterinary Medicine once again will be a part of the birthing center project, started last year in the newly opened Animal Learning Center. Livestock were bred to give birth during the fair, giving visitors an up-close look at the process.

Jim West, director of ISU's food supply veterninary services, said this year's exhibit will be bigger. There will be cattle, swine, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and ostriches.

"As far as the number of people that went through, and the positive comments we received last year, the exhibit was great," West said.


2008 Iowa State Fair

"U Gotta Love It"
Aug. 7-17, Des Moines


"It's what we're doing in biofuels, wind and solar research. Iowa State University is a leader in bioenergy research. It's part of our land-grant mission. It helps not only our state, but the nation."

Carole Custer, university marketing director