Engineering Expo Builds Anticipation for Senior Projects

The first floor of Loma Hall last Friday afternoon was a hub for inquiry. University of San Diego's Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering senior students presented posters and early glimpses of innovative ideas that will build anticipation for May 12, 2017, when the Engineering Showcase features completed senior design projects.

Dec. 2016 Engineering Expo

The Dec. 9 Engineering Expo was a chance to see electrical and mechanical engineering, industrial and systems engineering simulation projects as well as some with an interdisciplinary link between mechanical, electrical and the engineering school’s newest department, computer science, which moved over from the College of Arts and Sciences this fall. 

Project types vary. Some students are doing projects tied to company backing, such as San Diego Gas and Electric, Vildosola Racing, L3 Photonics, BD/CareFusion, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Clarity Design, General Atomics ASI and Cubic Transportation. A few projects provide students a chance to enhance or fine-tune an existing project such as Soulr Cart, Pit Latrine Assistive Device, Cherry Tree Cover and the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series. And there are some ideas that students have conceptualized themselves to solve a problem, provide a service and more.

"We're applying what we've done in the last year and developing something that can leave a legacy, be used here in the (USD Engineering) Machine Shop," said Devyn Bryant, who alongside classmates Dario Caminite, Meredith Hoggatt, Marija Bosnjak and Berea Bearyman, is developing a Waterjet that can cut materials, such as metals, quickly, intricately and economically and be used by future USD engineering students.

Soulr Cart, a mobile healthy food cart business created by soon-to-be USD business administration graduate Tyler Norris and a winner at USD’s Social Innovation Challenge this past spring, is upgrading his popular cart. Norris turned to engineering students Jake Platz, Denis Howell, Christa Rose, Arielle Mayer and Sultan Alyousefi to build a "2.0 version” of the cart.

Platz said the new cart will feature, among other improvements, a solar umbrella, which provides more solar power to keep products cooler longer and offers more food storage space.

"It's amazing to see something that started at USD and to see them make it better," Norris said. "The students have been dedicated, hard-working and professional throughout this project."

Each project group gains confidence in executing what they're working on, whether it's the Windshield Heads-Up Display (HUD) idea that Electrical Engineering student Paine Harris said was "in my head for the last two or three years," or two teams doing separate projects for Vildosola Racing — one focused on aerodynamics and the other on the rear suspension — for a new trophy race truck. Two projects involve swimming pools. One is SwimLite, a competitive performance-enhancing system developed by a group that includes Melissa Beall, a USD student-athlete on the women's swim and diving team; the other is Smart Pool, a monitoring system to measure a pool’s chemistry levels.

The largest project from the standpoint of having the most students, is the 14-person Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series contingent. Eleven mechanical engineers, two electrical engineers and a computer science student are preparing three parts: a new inner chassis, outer chassis and drivetrain. Torero Racing is expected to vie against 100 other universities April 27-30, 2017 in Gorman, Calif., in an event that consists of a design and cost presentation, acceleration test, suspension test, a hill climb and a four-hour endurance race.

Elliot Kadota, a Baja SAE mechanical engineering student, said this ambitious project offers a formidable challenge to build a lighter, more agile vehicle to try and build on the success of last year's USD debut. Kadota indicated that he and the rest of the team will be working on this project during the upcoming winter break.

"I'm really excited to expand my skills by having a true hands-on experience," Kadota said.

Projects in which students gain hands-on experience on company-sponsored ideas is equally beneficial. One such project is the Nano-Grid System, which is devising an independent renewable energy generating system, energy storing system and energy management control system. Sarah Adams, Macklin Gathers and Emmanuel Gomez comprise the team doing this project through sponsorship by SDG&E.

An electrical and mechanical engineering combined project, an IV infusion pump occlusion sensor, is being developed by the team of Shannon Bailey, Ed Alexander, Jumanah Jamal and Nicholas Addiego and is sponsored by BD and CareFusion. The sensor will be designed to eliminate false alarms that occur with current occlusion detection and improve accuracy of IV pump tubing.

Another is the Rehabilitation Insole, a product being developed by students Tanner Henry, Sarah Kapple, Michael Thilenius and Mark Sasaki, for Clarity Designs. The product is an insole that aids stroke victims while they are relearning to walk. Because stroke victims often cannot sense their weight distribution when they walk due to the lost feeling in half of their body, this insole, and an accompanying mobile app, provides assurance that they've properly loaded their weight to each step.

Each of the 25 project groups will now prepare for what's next. Much time will be spent on tinkering with designs, fine-tuning, troubleshooting and testing to solve problems before their May presentations. Getting to the finish line, Sarah Adams says, means only one course of action.

"We're anticipating a lot of problems, but the only way to fix something is to just do it."

— Ryan T. Blystone