Fairfield Engineers Pitch Solutions to Local Tech Firms
At the end of April, seniors in the School of Engineering (SOE) pitched their senior design projects to their fellow students, professors and industry mentors such as Precision Combustion, Inc. of New Haven, CT, ASML of Wilton, CT, Covidien LP, Northeast Laser & Electropolish of Monroe, CT, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Among some of the projects was a device that makes drug testing more humane, a system that helps make air traffic control safer and a machine that makes jewlery manufacturing more efficient.
The teams worked for two full semesters and through multiple design phases to develop their plans and in some cases, prototypes. The student teams, from four undergraduate engineering programs (computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and software engineering) received funding for their research and development through the Hardiman-Lawrence research funding endowment and other professional mentors.
“Outside organizations approach us with a problem and the students groups are assigned these projects to work with a mentor from the outside organization,” said Sriharsha Srinivas Sundarram, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and faculty mentor to a student team that worked on creating a micro bioreactor array for tissue engineering applications.
The ten student teams had to apply either to the University or to an outside company with a formal proposal for acceptance before beginning research and weren’t allowed to use any pre-build kits or plans. But, it’s working together as a team that has the most challenges and rewards.
“Working on a team helps the students to prepare for real world of engineering,” Dr. Sundarram continued. “All engineering projects worldwide are done in a team environment with each individual taking leadership of a certain aspect of the project. Also, teams are interdisciplinary, that is we have mechanical, software, electrical engineers on the same team as majority of products being brought to the market are multifunctional.”
The senior design team projects were, experimental and numerical investigation of advanced fluidized bed - spouted reactor with advisors S. Etemad, PhD, M. Safari, PhD and B. Baird, PhD, (Precision Combustion, Inc.); micromouse design and development with advisor U. Balaji, PhD; a quiet shop vacuum with advisor J. Denenberg, PhD; micro bioreactor array for tissue engineering applications with advisor S. Sundarram, PhD; wear free transfer of electrical power and fluids to translating stages Dr. S. Etemad and A. Judge, PhD, (ASML); suture diameter measurement system R. Munden, PhD, and J. Festa (Medtronic, Inc); automated unpacking system for jewelry charms with advisors M. Zabinski, PhD, and R. Rossilli (Northeast Laser & Electropolish); robust kernel-based object tracking with multiple kernel centers with D. Belfadel, PhD; aircraft conflict resolution cataloger with Ad. Rusu, PhD, and M. Paglione (Federal Aviation Administration); ferrofluid windmill with Dr. R. Munden and Dr. A. Judge (ASML).
Adrian Rusu, PhD, professor and chair of electrical and computer systems engineering and a project mentor, said of the design project stipulations, meeting customer specifications is most important.
“The critical aspect of a successful presentation is project completion on time and within budget.”
After the presentations, the students’ work lives on in multiple ways: if they are sponsored by an outside organization, that organization will work on finishing up the actual system and then implement in their process; some projects still need refinement and the SOE will run it as a project for one more year to develop a final working product; or some students participate in the annual Fairfield Start Up Showcase where there is a chance of investors fully funding their projects and market accessibility.
(top) Winning project team that worked on wear free transfer of electrical power and fluids to translating stages with mentor from ASML in Wilton, CT, Dr. A Judge.
(right) Micro bioreactor array for tissue engineering applications prototype.
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