More than 270 undergraduate and graduate students presented their creative work—from formal research endeavors and capstones to social ventures and passion projects—at the 2023 Lehigh Expo held Friday, April 21, in Building C on the Mountaintop campus.
After a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the Expo brought together students and faculty from every discipline to showcase the breadth and depth of their rigorous projects. More than 1,000 admitted students and their families had an opportunity to learn about the distinctive opportunities that are the hallmark of a Lehigh education.
The 2023 Lehigh Expo was part of the Office of Admissions’ Lehigh Fest, which welcomed students admitted to Lehigh’s Class of 2027 and their families and friends. The Expo provided a memorable enhancement to the college-specific programming enjoyed by these visitors during the remainder of the day. These future students were given the opportunity to explore the vibrant and dynamic academic community that they will soon join and to witness first-hand the impactful scholarship and creativity of their future classmates.
The showcase reflected the multidisciplinary nature of Lehigh's academic programs and demonstrated the university's commitment to fostering innovation and excellence across all fields of study. The projects on display at the Expo encompassed a diverse range of disciplines, including engineering, English, computer science, journalism and finance.
The Widding family was among those visiting the Expo. Julia Widding, an incoming first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she was eager to begin her academic journey at Lehigh this Fall. She said the Expo helped her better understand how students pursuing Arts and Sciences could thrive at the university.
"I'm excited to discover the vast array of opportunities Lehigh has to offer. Conversations with students majoring in marketing and journalism were truly insightful," she said.
Widding is exploring various majors offered by the College of Arts and Sciences as she considers her academic path.
Her mother, Joy Cooper Widding '97, who majored in public relations and sociology, praised the Expo as a unique experience.
"We thoroughly enjoyed engaging with students from diverse majors,” she said. “The Expo stood out from other admissions events we attended, offering a personalized touch. Witnessing the students' remarkable work was invaluable. I only wish there had been a similar event during my time at school."
Elizabeth Nikolopoulos, an aspiring biology major, said that the Expo deepened her understanding of the opportunities available at Lehigh. She said she was particularly interested in one of the projects from the Global Social Impact Fellowship program, SicklED. The project aims to develop an affordable, point-of-care diagnostic device for sickle cell disease, with the long-term objective of integrating it into healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries. The approach seeks to enhance accessibility to essential diagnostic tools, ultimately improving healthcare outcomes for vulnerable populations.
"It was thrilling to realize that the major I'm passionate about can have a tangible impact on the world," Nikolopoulos shared. "The Expo offered a great chance for me to engage with fellow students and gain first-hand insights into their research endeavors."
Emory Zimmers, a professor and director of the Enterprise Systems Center in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, attended the Expo with his students. He leads the capstone program and noted that the event benefited both current Lehigh students presenting their work and prospective students in attendance.
"The one-on-one dialogue between prospective students and our current students proved mutually advantageous,” Zimmers said. “Prospective students discovered the opportunities available at Lehigh while our students gained a deeper understanding of their work through explanation and interaction."
Lehigh presenters expressed satisfaction in assisting prospective students and families in various ways.
William Morano '23, a computer science and engineering major, presented the "Vistacom - Sales Wizard" project alongside his team members. The Sales Wizard streamlines Vistacom's sales process by efficiently managing sales opportunities within a user-friendly web application. It collects client information, handles document management, and allows seamless interaction with existing opportunities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
"A significant number of people inquired about the Computer Science and Business Honors Program (CSB) and Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) program. I was glad we could provide insights and assist prospective students in their planning process," Morano said.
Ph.D. student Yasmin Dasilva and her team presented their work, “LGBTQ+ Community Archives,” which began in the Mountaintop Summer Experience program. Yasmin expressed her gratitude for the chance to demonstrate how English majors can contribute to impactful projects. The LGBTQ Community Archives project has preserved and curated the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center's archives, chronicling the Lehigh Valley community's efforts to amend Allentown's Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in the 1970s and 1980s.
Dasilva particularly recalled a conversation she had with a first-generation prospective student.
"The (prospective) student noticed my name tag and asked if I was a first-generation student," Dasilva shared. "He was thrilled to see someone like him thriving and succeeding at Lehigh."
The Expo was planned and organized by the Office of Creative Inquiry in collaboration with Lehigh’s colleges and the Office of Admissions. Planning will begin soon for Expo 2024, and the entire Lehigh community will again be invited to share and support the diversity and vibrancy of interdisciplinary projects which strive to understand the world and find solutions to important local and global challenges.
Story by Haidan Hu