Needed: Hands-on projects for freshman engineers

Dick Straub, chair of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, is soliciting help in identifying service projects for InterEgr 160, Introduction to Engineering. This course teaches students basic engineering principles and problem-solving skills as they explore different engineering disciplines.

Since the students are freshman engineers,  the problems cannot be too complex or technically demanding. Straub describes them as “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 also meet a real need.

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 see the final presentation and will receive the students’ solution to the problem.

In previous years, a significant number of the course projects (there will be about 20 this year) have come from CALS/BSE faculty and staff. The projects can be related to the university or to some other service or charitable group. Students have a $300 budget. If the project requires more support than that, clients can supplement, but this is not the norm.

Examples of CALS-related projects in the past include a mobile feeding system for calves, a turf-traffic simulator, vegetable washing and packing aids for farmers that direct market, a potato sampler/slicer, a soil elevator for the greenhouses, a fruit fly anesthetizer, mixing system for vaccines and a bug vacuum. There have also been projects for service groups — volunteer fire departments, food pantries, environmental groups, etc.

Please forward this message to faculty, staff, or others who might have a potential project. Questions can be directed to Dick Straub ( or 890-0689 or 262-3311, or to Jennifer Binzley as indicated on the request form available at

Please send your project suggestions by August 1.