Campus Notebook

Innovative engineering projects to be showcased virtually May 8

Northern Illinois University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology will host a virtual engineering fair May 8.
Northern Illinois University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology will host a virtual engineering fair May 8.

DeKALB – The public is invited to the first-ever virtual engineering fair hosted by Northern Illinois University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

From 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, May 8, visitors to the site go.niu.edu/SeniorDesignDay can explore the innovative projects that NIU seniors have been working on this year. 

Visitors can view the 87 teams’ abstracts and posters, and even join the teams in Microsoft Teams meeting chat rooms, where they can engage with students in real time, ask questions and learn about the projects.

Before graduating, engineering and engineering technology students form inter-disciplinary teams to take on real-world problems to create new products, improve existing products or improve industrial processes.

“The senior design program is a high point in our students’ education. They apply the knowledge they acquired in the classroom to bring together concepts, theories and construct a prototype or process,” Donald Peterson, dean of NIU’s CEET, said in a news release. “They also use problem-solving skills to work on open-ended, complex systems. Along the way, they are mentored by faculty and industry professionals. Senior design projects are often viewed as a student’s first professional achievement.”

The students would have displayed their projects at the Senior Design Day at the NIU Convocation Center. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order, the course was converted to a remote e-learning class and the fair to a virtual event.

“Huskies never quit,” Peterson said in the release. “And in that spirit, our students have persevered through the challenges of remote learning, and with their industry partners, have accomplished their goals. They’re creating innovative solutions to the real-world challenges that they were given.”

The senior design program is a course where students must research their problems, brainstorm ways to solve the problem and engage regularly with their faculty lead and industry sponsor for feedback and guidance. At the project’s conclusion, the seniors present their work to faculty and industry sponsors for a grade. Then, the projects are demonstrated to the public.

Some of the projects visitors will have a chance to view virtually include:

• Robotic Guiding Device for the Blind: a solution to help people with blindness gain more mobility with a device that can guide a person to their destination using GPS and alert them to obstructions in their path.

• Smart Knee Brace: a brace that measures the sounds the knee makes and collects that data to determine the health of the knee to anticipate injury.

• Monitoring Tree Health by Drone: a method to assess the health of trees in partnership using drones to attach monitoring devices to the tree canopy.

• Robotic Mobility Walker: a walker that would allow a person who uses a wheelchair to increase his or her ability to travel over uneven terrain and travel up a ramp with a lightweight, motorized walker that can sense traction and avoid obstacles.

For information about the program and how to present a challenge to a team in the 2020-21 academic year, visit go.niu.edu/SeniorDesignDay.

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