Design experience counts for engineering seniors and their clients

Engineering seniors have spent two semesters tackling design challenges from actual clients with real design needs.

The results of their design projects will be featured at Senior Design Day 2013, an annual School of Engineering event, Friday, April 19, 3-5 p.m. in Featheringill Hall.

Corporate sponsors this year include Camgian Microsystems, DENSO, MAX Mobility, Nissan North America, Northrop Grumman, Oreck, Roche Diagnostics, Spirit Aerosystems, Trane Corporation and Universal Robotics. Other sponsors include NASA, Oak Ridge National Lab, a number of Vanderbilt University Medical Center departments and several area engineering firms.

More than 60 projects by interdisciplinary teams in biomedical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, engineering management and mechanical engineering will be displayed throughout Featheringill Hall.

An integrated sensing system tracks doorway entry and hand sanitization to record and improve hand hygiene compliance.

One interdisciplinary team is developing a business plan and improving a real-time sensing system used at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to evaluate foam dispensers usage when entering patient rooms. The biomedical and engineering management students are assessing the value and performance of the system to potentially market the device.

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.

The design team was asked to engineer a more efficient internal airflow path, an improved dirt agitation system and a dust compaction system.

Sponsored by Oreck, a chemical and mechanical engineering team is developing a more efficient internal airflow path for vacuum cleaners using NASA developed software. In addition, the team aims to improve the dirt agitation system and dust compaction system.

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

Working with CH2M Hill, civil and environmental engineering students are using the rediscovered underground source of Cockrill Spring to help transform Nashville’s Centennial Park. Their goal is to keep the water on site so that it can be used for irrigation to fill the park lakes and contribute to water features in the park.

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 2012-2013 faculty advisers are Bob Webster, mechanical engineering; Matthew Walker III, biomedical engineering; Ken Debelak and Russell Dunn, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Sanjiv Gokhale, civil engineering; Ralph Bruce, electrical engineering; and John Bers, engineering management. Associate dean Cynthia Paschal serves as senior design coordinator.