Innovative engineering projects to be showcased virtually on May 8

The public is invited to a virtual engineering fair hosted by the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) on Friday, May 8 from 1-4 p.m. Visitors can explore the innovative projects that have been worked on this year by 87 teams of NIU seniors. The fair also allows visitors to view the teams’ abstracts and posters, and join the teams of seniors in Microsoft Teams meeting chat rooms to ask questions and learn more about their projects.

Before graduating, engineering and engineering technology students form interdisciplinary 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 and theories to construct a prototype or process,” said Dean Donald Peterson, Ph.D. of NIU’s CEET. “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 event has been converted to a virtual event.

“Huskies never quit,” said Peterson. “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.

Last year’s Senior Design Day saw more than 500 visitors at the NIU Convocation Center. This year, some of the projects that 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 more information about the senior design program and how to present a challenge to a team in the 2020-2021 academic year, visit go.niu.edu/SeniorDesignDay.

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