The University of Virginia's School of Engineering opened its doors Saturday to thousands of young students and their families. They got a firsthand look at how new engineering projects are shaping technology of the future.

Rooms in every building of the engineering school were packed wall-to-wall with people curious to learn about the college's program and see how engineers are making a difference. From student-made electric cars on display to 3-D printers churning at full force, it was a day of hands-on learning for thousands of middle and high school students from across the country - including 13-year-old Cason Atkinson and 15-year-old Joe Gonzales.

"UVA is looking really interesting especially the engineering department," Gonzales said.

"We saw all the projects they were doing and have worked on and it was very interesting and it's something I feel I could do in the future," Atkinson said.

School of Engineering students led tours in all their buildings to let families see more than 50 exhibits and speak with faculty. Associate Dean Edward Berger says the annual event is an eye-opening experience.

"Engineering is an interesting discipline because I think people have an abstract idea of what engineering is and who engineers are and what we do, but coming to the open house gives you a much more concrete idea of what the possibilities are," Berger said.

Gonzales sees those possibilities stretching far into his future.

"The future of technology is expanding so quickly that you know the field of engineering is going to be huge," Gonzales said.

Deans of the engineering school say the open house has been held for more than 15 years. They say the event attracts more students and parents every year.