Design Day on April 30 will be an interactive, virtual environment

Students work on a prototype of a robotic elephant calf for the Nashville Zoo.

Senior Design Day 2021 will highlight dozens of problem-solving projects developed over the 2020-21 academic year by teams of students, though the format is a bit different this year.

The annual celebration and showcase of ingenuity will take place in a custom, interactive virtual environment and feature video presentations by student teams. The online Design Day Pavilion will be open all day Friday, April 30. Project presentations will stream from noon to 5 p.m. on discipline-specific channels.

On April 30, the venue and presentation streams can be accessed via Design Day.

“The year certainly presented challenges for collaborative teamwork, but our students, faculty advisers and sponsors met those challenges head-on and delivered wonderfully creative solutions to their real world design problems,” said Thomas Withrow, assistant dean for design
and associate professor of the practice of mechanical engineering. “Their dedication and resilience shows.”

One team is retrofitting a wheelchair with a handlebar and controls for those with limited use of their hands.

Teams designed a small, robotic elephant calf for the Nashville Zoo, a remote telescope for telemedicine cardiology appointments, a biofeedback training system for Major League Baseball players, and a mixed-use shipping container development for Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.

They devised a field-expedient splint so Army medics with limited space in their packs can carry more than one device when they respond to improvised explosive device attacks and other incidents. Student teams created apps for school-parent communication, random dating ideas, and finding and evaluating potential roommates.

In all, the day will feature nearly 50 projects by teams in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science and, for the first time, engineering science.

Other projects include:

  • A sustainable, multi-use shipping container development for the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood of Nashville
  • A mobile system for treating hydraulic fracturing wastewater
  • An interactive game-based approach for cognitive testing
  • A breathalyzer for diagnosing metabolic and infectious diseases

The virtual setting this year adds another new dimension to one of the traditional highlights of students’ undergraduate engineering education, Withrow said. It also opens up the event to family, friends, alumni, community members and even future students.

“The virtual setting will give everyone interested an easy way to extend the presentations so that they can attend from anywhere in the world,” he said.

Sponsors this year include the Nashville Zoo, Nashville Civic Design Center, Root Nashville/Cumberland River Compact, Nissan North America, Polymer and Chemical Technologies, Sterling Ranch Development Company, Permobil, two state of Tennessee agencies, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and NAVSEA.

Multiple Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center departments sponsored projects and provided advisers as well.