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March 29, 2007
Candice Bauer led University mechanical engineering students competing in an international design contest to recently place second for their version of a fishing rod and reel that quadriplegics can operate orally.
Bauer, the students' mechanical engineering lecturer, became the youngest American Society of Mechanical Engineers vice president ever elected in its 127-year-old-history. At 27, Bauer has been involved with the organization since she was an undergraduate at Nevada and she encourages all her students to join.
"I'm very interested in the professional development opportunities provided by ASME," said Bauer. "For example, the committee on ethical standards and review provides training sessions for companies from Whirlpool to Entergy to Hughes Christensen. It's also very beneficial to bring the information we learn back to the University to further benefit our students and the community.
The ASME student design competition finals held in Chicago included students from 14 universities who designed unique electro-mechanical devices that allow physically challenged individuals to cast and reel a fishing line. Nevada faced competition from 117 entries represented by 73 universities around the world.
"It was a perfect example of how mechanical engineers solve problems," said student Scott Waters. "We were essentially given a problem, some rules, and a deadline, and we took it from there. It was a great chance to get some hands-on design and manufacturing experience, and I was very fortunate to have guys like Karl, Steve and Ryan in my group. Karl was especially good at coming up with innovative solutions whenever we hit a brick wall."
Along with Waters, mechanical engineering students Karl Schulz, Ryan Timmerman and Steve Rikalo utilized a "sip and puff" input controller commonly used to maneuver wheelchairs and simulated by switches mounted on the rod and reel. The student design competition required students to cast a simulated lure and attempt to hit targets at varying distances. The distances from the targets were measured with the lowest score winning. Other judging criteria included cost-effectiveness, testing methodology and reliability.
The Student Design Contest was held in conjunction with the 2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, which brings engineers and scientists together to discuss and demonstrate advanced technology. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization promoting the art, science and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences.
ASME develops codes and standards that enhance public safety, and provides lifelong learning and technical exchange opportunities benefiting the engineering and technology community. "I really believe that engineering students have a lot to gain by participating in group projects like ASME's," said Waters. "One can only learn so much sitting in a classroom, after all." Waters said the project would not have been possible without sponsorship from Sierra Nevada Corporation in Sparks and LSP Products Group in Carson City.