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Senior engineering students gain rite of passage

May 25, 2011
Matthew Eckman

Matthew Eckman

Every student who passes through the doors of the College of Engineering & Engineering Technology (CEET) must complete a senior design capstone project.

The Senior Design Sequence is the most important challenge of the senior year. This month’s graduating seniors presented their projects Friday, May 6, and competed for monetary awards given by each department within CEET and the Engineering Technology Alumni Society.

“I feel that this day is the most important day in the academic life of our students,” Dean Promod Vohra says. “They get to see the fruits of their labor through this engaging culminating experience, an experience which is judged by their faculty and industrial experts.”

This semester’s winning team, representing the Department of Technology, designed and built an aerial vehicle that was capable of detecting radiation from the ground below it. The “Autonomous Quad-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” is flown remotely from a ground station, which also houses video surveillance and gathers senor data from the flying vehicle.

“The student group did an excellent task by integrating a number of disciplines within the project. Considering the complexity of the project, it demonstrates that our students can undertake challenging tasks when they are focused and have determination for success, ” says Abul Azad, faculty adviser on the project.

Peter Vaughan, Matthew Eckman and Eric Simadis

Peter Vaughan, Matthew Eckman and Eric Simadis

Each senior design project offers the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills gained in classes and labs to a real-life application of product design, system solution, or process improvement. It can be completed individually or with a small team and can involve from one to three semesters of preparation, planning and implementation.

Some projects address specific requests from local industry while others are innovative inventions.

The goal of the senior design project is to facilitate the development of hypothetical objectives and to utilize experimental research methodology and the academic skills achieved in class and the labs. Each project merges profitable concepts from both academia and industry, and then uses applied research and product development to find industry-driven solutions.

Combining the two-way culture of academia and industry is cost-effective and beneficial for the college and its industry partners. Faculty advisers and students have shown a direct link between concepts learned in NIU classrooms and labs and those real-world applications.

College administrators continue to seek more industry partners that can encourage job retention, global competition and future innovation.