VCU Presents Senior Design Expo 2010
On Friday, the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering will present Senior Design Expo 2010. A Science Matters report by John Ogle.
Thirty-five teams of engineering students will share their research and design prototypes with the public.
Jamison. Every year the senior class in Engineering has a semester-long project by which teams of students apply the knowledge that they’ve learned over four years to make something.
Dr. Russ Jamison is the Dean of the VCU School of Engineering.
Jamison: This year we’ve decided that in partnership with the Science Museum of Virginia, we’re going to have a larger venue, more accessible to school children and residents of the city of Richmond, to get an idea of what goes on inside a school of engineering and what these students are capable of doing with their education.
The Expo will be set up in the Rotunda and several nearby rooms at the Science Museum on West Broad Street.
Jamison: As we’re speaking here this is a Wednesday morning. I suspect that the teams are very aggressively making their project come into fruition. It’s kind of like the Rose Parade: a lot of work gets done in the last two weeks. But I’ve got a few examples here for you that I think are examples of almost all the projects, which are really kind of fun and make sense to people who see products coming out of companies. One of the projects is gonna be what the team is calling a “next-generation rollercoaster.” This is a system by which the seats on the rollercoaster not only are fixed on the track but they have a sideways programmed motion, so that as the rider experiences the up and down of the rollercoaster they also have this lateral movement, which is gonna give, according to the team, a much wilder ride.
There’s also a “human tracking” robot.
Jamison: The idea is for surveillance of either of bad guys or dogs or children, where someone wants to watch the motions and sound an alarm as the robot observes the motions inside a room or inside a yard. There’s also a project a low-cost sustainable model home. A lot of home-building products are not completely green, so this team is looking at the sort of habitat that would be suitable to replace dwellings in an earthquake-devastated area, using post consumer products, like tin cans and Styrofoam. So they want to create a kit which can be sent to these areas to produce quick shelter in a sustainable, material way.
Another team is working on a nuclear power simulator.
Jamison: And it will be a control panel simulator for students and the public to get a sense of how a nuclear power plant operates and what happens if there is a problem, how is the function of the plant communicated via electronic simulator boards to what‘s going on inside the plant.
One hundred and fifty middle and high school students have been invited to the Expo.
Jamison: We think it’s important for the nation that middle school children in particular get a sense of why one would want to study engineering. Engineering is perceived to be a hard thing and in some regards it is a hard thing, but the rewards of being able to make something are just remarkable. So, our students will be standing by to talk to them, explain it in language that a school child will understand.
The Senior Design Expo opens at 9:30 Friday morning and it runs until 3:00 in the afternoon.
Jamison: We want to push out the work that VCU does into the community, because this thrust is a great example of kind of return on investment. We’re a public institution: what are we doing to make life better for people in the country and in the world?
John Ogle, WCVE News