Engineering seniors present capstone projects at annual Design Day event, April 24

A team of engineering seniors has designed an embedded thermoelectric generator to convert that wavy shimmer of heat that rises from hot asphalt—waste heat radiation—into electrical energy. To protect soldiers’ hands from heat burns while rappelling from helicopters, another team has created ‘fast rope’ insertion gloves.

These design projects and 52 more will be on display at the Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s Design Day 2023, Monday, April 24, from 5-7 p.m. in Featheringill Hall. Student teams will demonstrate their projects to external judges as well as to those who attend. Several design prizes will be awarded at the end of the spring semester.

Seniors have spent the 2022-2023 academic year on multifaceted capstone projects that serve as a culminating academic experience for engineering students. Design Day is open to the public. The Design Day catalog table of contents features interactive links to projects’ descriptions.

A white-cheeked gibbon is using a collar puzzle feeder, one of four primate enrichment devices designed by Vanderbilt engineering seniors. Photo/Taran McGee

The Nashville Zoo is a perennial sponsor of design projects. This year, mechanical engineering teams designed several enrichment devices for animals. One is constructed of durable woven firehose designed to resemble prey for the Sumatran tigers and Andean bears to attack, drag and bite. A second team designed four feeders for the white-cheeked gibbons and the siamangs to curb overeating and eating too quickly. Two are puzzle-based feeders to challenge intellectual development. One includes a timing device to release food throughout the day and another forces the primates to use a lever that scatters food, which promotes foraging.

Biomedical engineering teams have tackled issues of ICU alarm fatigue, an inexpensive point-of-care device to offer a quick analysis of sickle cell disease samples, and an augmented reality app for surgical guidance and training. A chemical engineering team designed and optimized a 3D-printed prosthetic finger. A team in electrical and computer engineering created an app to collect trademark data.

“Design courses provide students with experience working on real-world projects that involve design constraints, budgets, reviews and deadlines. Students learned about professionalism, teamwork, entrepreneurship, and resilience,” said Thomas Withrow, assistant dean for design and associate professor of the practice of mechanical engineering. “Our design events have always been a celebration of all the lessons learned during their engineering educations.”

Capital One is a supporting sponsor of Design Day. Design projects were completed in partnership with a multitude of companies and institutions, including Nissan North America, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Barge Design Solutions, Sterling Ranch Development Company, Booz Allen, Gresham Smith, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City Division, the U.S. Army, and many more. Multiple Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center departments sponsored projects and provided advisers as well.

Contact: Brenda Ellis