DENVER - From solar power and flood protection systems to a robotic ground vehicle and hydro-electric generator, senior engineering students displayed a spectrum of high-tech gadgets and environmental problem-solvers on Friday.
Students entered 18 projects in the annual College of Engineering and Applied Science Senior Design Competition in the North Classroom atrium. The best overall project won a $1,000 grand prize, and a top project from each discipline -- civil engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering -- received a $250 prize.
In their senior year, engineering students take a Senior Design course that is the culmination of the knowledge and skills they've acquired at CU Denver. The team of Levon Barsikyan, Jason Carpenter and Dustin Grenemyer spent hundreds of hours, and $17,000 in sponsorship from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, building a mini hydro generator that emulates a hydro generator from startup to shutdown.
The project's purpose is to create a safety system for hydro-electric generators, especially geared toward preventing catastrophes such as the generator failure in Russia in 2009, Barsikyan said.
Over a period of three decades, Grenemyer said, it's estimated that a diagnostics system provided by the mini generator could save $352 billion in hydro-electric generator operational costs.
"I've learned a lot and gotten a lot of experience on how to engineer a project," Grenemyer said of the Senior Design Competition. "I've learned from mistakes that I'll probably never make again."
The competition featured 13 electrical engineering teams, two mechanical engineering teams, two civil engineering teams and one computer science and engineering team.
Automated operation of home devices was the project designed by another electrical engineering team, the group of Ruth Ortiz, Bashir Abdulle and Abord Mwan.
Ortiz said the goal of the project, which cost the students $300 in materials, was to control home devices remotely. Their display featured a laptop computer on a table next to an array of electronic devices -- wall lights, alarm clock and appliances -- that are common in any home.
Abdulle explained further: "We wanted to make it so you could turn on electrical devices in your home without physically being there. And if you left anything on, it will tell you through your computer or an app. And you can tell (the system) to turn any device off."
The projects drew onlookers who became curious as they walked down the atrium. Besides learning how to work as a team and present their ideas, the students learned about budgeting and solving a problem for someone else.
"Besides being a great learning experience," Barsikyan said, "I think it's a great social event to get together and see what other engineers from other fields have done."
(Photo caption: Levon Barsikyan, right, points out features of a mini hydro-electric generator that his team built to fellow engineering student Abrar Satar during Friday's Engineering Senior Design Competition in the atrium of the North Classroom building.)
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