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Engineering majors excel in community projects

May 20, 2010

More than a dozen students in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering were among recent winners of the university’s Innovation Challenge and Community Changemaker awards.

The Innovation Challenge competition involves projects that address economic, social or cultural challenges.   

The Community Changemaker Competition involves project teams that present the most innovative proposals to collaborate with community service organizations.

The competitions are designed to motivate students to engage in work that will help provide solutions for needs of local and global communities, as well as to teach students teamwork and prepare them for professional careers.

Four of the teams that won awards developed their projects through the Engineering Projects In Community Service program – called EPICS – offered by the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The program enables students to get involved in community projects with nonprofit organizations, with the aim of teaching teach them leadership skills and providing opportunities to put fundamental engineering skills into practice. 

Innovation Challenge winners:

• Nick Coury, undergraduate studying computer science engineering. His team project, Go Timing, focuses on electronic race timing systems, an electronic-chip timing system for racing events. His team used sustainable materials to develop a reliable timing system at a lower cost than current timing systems.

• Robin Daugherty, Kevin O'Connor and Alfonso Dominguez, undergraduates studying electrical engineering. Their project, Large-Area Flexible Chemical Sensing Arrays, detects a vast range of airborne particles, and matches test samples with a chemical thumbprint. Developing sensing capabilities with flexible technology will make the sensors more versatile.

• Musa Othman, undergraduate studying industrial engineering. Her project, Limb Devise Enterprise, is designed to improve patient treatment in hospitals and other medical care centers. It helps healthcare professionals safely open any bodily limb that has been contracted due to a sudden traumatic event and safely place an intravenous device into the limb to administer medication. 

• Susanna Young, Michael Chou and Kyle Karber, undergrads studying mechanical engineering; Ryan Stoner, majoring in aerospace engineering; and Jasmine Nejad, majoring in bioengineering. The team worked on a part of larger project called Malawi Empowerment Village, which is helping meet medical needs of women and the physically disabled in the African country of Malawi. The project involves transforming large, recycled shipping containers into maternity clinics in rural villages in Malawi, and replacing used containers that can contain pollutants. The team wants to teach Malawians how to perform the container alternations so villages can turn such projects into a community enterprise. 

• Jared Schoepf, studying chemical engineering, and Michael Burch, studying aerospace engineering, joined efforts with mechanical engineering undergraduates Ben Coan and Allan Gillespie. The Rio Salado Habitat Team developed plans for a system capable of capturing and facilitating the removal of waste from storm drains, which helps provide a more cost-efficient way to use water from storm pipes to help maintain an urban plant and wildlife habitat preserve in Phoenix’s Rio Salado area.

• Brandon Mechtley, a graduate student studying computer science. He worked on a project called WorldIsStage, involving a content-distribution network designed to connect local performance artists, businesses, art patrons and other community members through an iPhone application.

Community Changemaker Competition winners

• Mark Scheppe and Addison Waldow, undergrad students studying computer science engineering; Shubo Liu, a graduate student studying electrical engineering; and Jacqueline Kisling, an undergrad student studying civil engineering. The team developed eBird Hotspot Wiki with Threat Watch, an extension of the original eBird database, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Auduborn Society. The database assists researchers in better managing environmental and biodiversity analysis.

• Ramya Baratam, an undergrad studying computer science engineering; and Tyler Lemonds and Josh Winterstein,  undergrads in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering. They made up the Recycled Rides Chassis Team, which is a project of the National Auto Body Council that repairs and donates cars to needy families. The team is developing an economical and reliable online system management tool that will allow Recycled Rides to focus on its mission of providing outreach to those in need.

• The Rio Salado Habitat Team (Jared Schoepf, Michael Burch, Ben Coan and Allan Gillespie, each mentioned above) are creating a cost-efficient solution to capture and facilitate the removal of waste from storm drains in a natural habitat south of downtown Phoenix. The team won both an Innovation Challenge and a Community Changemaker award.

Written by Jessica Graham