Monday, December 5, 2011

Student engineers test real-world applications

Eight teams of industrial engineering seniors presented their projects designed to solve real world problems Friday morning to peers and potential clients.The exhibit, hosted by the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in the Computing, Research and Education building on Busch campus, showcased a wide range of products with defects that students in the Design of Engineering Systems course remedied, said Basily B. Basily, an assistant research professor.They are given a problem and they have to find a solution for that. They actually start with an idea. We try to guide them through it until they find a good idea and create a prototype, said Basily, who teaches the class.

Students tracked the changes made on each product for the exhibit, making it easy for a buyer to mimic their designs, said Joseph Tadros, a member of the Machine for Assembling Modern Electronics team.We’re going to document all of our information and all our design specifications. If people come in with the same budget, they can develop the same machine,said Tadros, a School of Engineering senior.Teams from the system design course have placed in national competitions for the past six years, said Hoang Pham, chairman of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.Pham said high success of their designs in the competition would have a positive effect on the students’ employability.Of those that graduate, about 75 percent of students get a job. Some of them also decide to compete for graduate school,Pham said.

The project helps students understand the actual process of creative problem solving, said Drew Flannelly, a member of the Shop Mate for Picking up Objects group.I think this class definitely prepares you for real life. It gives you the expectations and limitations, said Drew Flannelly, a School of Engineering senior. “It gives you a sense of how much work actually is involved in designing something, how much more goes into it than you expect.Niccole Marcial, a member of the “Fully Automated Elevator Maintenance System team, believes these projects help build up a résumé and boost professional credibility for the inevitable job hunt.

It gives us the skills for when we go on interviews. Any job interview I go on, I mention this project and the teamwork that goes into it,said Marcial, a School of Engineering senior.Blake Cignarella, a School of Engineering senior who worked on a lawn weeding and repair system, said the work required to complete the systems surpassed the skills of other engineering students who do not participate.We have the most intensive senior design project. They’re telling us that some of the stuff we’re doing like our coding and the amount of integration we have to do — is more than students in electrical and computer engineering, and that’s their forte, Cignarella said.The design class is unique for the curriculum, as industrial engineering has more of a technical concentration, said Keith Rodgers, a member of the Shop Mate for Picking Up Objects team.Industrial engineering typically goes into bookwork or statistical analysis, not anything with designing or mechanical or electrical components, said Rodgers, a School of Engineering senior. “This [project] definitely brings in other components of engineering which other universities don’t do.

Industrial engineering students appreciate the comprehensive program and its distinct hands-on style, said Zachary Shands, a member of the “Machine for Assembling Modern Electronics group.I don’t think any other course really challenges you as much as this design course does, Shands said, a School of Engineering senior. “Every other class, they kind of spoon feed you the information. We had to go out and attain the information and find ways to invent this, build this.Kang Li, an assistant professor who teaches in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, said the curriculum is textbook-oriented and welcomes the upcoming changes.We may add a programming class [this summer] to let them have the necessary knowledge to be prepared, rather than just rely on this course of two semesters, which we feel is not enough."

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