Hundreds of students, their family and friends, and faculty and staff descended on the Anderson Student Center on Friday for the 2018 School of Engineering Senior Design Show.
More than 100 mechanical and electrical engineering students across 26 teams showed off the results of their yearlong work: tangible product prototypes for company and nonprofit organization partners. Those partners came to each team at the beginning of the year with a simple problem statement, and students rose to the real-world challenge of creating their own solutions from scratch.
"It is such a great experience for moving into the real world of engineering," said senior Nikk Sorenson, whose team developed a steam reclamation product for Accraply. "You're put into this difficult situation where you get the customer's requirements, then have to turn it into engineering requirements and create a real product."
Aided by faculty advisers for each team, that yearlong process is exactly the kind of experience that prepares students to make an impact in their careers.
"Where the comforts of well-defined textbook problems are abandoned, real engineering emerges," dean Don Weinkauf said. "What you see here is the manifestation of that uncertain process of translating ideas into reality."
The range of ideas-made-reality is massive, from a multifunctional patient monitoring device for 3M to a handheld molecule analyzer for "Company Confidential."Included in the projects was a team designing a Basic Utility Vehcile; their design landed second place and most innovative award in an annual national competition to design low cost-high performance vehicles for the developing world.
The team of Noe Martinez-Alquicira, Michael VanDeVoorde, Jean-Claude Sessou and Emily Whitwam developed a wearable EEG monitor to monitor brain activity for Medibotics, and went through six design iterations before their final product.
"It was a lot of work but incredibly rewarding," Whitwam said. "All the engineers here are very grateful for this real-world experience ... and the chance to have an impact outside of St. Thomas while we're still here."
"I've been referencing this project a lot in interviews," Sessou added. "It's great to have this experience."