Class for freshman engineers needs your ideas for service projects

Once again, the Biological Systems Engineering Department is looking for ideas for potential community service projects than can be undertaken by students in InterEgr 160, Introduction to Engineering. This course introduces students to some basic engineering principles, allows them to explore different engineering disciplines, and introduces them to problem solving through a design project — all while providing a service role.

Since these are freshman engineers, the problems cannot be too complex or technically demanding. What’s needed are handyman-type projects — problems that lend themselves to a solution that can be designed and built or implemented by the students in the course and which meet a real need.

The affiliation of the client needing the project is not important, but the client must be willing to interact with the students to define the problem and answer any questions that might arise. The client is also invited to attend the final presentation and is welcome to make use of the students’ solution.

In previous years, a significant number of the course projects (there will be 20 this year) have come from CALS faculty and staff. The projects can be university- related or done at the behest of a community group (e.g. volunteer fire departments, food pantries, environmental groups). Each project has a $300 budget. If more support is required, clients may have to supplement ($300 is usually enough).

Examples of CALS related projects done in the past include a mobile feeding system for calves, a turf traffic simulator, vegetable washing and packing aids for farmers who direct market, a potato sampler/slicer, a soil elevator for the greenhouses, a fruit fly anesthetizer, mixing system for vaccine, a bug vacuum, a dairy facility gate design and a turf plot sprayer and a turf strength tester.

Please mail your ideas for project to Dick Straub, Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering, 460 Henry Mall, or email them to Please download the project request form and send your project suggestions by August 1, 2008.