Past Design Day Projects

Design Day 2023 Catalog

2023 Design Day Projects

Design Day Project Archive

Each year, the School of Engineering publishes a catalog of projects presented at Design Day.

Here are electronic versions of previous year catalogs.

Spotlight: Our 2023 Design Day

Spotlight: Our 2023 Design Day

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.

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.

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

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.

Real Clients, Real Work

The projects also promote teamwork that simulates the workplace. Vanderbilt was ahead of many other engineering schools in its implementation of senior design. The consistent success of senior design projects attracts companies and individuals who ask student teams to turn problems into solutions.

The multidisciplinary Senior Design Seminar occurs in the fall. It explores ethics; budgeting; patents, trademarks and licensure; job hunting; career development; contracting; discrimination and liability; and risk assessment and reduction. The seminar also features speakers on professional subjects essential to the practicing engineer.

Also during the fall semester, students and Design Day projects are matched. Interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged, with teams of three to six students working on each project. For example, a biomedical engineering student might work on an electrical or mechanical engineering project. Some students also elect to complete an engineering management capstone project in their own discipline.

Then research and innovation begin. Faculty meet with students throughout the process to assess team ideas, advise and make recommendations. Even so, each team is responsible for its own dynamics, research, design development and solutions. It all culminates in a spring event known as Design Day.

Engineers don't work in a vacuum in the professional world. Knowing how to assemble a team of collaborators who can pull together in a high stakes setting, communicate with bosses, work with clients and get the job done is what matters. Industry doesn't work in silos of specialization and neither do the students. They learn early that cohesion, collaboration and healthy conflict are where creativity and problem solving are found.

Faculty members from appropriate disciplines serve as design advisers and teach courses. They bring approaches tailored to the skills and projects relevant to their areas.

Vanderbilt's engineering management program contributes business plan development, commercialization and product development strategies. Its advisers emphasize budgeting, deadlines and managerial basics such as cost-effective purchasing. Many employers favor Vanderbilt engineers because of the management fundamentals they learn in developing their design projects and through the school's engineering management minor.

By graduation, Vanderbilt engineering seniors are prepared to hit the ground running. They have the skills and the practical experience that set our engineering students apart.

Behind Student Design Day