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First-year engineering students present prototypes, win awards

Each year, first-year engineering students at Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science present novel products that they have developed over a series of yearlong Living with the Lab and Living with Cyber courses. Over the course of a year, first-year students learn the basics of programming and choose a product for the market. They then develop a prototype of their selected products through hands-on teamwork.

Presentations this year did not disappoint. More than 60 teams of students showcased their expertise in research and design by presenting products that they created with Arduino and Raspberry Pi microcontrollers to judges and attendees of the 2018 Freshman Design Expo. Students explained product concepts, hardware and software components, interfaces, capabilities, limitations, economic viabilities and future development plans.

“It’s fun to see first-year engineering students progress over a quarter,” Ashley Osborne, project-based learning specialist, said. “They start with an idea, which grows into a concept, which becomes a prototype, and finally turns into a complete design with real-world applications and examples. It is encouraging to see the potential, the energy, and the motivation of these students, to consider how they will progress in the program and continue to be young scholars of whom our program, our College, and our University can be proud.”

“I get inspired every year when I see the products that the students develop,” Dr. Krystal Corbett, lecturer in mechanical engineering and coordinator of the 2018 Freshman Design Expo, added. “It is so encouraging to see the creativity and perseverance of our students. Our students are applying engineering in ways that very few first-year engineering students get to do: They are designing, fabricating, implementing and troubleshooting. They are truly learning to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, which are skills they will take with them throughout their engineering classes and beyond.”

Award winners for the 2018 Freshman Design Expo are:

  • 1st Place Overall: Smart Plumbing
    • Professor: Dr. Michael Swanbom
    • Team: Zach Harper, Nicole Robles, Kristen Batin
  • 2nd Place Overall: Solo Biking Buddy System
    • Professor: Dr. Pushparaj Pathak
    • Team: John Coughlin, Jacob Dumontier, Nicholas Trichel
  • 3rd Place Overall: Smart Balance Board
    • Professor: Dr. Daniel Scoggin
    • Team: Peyton Page, Christopher McElveen
  • Shoot the Moon Award (tough project that may not completely function): Low-Cost Prosthetic Hand
    • Professor: Dr. Michael Swanbom
    • Team: Christopher Rice, Dylan Powell, Tyler McLane, Garrett Kitchings
  • Davinci Award (most creative project): Dr. Clean
    • Professor: Dr. John Easley
    • Team: Michael Krzystowczyk, Allie Hill, Abby Morgan
  • Can-Do Award (most difficult project that works): TechKnow Network Manager
    • Professor: Dr. Daniel Scoggin
    • Team: Justin Berthelot, Richard Fontenot
  • Rolex Award (best constructed prototype): Smart Toolbox
    • Professor: Dr. Michael Swanbom
    • Team: Jacob Fredricks, Trey Navarre, Tyler McCullough, Cody Rogers
  • Patent Pending Award (most novel yet practical idea): Automated Dog Food/Water Rationing Unit
    • Professor: Dr. Michael Swanbom
    • Team: Michael Adams, Edward Chappell, Hyder Spence, Joshua Jones