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The 'iProject': CTI seniors scale walls, help prevent SIDS

May 15, 2012

ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation offers a unique curriculum that blends theory and application, culminating in senior-level “iProjects” that bring students and industry together to find solutions to real-world problems.

More than 100 student and industry-sponsored iProjects recently were on display at the Spring 2012 Innovation Showcase, which drew a thousand people to CTI to see the students’ work.

“The Innovation Showcase is a chance for people inside and outside the university to experience the outputs of CTI’s interdisciplinary learning model,” said Mitzi Montoya, the vice provost and dean of CTI.  “The team and project-based learning environment we have built here mirrors that which our students will experience when they enter the workforce, so they will be ready to contribute immediately to complex, challenging, real-world issues.”

Some of the projects at the Innovation Showcase included Peter Seymour’s monitoring device that will help detect and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Seymour, a CTI engineering student, sponsored his own project after he won funding from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.

“We’re working on a monitor that can prevent SIDS at home and work with wireless technologies, such as smart phones and computers,” Seymour said. “Obviously, there’s thousands and thousands of man hours that have gone into this, so to have the chance to demonstrate it is really neat.”

Other iProjects included a climbing device that was built as part of an Air Force competition. The device allows a person wearing up to a 100-pound backpack to scale a vertical surface. A team of 10 students working with General Dynamics developed a self-sufficient shelter system that can be used in remote locations on the front line. Another team working with the Town of Gilbert created an anaerobic digester that turns dog waste into energy.

“My team worked with SRP to develop a microgrid system that will make accessing solar and other alternative energy more reliable,” said Michael Hoffnagle, an engineering student at CTI. “Working with a real client like SRP meant we had to produce viable results and be accountable for our work at a higher level – more than we might have been if we were in a classroom setting. We had to produce results that met the company’s standards, the same standards that all of their employees are held to.

“I think working on the iProject with SRP gave me a jump-start to life in the ‘real world’ after graduation,” said Hoffnagle. “It taught me a lot about project management, budgeting, communications, and how to work within a multi-disciplinary team.”

The challenges for the iProjects are defined by industry partners and solved through the diligence of student teams working under the expertise of faculty mentors. Students work in interdisciplinary teams. Partners commit to funding the project for materials, use of labs and equipment and other expenses, and also provide a project liaison, and partners receive full access to all project outcomes and retain all intellectual property.

Students can also launch an eProject if they have an entrepreneurial idea of their own that they want to pursue.

Past iProject sponsors include Honeywell, GoDaddy, AMD, SRP, General Dynamics, Raytheon, City of Tempe, Town of Gilbert, Vyykn and Sandia. These projects cover a wide range of areas including alternative energy, video gaming development, aviation, robotic and software.

ASU President Michael Crow recently awarded the 2012 President’s Award for Innovation to the iProjects program for its innovative approach to higher education.

For more information on CTI’s iProjects and a list of this year’s projects, visit