Biosystems Engineering Teams “Clean Up” at Engineering Design Day

One team designed a counter-flow, diffusion extraction system for sweet sorghum. Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Theresa Lau, Paulina Esquer (Mentor), Peter Livingston (Bosque Engineering project sponsor) Marianna Yanes, Kristen Currier, Charlie Defer (ABE instrument maker), Donald Slack (ABE interim department head). (Photo courtesy of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering)
One team designed a counter-flow, diffusion extraction system for sweet sorghum. Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Theresa Lau, Paulina Esquer (Mentor), Peter Livingston (Bosque Engineering project sponsor) Marianna Yanes, Kristen Currier, Charlie Defer (ABE instrument maker), Donald Slack (ABE interim department head). (Photo courtesy of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering)

Three student design teams from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering took part in the University of Arizona’s 2013 Engineering Design Day on April 30.

Engineering Design Day is an annual event that gives students a chance to apply a classroom education to a project of their choosing that solves real world problems. A total of 300 engineering seniors competed with 63 projects.

The first team designed and built a portable hydroponics system for growing “Barley Fodder” and received the Ventana Medical Systems “Innovative Engineering Solutions” award for $1,000. This was one of three $1,000 awards offered this year.

The design team consisted of Paola Espinoza, Katie McCracken and Greg York. The system was designed to supplement the daily feeding of a herd of alpacas by rotating racks of pallets filled with grown barley. One set of pallets is harvested daily with minimal human interference.

A second team of agricultural and biosystems engineering students designed an automated, wire-guided “Polymerase Chain Reaction” (PCR) heating device and received the W.L. Gore and Associates “Best Creative Solutions” award for $750. The design team consisted of Avi Kaze, Wenyue Li and Lin Ma. This device uses a single oil bath that can heat to above 95 degrees Celsius and cool to below 60 degrees Celsius—the temperature gradient required for PCR. A droplet of fluid is guided back and forth through the oil which allows quick change in temperature and, in essence, faster PCR. The device has accomplished 30 cycles in 7 minutes.

Both teams that competed in this year’s Engineering Design Day were involved in the senior capstone program—a graduation requirement for all engineering students. The program gives students real-world design experience and can go on to yield patented commercial projects.

Donald Slack, interim head of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, said that the capstone requirement “incorporates engineering principles and economic principles which the students have been learning into a team project.” For students, it is their “first experience putting all of their engineering knowledge into an applicable project."

For a complete list of Engineering Design Day 2013 prize winners, read College of Engineering coverage of the event at the link below.

Date released: 
May 29 2013