The 4Ps of engineering education: Public, Private, Prototyping, and Pipeline

In Engineering Education, ICYMI, NewsBy Tori Griffin

Team FunRaiser demonstrates their donation machine on Prototype Inspection Day

UF Engineering Design Students Provide Community Solutions for Corporate Partners

For the last 28 years, the Integrated Product & Process Design (IPPD) program at the University of Florida has provided engineering students the opportunity to gain real-world, industry experience, and acts as a talent pipeline for industry sponsors. This year, IPPD had 18 sponsors, including the Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention located in Gainesville, FL.

The multidisciplinary student team, known as “Team FunRaiser,” includes Hannah Frassrand (Mechanical Engineering), Ethan Glogau (Computer Engineering), Jacob Mass (Digital Arts and Sciences), Caitlin Mazariegos-Diaz (Mechanical Engineering), and Aaron Sossong (Mechanical Engineering). Over the last two semesters, these students have worked diligently to create an interactive donation machine, which was given to the museum after the team’s final presentation.

A demonstration of Team FunRaiser’s interactive donation machine prototype on Prototype Inspection Day

The machine will resemble a Rube Goldberg design, or chain reaction process, where a ball will roll down a track and trigger displays, bringing to life the museum’s signature Mothers of Invention exhibit.

“Our team wanted to create an interactive machine while providing a fun display. When a museum patron donates, they will press a button, releasing a ball to travel along a 3D printed track. Sensors mounted along the track cause different motors to spin and lights to turn on. At the end, the ball returns to its original position, ready for the next donation,” said Hannah Frassrand, “I hope our project will be enjoyed by everyone at the Cade for years to come.”

Not only is the IPPD program developing solutions that benefit the community, but it is also contributing to the improvement of UF’s campus environment as well as its curriculum, laboratories, and programs. The UF Department of Chemical Engineering has sponsored a project that will focus on the efficiency of the Unit Operations Lab, which is the primary teaching lab in the department. The team, known as “ChemBoard,” has been working to optimize the lab setup to be more user friendly, requiring simplification of existing user systems and a user interface where there is an opportunity for expansion of experiments.

Another UF sponsor is the UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. Team “EvapoGATOR,” is working on a vacuum evaporator. The department’s current system’s parts are faulty and irreplaceable, so the team has been tasked with designing an entirely new system. This new student design will save the department $20,000 in overall costs and will be a valuable educational tool for future students.

In addition to UF sponsored projects, corporate sponsors also challenge IPPD students to design solutions to real-world problems. One of this year’s industry sponsors, Duke Energy, is working with students to reduce wasted energy sources, such as steam, on UF’s campus. Team “H2Flow” will deliver two dashboards in Microsoft BI, an interactive data visualization software, that will act as a decision support tool for Duke Energy. One will monitor water quality, while the other will offer a cost analysis of their water treatment process used to make steam for UF. The goal of this project is to encourage improved data collection practices for a better means of internal and external communication.

Working beyond UF’s campus and Gainesville itself, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Area division has sponsored an IPPD project that has tasked students with developing traps that will recognize invasive flies in Florida. These species of flies are destroying citrus crops around the state. Once tested successfully, it will be given to farmers to help them protect their crops.

These company sponsored projects not only benefit the students and the community, but they are also helpful for companies, who can utilize the opportunity to recruit talented students.

“Our IPPD sponsors get to interact with their student teams for two semesters, getting to know them as they work and benefiting from their contributions to solving the problem presented,” said Edward Latorre-Navarro, Ph.D., P.E., Director of IPPD, “Many of these sponsors end up making interview and job offers to their students, making IPPD a great opportunity for both UF engineering students and participating companies.”