Eight teams of Virginia Commonwealth University students were named winners from a total of 67 competing teams in the School of Engineering’s Senior Design Expo, the premier event launching this week’s University-wide Student Research Week.
The 2013 Expo, held Friday at the Science Museum of Virginia, featured research and development projects including: road-adaptive headlights, a digitally controlled steam iron, an automated shower device for the elderly and disabled, a detection and location device for underground tritium leaks and an energy-saving ice rink temperature control system.
The event brought together senior engineering students and their faculty advisers with judges from business and industry, including representatives from Amazon, DuPont Teijin Films, Evonik Goldschmidt, Flexicell, Honeywell, GE Cybersecurity, Micron Technology, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and United Equipment Corporation. Some of these companies and others also provided grant funds, equipment and industry advisers to assist the student teams.
“We do projects with VCU and have engineering students who work with us. We also have staff members who come to VCU for graduate work,” said Joseph W. Roos, Ph.D., an expo judge and Technical Director for Technology Development at Afton Chemical Corporation. “VCU’s engineering students are doing good work and they’re enthusiastic. Their design projects are not just an assignment – the students get into them.”
The expo, co-sponsored by the Science Museum of Virginia, was attended more than a thousand middle-and high- school students, who received a firsthand view of how their education could lead to college-level engineering studies and future careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM and healthcare fields where demand for skilled employees is high.
The VCU students, working across the engineering school’s multiple programs, have spent their final undergraduate year conceptualizing, designing and testing projects aimed at improving human life and advancing technology and research. The projects – part of VCU’s engineering curriculum since 1999 – are the capstone of students’ studies and a requirement for their graduation.
“We spent many hours doing research to make sure we understood the premises,” Harrison Ngo said of his three-person biomedical engineering team’s winning work.
Added Gongbo Song of his team’s “Microgrid Power Management Toolkit” to reduce buildings’ energy costs, “Whenever we were done with class, we worked on the project.”
In recognizing students’ work and success, VCU Engineering Dean Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., opened the awards ceremony to cheers saying, “I believe these teams represent all of us. I’ll see you at graduation.”
The award winning projects are:
Biomedical Engineering: Christina Walinski for her development of software and technology to ultimately create a self-directed audio tour for visually impaired visitors to Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The audio tour would use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to link a hand-held device to RFID tags placed around the gardens. Click here to read more.
Chemical and Life Science Engineering: Elise Lambert, Erica Mitchell and Kris Singh for their project examining methods to separate the damaging phytic acid contained in chickpeas and other highly nutritious legumes that are vital food staples globally.
Computer Engineering: Brian Berry, Alex Hinton and Josh White for their development of a wireless communication system to a Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) that Dominion Power, a sponsor of the project, could ultimately use to enhance its older RTUs by allowing them to operate wirelessly. The team developed a protocol that will work with a variety of RTU models.
Computer Science: Benny De La Rosa, Shaun Donachy, Daniel Flood, Jason Hernaez and Bruce Pulley for their “HackTech Automated Judging System” for use by CapTech, a Richmond-based technology consulting firm that hosts the internal “HackTech” computer programming competition.
Electrical Engineering: William Pedler, Bobby Rich and Sean Sundberg for their work to combine linear and rotational motors in a novel way. The team created a device that provided both motions through a system of static magnets and electromagnetic coils and someday could lead to enhanced medical machinery, assembly line production and security systems.
Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering: Justin Dickerson, Jonathan Marsh, Matt Schell and John Swanson for their creation of a stair-climbing wheelchair. Potentially, the wheelchair’s design could assist the elderly and people with physical disabilities.
Multidisciplinary: Sujan Adhikari, Daniel Klinefelter and Harrison Ngo for their creation of a liquid ventilation system that ultimately could help patients suffering from life-threatening breathing illnesses.
The Wright-Virginia Microelectronics, W-VMC Cup: Brandon Reynolds, Lukas Widhalm and John Wilson, with Light Engineering Design (L.E.D.), for their electrical engineering project that may lead to the development of small scale LEDs for use in optical displays and lasers.
About VCU School of Engineering
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, located in Richmond, Virginia, opened in 1996, now teaches 1,763 undergraduate students and 242 graduate students. The School offers more than 300,000 square feet of the highest quality classrooms and laboratory space. Driven to be the national model for innovation in engineering and research, the School offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical, nuclear, biomedical, electrical, computer and chemical and life science engineering, and computer science. Interdisciplinary research opportunities are offered through the Center for Nanomaterials and Characterization, the Institute for Engineering and Medicine, the C. Kenneth and Dianne Harris Wright Virginia Microelectronics Center, and the da Vinci Center for Innovation. For more, see www.egr.vcu.edu or http://www.egr.vcu.edu/news-events/senior-design-expo/ .