After months of brainstorming, building and testing,
teams of engineering undergraduates put
their projects on display last week at two daylong Design
Although senior design or capstone projects are a
common assignment in the Whiting School,
two of the most elaborate showcases for these student
inventions are traditionally organized by the
Biomedical Engineering and
Engineering departments. This year, their events took
consecutive days on the Homewood campus.
Projects ranged from the microscopic (stem cell-
carrying surgical thread) to the mammoth (a
device to help utility crews position a power pole).
Edward Scheinerman, the Whiting School's vice dean for
education, says he is impressed by
what the students can accomplish. "All of our departments
have some type of capstone projects like
these, where the students get to apply the things they've
learned from their lectures and textbooks,"
he said. "Engineering is about being creative. These
projects give students a chance to design and
build. This is the experience we've being building up
Design teams differ among departments. Biomedical
Engineering teams typically include nine or
10 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Mechanical
Engineering teams usually include three or
four students, all seniors.
By working on these inventions, participants gain
real-world experience in topics such as team
organization, budgeting, design, manufacturing, testing and
developing a long-range business plan.
Projects are usually sponsored by industrial
companies, nonprofit organizations and researchers
in other university divisions, including the
Laboratory and the Bloomberg School of
Center for Injury Research and Policy.
In some cases, student inventions that emerge from
these design courses have served as
prototypes for commercial products or as devices to assist
people with disabilities. Depending on
sponsorship arrangements, some students have retained
patent rights or received inventor's credit.
At last week's events, team members presented
technical reports and fielded audience
questions in a Hodson Hall lecture hall. They also
participated in poster sessions and demonstrated
their work to fellow students, faculty members, alumni and
other visitors. Teams of judges selected
the top three projects for each design day.
For Biomedical Engineering Design Day, the top award
went to a team that developed a way to
place stem cells in surgical thread to speed healing after
tendon surgery. Second- and third-place
honors went respectively to projects called "Stem Cell
Immobilization for Orthopedic Surgery" and
"Improving Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy."
For Mechanical Engineering Design Day, the first-place
award went to the Project BORN2FOLD
team, which developed a paper-folding mechanism for a
Pitney Bowes machine. In second place was the
Project ASTRO team, which built a system to help a
"throwable robot" climb stairs. The third-place
winner was the Project DIAPER team, which designed
enhancements to help parents avoid errors when
they install child safety seats in vehicles.