On Thursday, May 9, representatives from Bechtel Innovate, along with a Bechtel university relations representative visited the University of Maryland in College Park, to take part in the university’s Clark School Department of Mechanical Engineering Design Day. Design Day highlights the talents and creativity of mechanical engineering students in the Integrated Product and Process Development Course. 33 teams of senior-level students presented project prototypes built to solve selected engineering problems.

Projects were evaluated on effectiveness of presentation, technical design, and how well the students demonstrated their use of the development and design process. There were a number of projects closely aligned with technologies Bechtel is also exploring, including visual intelligence, Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) for Mobile Equipment Personnel Interference (MEPI), robotics, and additive manufacturing. The following is a short list of example projects:

  • A backpack mounted camera meant to guide the blind on tracking a green circle's direction and distance transmitted with pulsed vibrations in the backpack straps
  • Motorcycle blind spot monitoring via LIDAR sensors. The device is mounted on the bike’s license plate frame with LED indicators for the operator
  • A robotic vacuum equipped with omni-directional wheels that can climb stairs

As shown in the photos, the students were encouraged to use 3D printing where possible to fabricate their prototypes, in the spirit of rapid development and minimal viable product delivery.

The top three project teams were selected as the winners based on faculty and guest judging, with these students receiving water bottles and t-shirts. The first-place team, “Suds & Studs + Mia” also won the sustainability award, having designed a human-powered washing machine designed for Ugandan refugee camps. The other two winning projects consisted of devices to assist people with limited joint mobility to easily don compression socks and an electromechanical device designed to counteract the tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease and stabilize the user’s handwriting.

As a member of the Clark School Corporate Partner Program, Bechtel representatives have served the engineering students at UMD since 2003. Our partnership has enabled students to engage in entrepreneurship activities to further build career-essential skills by participating on real-world projects.  Design Day was a great opportunity to continue supporting the partnership and to share experience with future engineers as they innovate and undergo the iterative design process.