Fall Engineering and Computing Expo Offers First-Look at Senior Design Projects

University of San Diego engineering and computer science senior student design projects were showcased on posters throughout Loma Hall's first floor area on Friday, Dec. 8. It was the first glimpse of what graduating students are working on to cap off their time as undergrads.


Fall17 EngineeringCS Expo

Going room to room, the excitement in the students' voices as they shared their project, shared their passion and understanding of the work that's still ahead is palpable. Best of all, senior students know that this is the start of their opportunity to put all that they've learned through the dual degree (BS/BA) program on display.

There are projects done by students in connection with industry partners such as General Atomics, Solar Turbines, Thermo Fisher, Clarity Design, SDG&E and Cubic Transportation. Some students have gone the entrepreneurial route to create something they want to see come to life and there are projects that are available for students to take on by way of the options presented to them at the beginning of the fall semester. This year, several of the latter experiences are coming by way of support from USD's Associated Students and the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

There is also a perpetual project, the SAE Mini Baja, which enters its third year as an entity for the largest team of students. This year's model, still being built, will compete in a new venue in 2018. Unlike the first two years of competing in Gorman, Calif., USD's entry will vie in the Society of Automotive Engineers' Oregon Collegiate Design Competition in Portland. The event will also take place in late May, a much later date than the previous two years.

The team consists of 15 engineering students this year — Rakan Alhajeri, Robert Jackson, Parker Robb, Yousif Al Bader, Anton Navazo, Chandler Rogers, Austin De Caussin, Wade Pacheco, Troy Sinha, Carson Edwards, Kennet Pipe, Alexander Spilde, Maverick Hall, Ali Ramadhan and Joe Taylor. Advised by Engineering Professor Daniel Codd, the SAE Mini Baja project is being sponsored by Solid Works, the SAE, Briggs and Stratton and the Taylor Foundation.

Being the third year competing, this year's team seeks to build their version of the vehicle taking into account feedback and lessons learned from the previous two teams' efforts. The team continues to actively fundraise to cover material and travel costs, such as airfare and the cost of shipping the vehicle to the competition, that weren't a concern the first two times.

A second project on a slightly smaller scale than the Mini Baja is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Human-Powered Vehicle Challenge. A team of six, Jackson Field, Caleb Kramer, Jeffrey LaRocco, Connor Maliesky and Marco Pantoja, will design a recumbent bicycle with a fairing, powerful drivetrain and an alternator to power lighting and analysis systems. The competition will take place March 23 in a yet-to-be-disclosed location in California. This project is being supported by Associated Students, the engineering school and the ASME San Diego Section.

Beyond those racing-oriented projects, a number of projects that give students the chance to solve a company's needs, such as what the team of Hana Almunayes, Fola Saliu, Sergio Samaniego and Eamon Schaney are doing with the Solar Turbines Enclosure Door. Their creation will correct a safety hazard for the company.

The Thermo Fisher De-Labeling Machine, created by students Thunder Braun, Huan Nguyen, Kendall Slaught and Vincenzo Torre, will make the company's plant in Rockford, Ill., more efficient, saving the company manual labor time and money. The machine will remove the task of removing hundreds of labels from antibody vials by hand each day.

A Radar Weather Simulator is being devised by Laura Becerra, Tabitha Ary, Emil Crestian and Gabriel Kong for General Atomics. Their device will modify a radar signal according to input weather conditions.

Entrepreneurially represented on Friday were five projects — Breathe Easy Fans, Cold Shoulder Cooler, Hive Soundz, MOVE (Mobility, Opportunity, Versatility, Empowerment) and Shot Timer — who are each under the School of Engineering's Renaissance Initiative. Each of these projects are connected to Engineering Professor Venkat Shastri. One of the projects, MOVE, is a next-step project to build upon last year's pit latrine aid project to support landmine survivors living in Uganda.

Other engineering projects that will be interesting for all to follow as students work toward completion include a group that is building a large format 3D Printer for a fraction of the cost to do so; a prosthetic hand that is being built specifically for a child between ages 6-10; and a Smart Bicycle Airbag, which is meant to provide safety for all bike riders beyond just the mandatory helmet.

All of these projects and more will be developed over the next few months. All projects will again be on display — both the posters and physical projects — and students will present them at the Engineering and Computing Showcase Friday, May 11, from 2:30-5 p.m. throughout the first floor of Loma Hall.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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