Record Semester: Innovation Center Completes Over 60 Projects

By Karen Updyke, School of Engineering

The second week in December signifies Christmas on Campus and the start of finals week for many at the University of Dayton (UD). But at the School of Engineering Innovation Center (IC), it also heralds their Capstone Design Symposium, where the spotlight is on the seniors who present their final projects to their clients. 

“This semester was a great success – the clients, faculty, staff and projects were outstanding,” said Becky Blust, director of the Innovation Center. “We had over 60 project requests; it was one of our best performing semesters. The challenging assignments help to transform engineering education at UD. Some projects will carryover from fall to spring, but, in 2018, we need another 75.”

At the beginning of the semester, “The teams are assigned functional service and industry projects,” said John Hageman, IC faculty. “Students and faculty investigate and problem-solve; we’ve become, to many of our customers, their research arm.”

At the end of the semester, students supply a comprehensive report and presentation to their customers. In between, there are progress meetings with clients, the School of Business and the School of Law for updates, feasibility studies and intellectual property awareness. 

IC lab manager, Sean Powers, determines project feasibility, locates needed resources and troubleshoots. “It’s different out in the real world and not always intuitive for our students,” said Powers. 

Blust attributes the continued success of the IC to the School of Engineering’s leadership and the continuity of faculty members who teach and care deeply about their students and client projects. In addition, said Blust, “The Center could not survive without the organizational skills and knowledge of Libby LoPresti, senior administrative assistant, and Powers. They complete the team with their vast experiences.”

Project Examples from Fall 2017 

Safe Care Tools, medical equipment, requested a new tray shelving system for anesthesiologists to increase drug-dispensing efficiency and patient safety. Mechanical engineering students, Alexandra Nelma, Patrick O’Connell, Sultan Alumutairi and Abdullah Alshammari developed the successful design. 

United Rehabilitation Services (URS) enhances the lives of children and adults with special needs and asked for a smaller light box to assist the visually impaired. Mechanical and electrical engineering seniors, Amani Alkhudair, Lydia Pawley, Mallory Reed and Meshal Dawsh worked on the project. According to the team, “A small piece of cereal is difficult to see and pick up when vision is impaired. With a light box, objects are placed on top and illuminated for easy recognition and retrieval. We developed a smaller, less expensive light box for adjustability and versatility that is operated by battery or AC plug.” 

Ethicon, Inc. advances surgical innovations. Mechanical engineering seniors, Megan Bruening, Theodore Singleton, Mohammad Abul and Randy Brackman, designed reusable clips for a surgical device that eliminates the need to dispose of multiple surgical instruments during a single surgery.

Henny Penny supplies foodservice solutions and came to the IC with a microprocessor issue. Mechanical engineering students, Lance Gaspar, Nathaniel Stapulionis, Brandi Gerschutz and Austin Ray, worked to correct Henny Penny’s data display problem. In the lab, they mimicked an oven in a kitchen environment to help solve the overheating issue. 

Crane Pump manufactures pumps and accessories, and to be proactive, the firm requested a predictive behavior model for their pumps. In the lab, electrical and mechanical engineers, David Saintignon, Brian Hartnett, Noah Pettry and Brandon Smith, mimicked the Crane system with the goal of predicting failure in flow rate pressure, monitoring the health of the pump and predicting when the pump will fail. According to the team, “Crane provided the basic test setup, and we accomplished their research needs.” 

CVRx, a medical device company, requested an app for phones and tablets. The patient wears the diagnostic device for pulse generation with a pacemaker, and the app is for clinician use. According to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty member, Amy Neidhard-Doll, “This work covered 2 semesters – first, developing the interface and wireframe diagram, and, second, developing the code.” Along with Neidhard-Doll, electrical and computer engineering seniors, Carl Cusumano, Xinkai Ma, Hamden Alenezi and Mojtaba Shakhoor, completed the IC team on this project.

Interested in having the Innovation Center faculty and student teams work on your engineering research and development project? For more information, you can contact Becky Blust at 937-229-2851 or visit the IC website: go.udayton.edu/engineering/innovation.

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