Visionary Projects to Highlight USD Engineering Showcase

Low-cost devices to fight glaucoma, a solar desalination project, and a prosthetic arm made by a 3D-printer are just a few of the innovative projects to be featured at the 2016 University of San Diego Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering Showcase on Friday, May 6. The engineering showcase takes place from 2:30 to 5 p.m. in the university's Loma Hall.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of preventable blindness in the developing world. Working with Clarity Design Inc., electrical and mechanical engineering students are developing both contact and non-contact tonometers that will help the Himalayan Cataract Project screen for the condition in Nepal.

“My teammates and I always get excited when we think about how our work is going towards something that will save lives,” said student Nicole Nino, who is working on the handheld non-contact tonometer to measure pressure in the eye. “What makes our approach different from the tonometers on the market is that ours will cost substantially less at about $500. Most tonometers range from $2,000 to $7,000.”

Reducing costs is also the goal for a low-cost, 3D-printed, custom prosthetic arm that will give amputees the ability to perform basic arm functions and everyday tasks. As part of their senior design projects, students are also working on a device that uses solar energy to provide safe drinking water for populations in developing countries with limited access to water or during an emergency.

Local middle school students have been invited to attend the showcase and watch the seniors demonstrate their projects. Hopefully this will inspire them to consider careers in engineering.

“The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering offers a supportive, well-rounded education that inspires students to innovate, create and ultimately make a difference in our local and global communities,” said Chell Roberts, USD's engineering dean.

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering was inaugurated in 2013 following a gift from Darlene Marcos Shiley, in honor of her late husband, Donald P. Shiley, inventor of the tilting disc artificial heart valve, responsible for saving some 400,000 lives. For more information about USD engineering, visit To see projects from the 2015 engineering showcase, visit