By Isaac Espinosa
In an effort to help people recognize the differences that the university makes in their lives, UC Irvine hosted a Festival of Discovery in Aldrich Park last Saturday.
As part of the three-year celebration of the university’s fiftieth anniversary, the Festival allowed attendees to learn about the university’s wide spectrum of research and public work projects.
“We want to endear the campus to people’s lives,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Parham. “We want to let them know how it has affected their lives.”
The school’s impact was categorized into four themes — health and wellness, local and global impact, ingenuity and innovation and arts and culture — which were separated into four tented pavilions. Each pavilion held booths and demonstrations showcasing the university’s contributions to each theme, and participants in these projects were available to provide a brief rundown of how their work applies to everyday life.
From eco-friendly cooking to high-tech surgery machines, each booth had a certain focus and something to teach to all who stopped by. Student athletes came out to play light games with attendees, and a large printout of Mamadou N’Diaye let people see how their height and arm length matches up to the lofty basketball player.
Parham, who was appointed as chair of the planning committee in 2013, worked with various departments across the school to organize the pavilions and demonstrations.
“I get a lot of praise as chair of the committee for how wonderful things have been,” Parham revealed. “But, I want to focus on how collaborative it has been.”
The festivities were kicked off at 8:30 am with the Anteater 5K Run, which passed through Aldrich Park and Ring Road, leading participants past displays themed after each decade from the 1960s on. Movie, music and pop culture references were copious in number and rich in detail, making the run more than an average jog through campus.
Runners were encouraged to celebrate the various fashion trends of the past, and a costume contest was held to award the best dressed.
Food trucks gathered alongside the main stage featured burgers, crêpes, gourmet sandwiches and experimental snacks such as “wachos” from the Lobos Grill (nachos with cross-cut fries as substitutes for chips), which provided students a reprieve from the usual dining halls and local eateries.
The Festival’s main stage held performances from Flashback Heart Attack — an Orange County-based 80s cover band — and the Pacific Brass Symphony.
A covered half-dome in the middle of the grounds held a presentation named My Virtual Dream, which allowed participants to visualize their thoughts using special headsets. TEDxUCI sessions were also available during the festivities, and featured speakers such as Francisco Ayala, the namesake of UC Irvine’s School of Biological Sciences, and various UC Irvine professors and students.
Oct. 4, 2015 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first day UC Irvine had classes, and the commencement of the 2016 class will mark the end of the anniversary’s cycle.
The Festival of Discovery provided a comprehensive look back at UC Irvine’s half-century of accomplishments, as well as a preview of achievements yet to come.