Engineering students showcase their work at spring expo

Posted on June 23, 2021 by Abby May

This past spring semester, engineering students presented their work at their annual expo in Guion Hall. The event showcases their inventive and intriguing work and gives them the opportunity to explain their process, goals and achievements.

For the Kinematics and Dynamics course, students modeled, designed and built trebuchets which were then tested in a relentless and strategic grapefruit war on the last day of class. Trebuchet modeling included energy, rigid body and rectilinear motion calculations.

For the Engineering Design in the Community course, students made products for community partners. Here are some of those projects:

      • Library Projector: Students in the engineering service learning course work with stakeholders on a project that the community requests. This year, they created a device that would send an alert to library staff members when a projector is left on for too long. The group used critical thinking skills and various tools to come up with a plan that solves the problem of the community stakeholders. Some of the creativity tools included a black box, Gantt chart and requirements table. After using a weighted design matrix, the group used motion and light sensors to set a time duration for notifying the library staff.

      • Library Windows: The purpose of a sensor on library windows is intended to provide an efficient and effective method to ensure staff will be notified of any windows in study rooms that are not closed at the end of the day. This will prevent any risk to safety, moisture, weather and pest control. The community stakeholder desired that the system be visual and not audible so that students and staff can work without interruption. The system to notify staff can be an email to library staff or a phone call to the front desk.

        Light and temperature sensor

      • Light and Temperature Sensors: Environmental science professor Lisa Powell asked engineering to aid her in a project for the greenhouse. She noticed that different parts of the greenhouse get various amounts of shade throughout the day, specifically in the hydroponics area. She asked for a sensor to measure the amount of sunlight an area receives and for the data to be recorded. Then, the data can be analyzed to find patterns that determine the placement of new bays and plants. She also requested that the temperature be recorded. After brainstorming, the team narrowed it down to three ideas: using an Arduino with an environmental shield, having workers walk around and record measurements and using a combination of illuminance lasers and infrared cameras. The team decided on using the Arduino, as best suited the community partner’s need and the budget.


    • Parapodiums: Parapodiums are used to help paraplegics to stand for a few hours each day, which is recommended to improve their health. It is difficult to find a parapodium that allows for independent operation and offers comfortable support. Our engineering students researched the design process for a top-quality, customized and affordable parapodium design. By combining or eliminating twenty original concepts, three preliminary solutions were created. They evaluated using a weighted design matrix, and the second concept proved to meet the design specifications most accurately. It was customized for the person’s height, adjustable for growth, had a table with storage space and can be used independently.

  • Seedling Waterer: The purpose of this greenhouse product design was to create a device to maintain an appropriate moisture level within a germination tray. The main specifications were an assessment of moisture level, an automated watering system and safety. These specifications guided the design process and directed the flow of the device. After conducting research with the stakeholder and online, the appropriate moisture level for germination trays was determined to be between 40% and 80%. Research was conducted to find a code that would properly read and display the data from the moisture sensor. With this code attached to the moisture sensor, tests were run to determine the sensor’s capabilities. The moisture sensor properly reacted to different moisture levels 100% of the time.

For the Practical Metallurgy course, students designed various projects, using a custom-made coal forge. All of the work was done by hand with hammers, punches, grinders and cutting tools. Additionally, they wrote a technical report detailing each stage of the process and how their handling of the material affected its mechanical and chemical properties. The projects included creating one side of a chess set, an herb chopper, an arm bracelet, a figure-8 keychain, a leaf charm and a mini axe.

Tool designed in metallurgy


For the Capstone course, students completed design projects based on customer requirements that they had been working on all year. The hydroponics team designed and built a hydroponics system using the nutrient film technique on an A-frame structure with room for 80 plants, including a microcontroller to regulate the ph and nutrient density in the drip system.  Their prototype was on display at the expo, and the final product is in the green house. Another project was a smart compass prototype to direct someone who is lost in nature toward a checkpoint. The system also included a beacon to alert fellow travelers.

Hydroponics model


For the Mechatronics course, students designed and built prototypes of various mechatronic systems, based on customer requirements, which included a 2-zone environmental control system for a reptile enclosure, a PID-controlled ball position controller as a way to demonstrate automated self-compensating control systems, and a strain measurement device using three strain gauges for testing material deformation during mechanical testing.

Fidget cube

For Foundations of Engineering Analysis, first-year students designed and made fidget cubes using rapid prototyping tools, including a 3D printer, laser cutter and CNC router. The cubes light up with an LED circuit and have a unique feature on all six faces. They were graded for creativity and quality.