Innovation Day: the University’s engineering student inventions extravaganza

Senior engineering students share their capstone projects with locals at annual event

Visitors check out displays at engineering Innovation Day

Visitors explore the many student engineering wonders on display at this year's Senior Capstone Innovation Day

Innovation Day: the University’s engineering student inventions extravaganza

Senior engineering students share their capstone projects with locals at annual event

Visitors explore the many student engineering wonders on display at this year's Senior Capstone Innovation Day

Visitors check out displays at engineering Innovation Day

Visitors explore the many student engineering wonders on display at this year's Senior Capstone Innovation Day

Senior Capstone Innovation Day gave engineering students at the University of Nevada, Reno the opportunity to showcase their many new and interesting projects to local elementary and high school students as well as business people and guests May 6, 2016 at the Lawlor Events Center.

"I am very proud of our students and faculty as well as very grateful to the organizers of this event," College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis said. "Many of this year's projects are extremely innovative."

Large project posters adorned the cubicle walls that divided the two large Blue and Silver Rooms of Lawlor. Students from all five engineering departments used their accumulated knowledge and experience to create capstone projects, which were on display while the students shared and discussed their ideas with participants.

During the morning hours of the event, busloads of high school and elementary students arrived. The younger students excitedly pushed and bustled their way into the rooms to see what kinds of inventions the older students had developed.

"This event provides a great opportunity to share with local K-12 students the many concepts and ideas of engineering as well as get firsthand experience of what engineering can do in our lives - and the many professional opportunities engineering offers," said Maragakis.

At lunch the University students headed upstairs for pizza and a lecture from Dr. Ed Zschau, a Stanford, Harvard and Princeton professor, former Silicon Valley CEO, Venture Capitalist and State of California U.S. Congressman, who spoke of the importance of engineering and its impact on the future.

Later in the afternoon, local business people were invited to the event to discover the inventions the University's engineering students developed.

"This event is the perfect opportunity for local businesses to meet with students and see the quality of the workforce we are producing here at the University," said Maragakis. "Innovation Day is our chance to show the talent of these students as well as their ability to solve future research and development problems."

One group devised a machine to stretch fabric over a light, so one could easily discern its density. Another created a pole, wrapped in padding, which could measure the impact of a punch and record results onto an SD card. A group used vacuum-power to inflate latex gloves so they could be easily and sanitarily donned. Among the myriad other projects, there was a proposed way to simply convert one's cell phone into a virtual-reality headset, a bowling-pin re-setter and a custom tricycle steered with one's feet while powered by hand.

The nontraditional trike was created for a man with loss in leg strength who wanted to be able to commute by his own power. Team "Trike Me" took this situation and created a trike that would allow the user to pedal with their hands and steer with their feet - backwards, but effective with practice.

Other creations included a variety of apps created by the computer science department to solve some contemporary problems and needs. Electrical and biomedical engineering students tended to focus on water and alert-related themes, such as a shower with a built-in user interface, a plant watering system, a windshield warmer and an LED device that could display messages on an automobile's rear-window.

Mechanical engineering students created most of the more animated, visual projects, like the punch-pole and bowling pin re-setter. Civil engineering teams had grandiose plans for wastewater treatment and purification systems, as well as hosting the celebrity appearance of a few Concrete Canoe team members.

With just two teams, the department of chemical and materials engineering showcased methods for cell culture and purification as well as the means of removal of organic carbon from double refractory ore so that gold could be efficiently recovered in a sterilizer.

For more information on the annual event as well as the College of Engineering, please visit unr.edu/engineering.

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