Merry and bright on a Minnesota night

Students of science and engineering at the U show off their skills in an annual light show.


Sabrina Merritt

Glowing lights welcome guests to the 2018 CSE Winter Light Show.

Sabrina Merritt, Senior Reporter

Blues, golds and greens are lighting up the University of Minnesota’s campus this winter. Starting Nov. 30, the University of Minnesota’s (U of M) College of Science and Engineering will be hosting their eighth annual Winter Light Show.

Outside the CSE Building, the student-designed show features a quarter of a million LED lights moving in time to music written and recorded by U students. Students, families and community members crowded together in the snow-covered square to watch the intricate sequences. Viewers could even play with lights themselves as vendors sold glow sticks and other light-up wands and toys. The event was part of 2018’s Student Works Winter Showcase, and the light show was created by the project-based student group Tesla Works.

The group is a project-based organization that focuses on making conceptual ideas into reality by providing students with funding and lab space. While focused on science and engineering, Tesla Works is open to anyone on the U’s campus.

Before the show began, a voice over a loudspeaker not only thanked the audience for coming but also thanked all of those who made the show possible.

“I would like to thank the students of Tesla Works for their countless hours of hard work towards reprising the student group’s largest annual project,” the announcer said. The students working on the project designed and built circuit boards, light features and created note-by-note sequencing for each song in the show. Student services and the CSE planning committee were also thanked for financial and market support.

U of M first-year Jessica Brinkman and her friends found the event through a student group Facebook page.  A Wisconsin native, Brinkman was excited to look for winter activities in the Twin Cities but enjoyed the U’s role of the show.

“I love driving through parks with Christmas lights,” Brinkman said. “I feel like I’d go anyway, but I’m definitely more interested that it’s student-made.”

Kept warm by heat lamps, lights moved to songs such as “Clear Song” and “Dragons and Dragons.” The show ended with a song called “Glory to the Bells,” which is the traditional closing number.

Inside the nearby Ralph Rapson Hall, hot chocolate and a variety of cookies welcomed people from the cold. Students showed off designs and projects, including a small recreation of Star Wars’ R2-D2 that maneuvered around the hall. Several of these students helped work on the light show through the Tesla Works, such as U of M sophomore Avi Limer.

Limer found out about the Tesla Works group during a campus tour his first year of school. This is his second year in the program and working on the lights. This year has been the largest show to date.

“It’s a bit bigger of a project this year because we’ve had more people come working on it this year,” Limmer said.

Limmer likes the program because of the freedom it gives students.

“It allows students to express a lot of creativity that isn’t necessarily allowed in the classroom. And it allows a lot of hands-on activities,” Limmer said.

The show runs weekends until Saturday, Dec. 8. There are three shows a night at 5:30, 6 and 6:30 p.m., and the event is free and open to the public.