Did you know?
- As part of Iowa State's land-grant mission, researchers work
hard to get laboratory successes translated into useable products
for the people of Iowa and the country. Recent efforts are to
make the U. S. Army's MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) tastier and safe
to eat without requiring refrigeration, manufacture a lawn fertilizer
that is environmentally friendly, and develop building products
from Iowa crops, like corn, sorghum and soybeans.
- Iowa State architecture student Bryan Berg several times has
broken his own world record and is in the Guinness Book of World
Records for building the world's tallest house of cards. At 15
feet, 8 inches tall, his latest structure took 500 decks of cards
and weighed 85 pounds. It took Bryan more than 60 hours to build
- ISU alumnus Thomas Whitney (B.S. in 1961, M.S. in 1962 and
Ph.D. in 1964), led the Hewlett Packard group that shrank the
calculator to shirt pocket size, one-tenth the size of the previous
- Visitors to Iowa State's virtual reality lab can climb the
steps of campus buildings, skim the surface of the campus lake
or fly over the Campanile bell tower -- all without breaking a
sweat. The virtual reality tour of campus was developed by students
and professors using computer visualization equipment. The virtual
reality tourist can zip around campus with the turn of a head
and at speeds that range from leisurely to supersonic.
- ISU alumnus Ed McCracken (class of 1966) and the computers
at his company, Silicon Graphics, gave us Tyrannosaurus Rex and
other Jurassic Park dinosaurs and even put words in the mouth
of President Kennedy in Forrest Gump. The dazzling computer graphics
can produce realistic 3-D images of anything from machine parts
to body parts.
- In 1895, the Cardinal football team from the "Iowa Agricultural
College", traveled to Evanston, Ill., to take on powerhouse
Northwestern. Iowa State won handily, prompting a sportswriter
for the Chicago Tribune to title his story, "Evanston hit
by Iowa Cyclone." The nickname stuck and ISU athletic teams
are still called the Cyclones.
- The Ames Laboratory got its beginning by playing a crucial
role in the Manhattan Project of the early 1940s, a project that
led to the development of the first atomic bomb. ISU scientists
succeeded in purifying significant quantities of uranium for the
- Jane Smiley, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for fiction
for her novel, A Thousand Acres, is a faculty member in
ISU's English department. Smiley's latest novel, Moo, is
a satirical look at a land-grant university. It has been nominated
for the 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award.
- There are more than 200 works of public art on campus, including
sculptures by Christian Petersen and murals by Grant Wood. Iowa
State's campus was rated as one of America's 25 best in the book,
The Campus as a Work of Art.
- Breakfast foods, paints and dyes, and postage stamp glue are
some of the hundreds of products devised by scientist George Washington
Carver from peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, cotton and Alabama
clay. Carver was Iowa State's first African American student,
earning bachelor's and master's degrees in 1894 and 1896, respectively.
He became the first African American member of the Iowa State
faculty, before departing for Tuskegee Institute, Alabama.
- Iowa State has sponsored a car in each of the three Sunrayces,
finishing as high as 10th in 1993. Sunrayce is a cross-country
road race for college and university teams sponsored by General
Motors to explore the use of solar-powered vehicles. The fourth
Sunrayce will be in June 1997 and a team of ISU students is gearing
up for it. The Iowa State car, PrISUm, is powered by solar cells
providing about 1,200 watts of energy; essentially what it takes
to run a hair dryer. During the race, solar car drivers must cross
railroad tracks at a perpendicular angle so that the bicycle wheels
that support their cars don't get stuck in the grooves of the
- Iowa State University is the birthplace of the electronic
digital computer, one of the most important technical innovations
of the 20th century. It was invented at Iowa State in the late
1930's by faculty member John Vincent Atanasoff and one of his
graduate students, Clifford Berry.
(Part of this early computer is the item shipped to the Smithsonian,
see "What's in the Box?"
story on page 2.)