Engineering students use skills on private projects

The university’s engineering seniors are applying their technical skills to build, test and complete projects funded by private companies.

Julian Heinrich is a senior mechanical engineering major from Germany and a leader on a prototype engine project. The group is working on an engine that will produce more power by changing the path of the crankshaft, Heinrich said.

“We’ve got an engine team. We’ve got an alternative fuels team. We’ve got a data acquisition team. Each team does their own thing. Everybody has their own responsibilities, and it’s kind of a real world experience,” Heinrich said.

Another project leader, senior electrical engineering major Tristan Garcia, is part of a team working to develop a 180-degree cockpit display for rescue helicopters.

The work is not simple and requires a good deal of problem solving. The most difficult part of the project was projecting clear images on a curved surface, Garcia said.

Fortunately for the seniors, they are not completely on their own. Engineering professor Robert Bittle is a senior project facilitator who said he is always excited about what the seniors are working on and is willing to help but that he tried to let the students work through problems themselves.

“I can say, ‘Look, we’re running out of time, you guys have to put more time in or you have to organize yourself better.’ Things like that,” Bittle said. “It’s up to them, and it’s a challenge for the students.”

Seniors have both semesters to complete their work, and at the end will present their finished products with the hope of satisfying the customer’s desires.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some good results and be able to deliver our project,” Heinrich said.