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students at design open day
Hundreds of engineering seniors throng the student union ballroom to learn about capstone projects.

Engineering Seniors Pick Interdisciplinary Capstone Design Projects

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Engineering Seniors Pick Interdisciplinary Capstone Design Projects

Sept. 9, 2008
Fifty teams vie for projects spanning brainwave activity alarms to energy-deflecting building envelopes.

More than 250 engineering seniors gathered in the student union ballroom Aug. 28 to meet sponsors from senior capstone projects.

Representatives from industry, faculty and student clubs gave talks and presentations about the approximately 70 capstone projects available for seniors to choose from. The finished projects will be presented at Engineering Design Day in May 2009.

Engineering Design Day is the annual celebration of technical excellence and creativity delivered by engineering students in response to real problems. Senior capstone projects are the heart of Engineering Design Day, at which seniors from throughout the College of Engineering present their capstone design projects, most of which are yearlong, real-world projects sponsored by industry or community clients.

Not only do seniors present their projects to fellow students, faculty and staff from the University of Arizona, and the general public, they also present to teams of judges from industry. Each year, over 50 practicing engineers donate a day of their time to judge the senior projects.

Just the Beginning

The 50 projects include a portable brain wave activity alarm, sponsored by Texas Instruments and designed to send a wireless signal on detection of certain brain wave activity. One possible application would be to detect the onset of sleep while driving and to alert the driver.

The Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy is sponsoring a capstone project to design an adaptive building envelope that absorbs or reflects energy to maintain the stability of a building’s interior temperature. Effective designs will become part of the sustainable design strategies showcased in the UA Solar Decathlon project to be demonstrated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October 2009.

To mark a decade of solar racing, and following its success in the 2008 American Solar Challenge, the UA Solar Car team wants to become the team to beat in 2009. The team has put forward three separate projects related to the development of a new solar-powered vehicle to be raced in summer 2009 in the Shell Eco Marathon Racing series.

The UA Baja Racing team has also made great strides in recent competitions, and is sponsoring a project to design new suspension for an off-road utility vehicle that will compete in static and dynamic events against more than 120 universities.