Freshmen engineers seek problem-solving projects

I am an instructor for InterEgr 160 (formerly EPD 160), Introduction to Engineering, as part of an effort to maintain the visibility of our  Biological Systems Engineering program to freshman engineering students.  This course introduces students to basic engineering principles and allows them to explore different engineering disciplines. Students in the course also undertake a design project, which introduces them to problem-solving and provides a service role to the community.

I am asking for your help in identifying projects.

Since these are freshman engineers, the problems can not be too complex or technically demanding. We’re looking for “handyman” projects that lend themselves to a solution that can be designed and built or implemented by the students in the course and 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.  If a project has been chosen, the client is also invited to see the final presentation and will be the recipient of the solution the students build.

In previous years, as many as one-third of the course projects have come  from CALS faculty and staff.  Clients can be a UW program, an individual or  a service or charitable group. Each project selected has $300 as a budget.  If the project cost more than that, the client may choose to 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 direct market farmers, 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. Last year my section did a row marker system for Horticulture and a caterpillar housing system with a temperature gradient for Microbiology.

If you have questions, email me  or to Amit Nimunkar as indicated on the request form.  We would prefer to have your suggestions by July 25, but we will accept proposals until about August 10.  Later requests will be considered for the spring semester.

A project request form is available here.

Dick Straub
Chair, Biological Systems Engineering