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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


College of Engineering showcases senior talent

Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Computer engineering majors Andrew Weatherly and Electrical engineering major Chris Featherstone present their project, a Rube Goldberg Machine. Their project was part of presentations giving by engineering students at the Student Union Memorial Ballroom. Over 50 projects were on display during the event which took place on May 3, 2011.

More than 50 design projects were displayed to showcase the talents of engineering seniors at the 2011 Engineering Design Day on Tuesday.

The showcase was held in the Student Union Memorial Center’s Grand Ballroom, and larger projects were displayed at the outdoor amphitheater on the north side of the union.

Ara Arabyan, the associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering who oversaw the event, said that the showcase aimed to familiarize the public with what engineering seniors can do. The objective of the event, sponsored the UA College of Engineering, was to train participants for real life experiences and prototypes, he said.

The showcase displayed projects from engineering seniors who worked to design and execution their projects throughout the entire school year. The ideas for their projects, however, came from companies and manufacturers who managed and helped fund the projects.

David Montgomery, a senior studying optical sciences and engineering, was asked to develop a wireless link between a patient and monitor in the anesthesia room along with five of his fellow teammates. The objective of this, he said, was to increase efficiency. Instead of taking three to four minutes to hook up wires, the sensors pick up anywhere in the hospital in about 30 seconds to one minute, according to Montgomery.

“”Time is money,”” he said.

Other projects, like the one of Nathan Sandoval, a computer engineering senior, and Amber McManaman, an electrical engineering senior, aimed to integrate autopilot into a micro-air vehicle. They did so using various sensors, including an external GPS, wireless modem and an R/C receiver.

Sandoval said the goal of their project was to create an autonomous air view. During the fall semester, he and his team planned the project and spent the spring semester designing.

“”We put the final work into the plane last night,”” he said. “”We would have probably appreciated even more time.””

McManaman said the project included a lot of trial and error, and that making all of the components work together was the most difficult part.

Engineering Design Day cost about $20,000 to put on, and sponsors of the projects paid the majority of the overhead with help from the College of Engineering. At the end of the event, about 15 cash awards were allotted to various individuals and teams. Arabyan invited about 60 different unpaid judges to help determine the winners.

Some students, like biosystems engineering senior Kathryn Allen, said they had challenges working with the manufacturers because they misunderstood the students’ initial designs. Allen and her group, however, secured insurance on their initial prototype, which was an inflatable valve to block flow in gated irrigation pipes.

Her client was originally using butterfly valves to block flow, however, debris would get in and the pipes couldn’t close. Allen’s inflatable valve successfully prevented bottom water leakage.

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