Students show off their projects at the 2024 Senior Design Show in the Schoenecker Center.
Brandon Woller ’17/University of St. Thomas

Tommie Engineering Solutions on Show at Schoenecker Center

Growing up in Rwanda, Mellissa Ingabire never imagined she’d one day be living in Minnesota collaborating with a medical device company. But that’s just the experience she received working on her Senior Design Clinic project with her fellow mechanical engineering classmates at the University of St. Thomas.

Doctors and medical professionals help people live healthy and happy lives. Who looks out for them? Ingabire and her team aim to do just that. 

Partnering with medical device developers Nextern, she joined with Maria Ramos and Jacob Schewe to create the RASCL project. The project is developing a disposable electromechanical catheter, aiming to reduce exposure to radiation by allowing doctors to work behind a barrier. 

Mellissa Ingabire
Mellissa Ingabire

The technology would be pioneering – aiding doctors and medical professionals’ ability to work more accurately in delicate environments. Ingebire is no stranger to pioneering efforts. Inspired by exhibits at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, she is bringing methods to engage kids in science back to her hometown Kigali this summer.  

“I kept thinking what can I do for these children? There is this library and I’m going to go teach some Legos and robotics and coding programming and fun engineering stuff with kids,” she said. 

The art of engineering allows students to dream big. These dreams were on full display as students and industry professionals cooperated in the Senior Design Clinic.  

The 35 teams participating have completed a two-semester design clinic, where they generate ideas, develop approaches, make prototypes and complete rigorous testing. Projects are diverse, but all aim at creating real change. For MnDOT, teams designed remote stream gauge sensors to help monitor flooding near roadways. Meanwhile, Locally Laid Egg Company sponsored students in developing aids to alleviate water shortage in agriculture.       

The event was hosted in the Schoenecker Center, an engineering marvel on its own. The new building is home to STEAM education at St. Thomas, including science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Harboring everything from a performance hall to a test lab, the Schoenecker Center features careful engineering to satisfy the vast different departmental needs.  

Students show off their projects at the 2024 Senior Design Clinic in the Schoenecker Center on May 10, 2024, in St. Paul. (Brandon Woller ’17/University of St. Thomas)

The Engineering Senior Design Clinic presents an exciting opportunity for students to tackle real-world engineering challenges brought forth by industry and community partners. This year’s projects included partnerships with Xcel Energy, Winnebago, Medtronic, Northrop Grumman and others.  

Fortunate for the St. Thomas community, Ingabire will return as a graduate student in the highly competitive New Product Tech Venture Fellowship Program. Receiving a full scholarship, she will serve as an entrepreneur on her own project while working closely with industry professionals.  

“That’s my biggest dream. Seeing things that I make come to life and inspire young girls to be engineers,” she said, describing her perspective on the years ahead. 

The project taught Ingabire the art of adaptation. Facing changes in scope and requirements, the team had to be flexible. 

“It would have been easy to give up, but we kept going. I think that’s the biggest lesson; understanding that you have to be flexible. Everywhere things change, and you have to adapt to what’s changing,” she said. 

Students pose for a photo at the 2024 Senior Design Clinic. (Brandon Woller ’17/University of St. Thomas)

2023-24 Projects 

Fall/Spring Senior Design Teams 

  1. Snowmelt Water Analysis Tool – Bolton & Menk 
  1. Horquetas Costa Rica Wastewater Treatment Facility – Global Water Stewardship 
  1. Inlet Stack Improvements – Safran Test Cells 
  1. Stream Gauge Sensor – MnDOT 
  1. Medical Device Laser Welding – Medtronic 
  1. Atmospheric Water Generator – Locally Laid Egg Company 
  1. Filter Bench Test Setup – Boston Scientific 
  1. Fatigue Testing Machine – Twin City Fan 
  1. Advanced Wear Simulator – Trane 
  1. Protection From a Battery Fire – Burns & McDonnell 
  1. Black Box 2.0 – Ergotron 
  1. Protein Folding Platform – Bio-Techne 
  1. Polystyrene Pre-Expander – Northrop Grumman 
  1. KEB Brake Torque Tester – KEB America 
  1. Low Power Explosion-Proof Meter Display – Emerson Electric Co, Rosemount Inc. 
  1. Fibrex Part Detection – Renewal by Andersen 

Summer/Fall Senior Design Teams 

  1. Coffee Bean Quality Analyzer – Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development 
  1. Fremont County Waste Transfer Station – Burns & McDonnell 
  1. Clear Water Denitrifying Bioreactor (Carbon Injector) – Clear Water Nitrate Reduction 
  1. Flow Screen Improvements – Safran Test Cells 
  1. Laser Measurement System for Horizontal Jumps – University of St. Thomas Track and Field Team