Mechanical engineering students exhibit projects at Design Expo

Mechanical Engineering Design Expo Tuesday at Howe Hall. Featuring Projects from ME270, ME415, ME466 and ME486. More than 200 students presented their design projects. Each visitor has a ticket and votes one of the favorite design project. The winner will receive mechanical engineering scholarship. Photo: Tsubasa Shigehara/Iowa State Daily

Ben Theobald

Mechanical engineering students exhibited projects that they have worked on since August on Tuesday at the first Design Expo at Howe Hall. 

“The purpose is to showcase all the work that the students have done this semester on design projects,” said Dr. Erin MacDonald, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “They work so hard to have these tangible outcomes that all work. It’s a great opportunity to actually show them to each other and the community.”

The expo was a place where students could teach other students who aren’t familiar with engineering about the importance of their projects, said W. Ross Morrow, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

“They have the opportunity opportunity to explain their projects to somebody who may not be an engineer that doesn’t know anything about what they are doing,” Morrow said. “It’s a very important experience for engineering students.”

Morrow previously organized two similar expos at the University of Michigan and a similar event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Hopefully it is something that will keep going at Iowa State,” Morrow said.

Students created projects that could have practical uses at home and abroad.

Brian Walker, graduate student in architecture, showcased a radio-controlled blimp that takes censors over fields to receive different readings.

“We design different ways of flight looking at weight, cost and different materials that we can incorporate,” Walker said.

Austin Hilton, junior in mechanical engineering, and his group demonstrated the importance of his project — a mango picker for Haiti.

“Mangos are the number two export in Haiti,” Hilton said. “We want to find a better way to make it more efficient and faster.”

Tory Jung, junior in mechanical engineering, and his group presented an oil press for people in West Nigeria to be able to use to extract palm oil from palm fruit.

“We figure it would be more sanitary,” Jung said. “It’ll be cleaner and they can get more oil from the palm fruit.”

Brandon Kiel, junior in mechanical engineering, showcased with his group a prototype scale model of a rainwater collector to be used in mountainous areas in Tanzania.

“The real thing will collect 1,200 inches of rain per hour,” Kiel said. “Our prototype will collect five gallons in eight seconds. If you can get a couple of them then you can irrigate crops without a problem.”

Luke Stephenson, junior in mechanical engineering, along with his group presented a windmill to be used for sustainable energy in Kenya.

“In Kenya there is a rapid growth of cell phone usage, but they don’t have a way to charge their cell phones,” Stephenson said. “This will be implemented to give them a power source to be able to use their cell phones which help them in many aspects of their life.”

The event was sponsored by the mechanical engineering department.