Engineering students showcase their work at the Senior Design Expo

April 20, 2015

Northwest Nazarene University does not just seek to educate future engineers; their goal is to equip students to make a difference in the world. One component of the graduation requirement for students in the Department of Engineering is to design a senior project. These projects are usually connected to a larger competition, organization or company, which gives the students the opportunity to design solutions for real business or social issues.

This year’s seniors have been a part of four unique projects: an infant vital signs monitoring device, a basic utility vehicle, a steel stamping machine, and a greenhouse project.

The infant vital signs monitoring device has been designed by team members Drew Johnson (Tacoma, Wash.), John Lonai (Milton Freewater, Ore.) and Tyler Marsh (Boise, Idaho). Micron sponsored this project, giving this group of students the unique experience of learning how to work on and design a project within the context of a larger company. Essentially, this project’s goal is to create a system that could be used by parents at home to monitor their infant’s vital signs and potentially build an app that would allow parents to monitor their infant from afar. “The device will measure the pulse and blood oxygen saturation of the infant and alert the parents if the readings drop outside a safe region,” Drew explained.

The basic utility vehicle team is composed of Lukas Rieke (Pasco, Wash.), Keith Moilanen (Vancouver, Wash.) and Zach Thomas (Rochester, Wash.) The goal of this project, which is part of a larger competition put on by the Institute for Affordable Transportation, is to design “a cheap, reproducible vehicle that could serve multiple purposes for a community in a third-world nation,” team member Keith explained. Once the project is complete, the team will travel to Ohio to participate in a competition to test if the vehicle can stand tough terrain and if it will hold up for use in a third-world community. If proven successful, the vehicle this team is building will be donated to a rural third-world community.

The steel stamping machine was designed by Jack Biewend (Turner, Ore.), Connor Back (Turner, Ore.) and Alex Hanson (Colville, Wash.) TekFab sponsored this project and gave this group of students a challenge: to design a machine that would punch a specific shape into .035 inch steel and make five punches per second. “There are several machines that do this job but they are either very expensive to make and maintain or they wear down to quickly,“ team member Jack explained. The team’s goal was to eradicate both of these problems in their design.

The greenhouse team is composed of JJ McNeil (Boise, Idaho), Jordan Dyk (Billings, Mont.) and Darrell Leber (Nampa, Idaho). The goal of this project is to create a greenhouse in which food can be grown to supplement the dietary needs of a community in Argentina. Not only will this greenhouse help supplement their diet, but it will also provide a place for community members to join together. This summer the team will be traveling to Argentina to build the greenhouse and to teach the community how to use it. “It is our hope that this process will help the community ‘grow’ closer and provide the church a unique opportunity to share the Word of Christ,” Jordan said.

Each of these projects will be showcased during the Senior Design Expo on April 23, 2015. The event consists of formal presentations by each team beginning at 3:00 p.m. and demonstrations of their various products beginning at 5:00 p.m.