WNC engineering students find community solutions
December 30, 2018
Students enrolled in the fall semester of the engineering design class, taught by Lior Singer, have successfully completed their final class projects.
Last year, Singer's students engaged in a similar assignment which focused on solving global issues (https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/local/western-nevada-college-students-aim-to-help-hurricane-survivors/#), but these students decided to focus their efforts closer to home. Students were tasked with identifying, researching and designing a solution for a problem in our local community.
Nine teams worked on a variety of issues, touching on topics related to safety, health care, energy and environmental sustainability. Some of the solutions were the development of a special security camera system to detect and prevent school shootings, medical equipment to allow oxygen tank users to swim safely, a special coating for rooftops to optimize sustainable heating and cooling, and the recovery of polystyrene waste from landfills to create nontoxic chicken feed.
The engineering students represent a variety of interests and engineering specializations; including civil, mechanical, environmental and computer science. Singer noted this diversity resulted in creative brainstorming that's reflected in the uniqueness of the resulting projects.
"One of the things that I enjoyed the most, is that the students chose to deal with everyday problems that directly impact their lives," he said.
A solution for school shootings was approached by incorporating new technology, like Artificial Intelligence (AI). The students built a prototype using a Go Pro camera and other components. Another team designed a medical device to assist individuals who rely upon a 24/7 upon oxygen supply tanks. This need was identified by one of the students who's a lifeguard at the Carson Aquatic Facility. She noticed the difficulties these individuals have when they try to swim, so she decided to address it. The solution is simple, but it introduces something to the market of medical equipment that could be valued at billions of dollars.
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The 10 steps of the engineering design process the students use are applicable to any kind of problem faced by humanity. Whether grappling with an engineering problem, or a relationship problem, engineering design is a powerful tool. This WNC instructor "is pleased to introduce this process to future engineers, and encourage their creativity and critical thinking skills." Although the semester is over, he plans to stay in touch with the students to follow up. "Many of these projects show the potential for presentation at an up-coming international competition. I know my students will represent and honor Nevada."
Singer is a licensed professional engineer who works for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. He teaches the Introduction to Engineering class in his free time, and believes the training of a new generation of engineers will foster the knowledge and skills to improve society and the environment.