Seniors show off real-world design solutions for corporate sponsors at Senior Design Day April 19


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Senior engineering students are challenged to solve real-world design issues for university and corporate sponsors during a two-semester design course. Students will share results with their clients and the Vanderbilt community at Senior Design Day, April 19, from 3-5 p.m. in Featheringill Hall.

Engineering seniors have spent two semesters tackling design challenges from actual corporations with real design needs. Corporate sponsors this year include Nissan, Denso, U.S. Department of Energy, GAF, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Roche, and several area engineering firms.

Interdisciplinary teams in biomedical engineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering and computer engineering, engineering management and mechanical engineering have worked on more than 50 projects.

Projects by biomedical engineering, electrical engineering and computer engineering, engineering management and mechanical engineering teams will be displayed throughout first floor of Featheringill Hall April 19. Projects by chemical and biomolecular engineering and civil engineering will be presented at other events.

Projects include a low-cost smartphone-adapted endoscope. The design consists of a scope that can be connected to any Android device and operated using the team’s designed Android application. The scope is a flexible conduit with data transfer capabilities and a live video feed provided by a small camera module on its terminating end. Such a diagnostic tool could be used in clinical and emergency settings, especially in resource-constrained communities.

Other projects include:
•    A vertical wheelchair seat that allows users to descend to ground level for activities that require sitting on the floor. (sponsored by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology)
•    A remote electric metering software design to allow power measurements without the need for direct meter reading.  (sponsored by Schneider Electric)
•    Determination of root-cause-solution for rare, intermittent noise in Nissan Maxima door assemblies (sponsored by Nissan North America)
•    The electric conversion of a vintage DeLorean DMC-12 car. (sponsored by Jonn Kim, GaN Corp., the car’s owner)

Vertical wheelchair seat

Students will install their presentations from 1-3 p.m. Several juries will review the projects during the final two hours.

The work done in senior design is the intellectual property of the participating companies, which means legal negotiations are unnecessary. This allows collaboration with participating companies and students gain real-world experience.

Teams meet with their clients to define the challenge, create a strategy, build a timeline, assign responsibilities, set deadlines and manage customer relations.

Students usually get to work on a project they prefer. “Occasionally, some get drafted,” says Joel Barnett, associate professor of mechanical engineering and senior design faculty adviser. “If they end up working on something they don’t like at first or are unfamiliar with, well, we say, ‘Welcome to the real world of work.’

“These projects often turn out to be some of the best, since the team is working in areas that are new to them,” he said.

Other 2011-2012 faculty advisers are Joel Barnett, mechanical engineering; Matthew Walker III, biomedical engineering; Ken Debelak, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Sanjiv Gokhale, civil engineering; A.B. Bonds, electrical and computer engineering; and John Bers, engineering management.