Novice engineers looking for problems to solve

Dick Straub, professor in the biological systems engineering department, is looking for ideas for projects for novice engineers enrolled in InterEgr 160, Introduction to Engineering. The course teaches students basic engineering principles and problem-solving skills as they explore different engineering disciplines.

The problems have to be simple, handyman-type projects that lend themselves to a solution that can be designed and built or implemented by the freshman students in the course and also meet a real need. A total of about 20 projects are needed.

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

In previous years, a significant number of the projects have come at the behest of CALS faculty and staff. The projects can be related to the university or to a other service or charitable group. Students have a $300 budget. Clients can supplement that, but that’s usually not necessary.

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 to Jennifer Binzley as indicated on this project request form.

Please send your project suggestions by August 1.