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Engineering Students Team Up with Local Companies to Solve Problems

Experiential Learning

Apolonio Montejano, Paul Gray and George Keryakos spent hours working on the design of a highly efficient, electric, tankless water heater while juggling their course work and, in the case of two of them, full-time jobs. The work was part of a senior design project that gives engineering majors the opportunity to collaborate with local companies.

The students worked with Eemax, the nation’s leading manufacturer of commercial, industrial and residential electric tankless water heaters, trying to develop a cost-efficient design that would decrease the time it takes to reach optimal water temperature.

Engineering Expo 2013

“We were working on a solution to an actual industry problem,” said Montejano. “You have to meet your boss’s deadlines. You have to find the best way to work together as a team. It was the real deal.”

Theirs was just one of the projects featured at the University’s second Senior Design Expo at the end of the spring semester. Under the guidance of a faculty member, a company sponsor or industry advisor, students researched a problem, developed designs and fabricated, tested and refined their prototypes.

Adam Sipperly, Chris Schroeder and Terance Thomas designed and created a community grocery pick-up unit for ActualFood. The startup company is an online grocery provider that aims to deliver healthy, fresh foods to local communities using kiosks as a drop-off point. Katrina Durgan and Hao Tian designed a new inventory and fulfillment system for the company.

Another project included the development of a watch that operates with very low power consumption, using a rechargeable battery and energy scavenging technologies. Another group of students worked with the U.S. Department of Energy on the development of a skylight that generates heat and electricity. Most of the projects take place over the course of two semesters.

“This year we had even more companies sponsor projects and pose problems they wanted solved,” said Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering. Additional sponsors included Hamilton Sundstrand Aerospace Systems, Covidien, Sikorsky, Timex, Vitec Videocom, Tighe and Bond, Autoscript, FuelCell Energy, Laticrete and Phonon.

Ismail Orabi, the Senior Design Expo coordinator and a professor of mechanical engineering, said senior design projects have led to patents pursued by two companies, job offers and, most importantly, students developing the skillsets needed to thrive in the field of engineering, where innovation and teamwork are highly valued in the marketplace.

“We are always making sure that when our students go to the workplace, they are well prepared to meet the challenges,” Orabi said.

Bethany First Selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski asked UNH students to redesign the layout of the town hall. While Lauren Primovic and Todd Rake used a software program that simulated an algorithm that could produce different layouts, much of their work was done the old-fashioned way. The students analyzed work flow and interviewed members of the staff about their needs and hopes for a new space. The team came up with designs that Gorski said she is reviewing. While a change is not imminent, she called it “a positive experience for everyone involved.”

Expo 2013

Primovic found the experience invaluable. “Certainly what we learned in engineering came into play, but it was also about project management and communication,” she said. “It was about learning the best ways to work with people.”

Andrew Saunders and Patrick Daniele won first prize in the poster competition at the expo for the structural design of a hypothetical multi-use stadium for the campus. Matthew Hocking, Kristin Piester and Joelvito Villaluz Jr. took second place for their design of a hypothetical Charger Garage.

Luiz Vieira, assistant professor of civil engineering, said he was proud of the students’ work. “They are very determined and passionate about what they are doing,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to work on a long-term project and apply all the knowledge that they acquired at UNH.”

This story was originally posted in Summer 2013.

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