The Bionic Kid comic, created by a Limbitless arm recipient, 10-year-old Zachary Pamboukas, will be at Orlando's MegaCon this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Limbitless Solutions)

UCF at Comic Cons in Orlando and Puerto Rico This Weekend

By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala on

The University of Central Florida is storming the comic con world this week by participating in MegaCon Orlando and Puerto Rico Comic Con.

Both events are geared for fans of science fiction, fantasy, anime, and horror. They draw thousands of attendees who attend celebrity panels, shop for their favorite novelties, comics, and collectibles, and dress up in cosplay (costumes of their favorite characters.) MegaCon Orlando bills itself as the southeast’s largest fan convention. More than 100,000 people are expected during the May 16-19 event. Puerto Rico Comic Con is the premier convention for the Caribbean, drawing similar numbers May 17-19 in San Juan.

‘Mr. Spock’ on Science and Science Fiction

UCF physics Professor Josh Colwell has worked on multiple NASA missions and conducts research into the origins of the solar system. He also teaches introductory and advanced physics classes, where he’s learned the value of making science fun as a method to teach and spark the imagination. Colwell is also a big sci-fi fan, which is why he’ll be channeling Spock, the Star Trekicon, when he visits MegaCon on Friday.

Dressed in cosplay, Colwell will engage attendees and ask them to ponder the connection between their favorite science fiction show and real science. He’ll share what we do at UCF that is relevant to Marvel, Star Wars and other universes and tell us how close or how far we are from turning science fiction into reality.

Colwell says he will be looking for UCF students, so if you spot him, introduce yourself, tell him about your cosplay and be part of the action. Highlights of the visit will be shared on UCF’s social media channels next week.

prosthetic arm positioned on stone stand
Limbitless’ new arm sleeve design, inspired by Halo (Photo courtesy of Limbitless Solutions)

Prosthetics, Gaming and Comic Books

UCF-based Limbitless Solutions, which creates uniquely designed prosthetic arms for children, will have a booth at MegaCon. The team will unveil a new prosthetic arm sleeve themed around the Halo 2 video game character Arbiter. The sleek design was completed in collaboration with 343 Industries, the developer of the blockbuster Halo series.

The booth will also house demonstrations of the video training games Limbitless developed in collaboration with the School of Visual Arts and Design at UCF. The games help new and future recipients of the arms, who belong to the Limbitless’ Bionic Kids family, train and strengthen their muscles.

One arm recipient, 10-year-old Zachary Pamboukas, created The Bionic Kid comic book series to help generate money for Limbitless. Zachary says he didn’t have money of his own to donate, so he designed the comic book with the help of his older brother and parents as a way to pay it forward. The Washington state native will be at the Limbitless booth this weekend selling his comics. Zachary will be signing his comics, which cost $20 each, for attendees. If you can’t make the convention, a digital version of the comic book is available on Amazon.

Two comic book issues called Data Dreams
Arecibo Observatory, which is managed by UCF, will debut its comic book series at the Puerto Rico Comic Con, which draws thousands of attendees every year.

Arecibo Observatory’s New Mascot, Comic Book

Meanwhile, 1,189 miles away, the creative team from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will staff its own booth during the Puerto Rico Comic Con. The observatory is unveiling its own comic book series, Data Dreams, which follows the adventures of the facility’s new mascot, Greg.

UCF manages the National Science Foundation-supported facility under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc.

The comic book series and the mascot were created to raise awareness about the importance of space science and the impact it has on Earth by engaging young audiences and making science fun to understand. William Gonzalez Sierra, a graphic designer at Arecibo, developed Greg and the comic book.

Part of the observatory’s mission is to help educate the general public about space science and to ignite a spark among youth to pursue STEM-related careers.

“We wanted to debut Greg in a unique way,” says Francisco Córdova, the director of Arecibo. “Comic Con was a good, creative fit and we’re grateful for the collaboration that will bring Greg to a wider audience.”

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