The day finally arrived. UCF’s engineering and computer science Senior Design Day showcase on April 18 was a culmination of 30 weeks of, as one student described, “blood, sweat and tears.”
Innovation was the star of the show – a spectacle of projects created by graduating seniors of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS). The showcase included projects that received funding for the 6th Annual Symposium on Renewable and Sustainable Energy, sponsored by Duke Energy.
Students, all finely dressed as if for a job interview, received well-earned close-ups.
More than 400 of them displayed 92 inventions inside and outside the Harris Engineering Center and the Engineering II building. Also, three renewable and sustainable projects were individually presented lecture-hall style before a packed house that included the day’s keynote speaker, Dr. Bryan Hannegan, from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Projects included a gadget that can detect conditions for brain-eating water amoeba that plague Florida’s recreational waters; a device that turns plastic bottles into material for 3D printers; a solar-powered submarine; and a human-powered vehicle that reaches a speed of 42 mph and could someday become a viable alternative form of transportation. Just to name a few.
Some of the projects received start-up funding from corporate sponsors such as Boeing, Siemens Energy, Lockheed Martin, Harris Corporation, Philips, and more. Yet, all required huge measures of effort and aptitude.
During their final two semesters, the students divided in teams and coordinated with faculty advisors to develop project proposals, secure sponsorship funding in many cases, conduct design analysis, build prototypes, prepare reports, and finally demonstrate their projects during Senior Design Day. For many CECS students, the projects are mandated for graduation. Students – who are graduating either in May in December – worked 10 or more hours a week to bring their projects into fruition.
Not coincidentally, sighs, smiles and satisfaction filled the air.
“I feel mainly relief because we worked so hard on our project. This is like, finally!” said Sarah Bokuaic, whose Driving Management System is an app that can help prevent accidents by signaling such occurrences as blind spots and tailgating; it also monitors fuel efficiency. She can now graduate with a degree in computer engineering.
“This is our capstone for graduation in our major,” said Michael Carras, who will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering and was part of Solar Knights, which showcased a solar energy domestic water heating system. “We are at the end of our [UCF] road. This is an absolute accomplishment, a great victory.”
“Today was pretty much it for me,” commented Kris Graves, with his body language giving away a double meaning. Leading up to a mechanical engineering degree, his only class of the spring semester involved a solar powered grain dryer that reduces moisture. Graves added he was pretty much wiped out emotionally, too.
Mechanical engineering student Maurice Roberts was simply exhausted all the way around. He was part of a group that produced the IFS Eagle, an immersive flight simulator for multiple vehicles. “My thought is that my body is tired,” said Roberts, noting had had gotten up at 5 that morning after three hours of sleep.
For Emily Poltevecque, a mechanical engineering degree comes with a bit longer wait, December. Still, as she stood behind her team’s project, Heat Transfer in Multiple Tubular Bundles (a new petroleum extraction process for use in Canada), her face told the tale.
Cool, confident and beaming, she said: “I never had any doubts that we would get it done. But is it a relief? Yes.”