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Florida Tech’s Annual Student Design Showcase Highlights Innovation

Free Public Event Features Record
144 Projects in STEM Fields

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Seniors in Florida Institute of Technology’s colleges of engineering and science will showcase their academic achievement and technical prowess at the Northrop Grumman Engineering & Science Student Design Showcase from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 7, at the Clemente Center on campus.

Featuring 88 projects from the College of Engineering and 56 from the College of Science – the combined 144 projects is a record total – the annual event is free and open to the public. The Clemente Center is located on University Boulevard just west of Babcock Street.

In 2009, a $1 million endowment gift from Northrop Grumman Corporation provided ongoing support for the students’ work. The gift reflected the company’s longstanding commitment to boosting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and the value of hands-on learning.

“There is no better lesson than actually doing, building, attempting and sometimes failing and re-starting,” agreed Laurie Guiser, Florida Tech’s student project director for the College of Engineering. “All of this teaches real-world problem solving and team dynamic skills.”

The showcase includes projects and posters developed by undergraduate students, working on their own or in teams, from all academic departments in the two colleges. Participating students, who must conceive, research and/or design and implement their projects, gain hands-on experience in applying science or engineering knowledge and the fundamental principles of their respective majors.

Among College of Engineering projects in this year’s showcase are a robot from Electrical Engineering that crawls through ductwork to sterilize the system, a 3-D ‘bioprinter’ from Biomedical Engineering that can host and print biological material and a modular and pre-fabricated structure designed to improve building technique and efficiency from Construction Management.

“It continues to be evident to me how critical it is to prepare not just text- and theory- proficient engineers but to prepare them to be working engineers, as well,” Guiser said. “The experience of their capstone senior design projects teaches many different elements to the teams, much of it rooted in the art of engineering execution, not just the theory and science.”

College of Science research posters this year include one from the university’s sustainability program exploring the effects of the sustainable lawn certification program on Indian River Lagoon nutrient loads.

Others include a chemistry poster on the development of fluorescent sensors for detection of rocket fuels, one from biology on the impact of marine protected areas on coral reef management, a look at the automated tracking of single cell algae for discovery of new drugs from cellular and molecular biology, and from mathematical sciences, a poster on the optimization of operational costs in U.S. airlines. Beyond the Earthbound, a poster from Physics and Space Sciences will explore multi-planet systems hidden in timing variations.

“The showcase requires that students not only delve deeply into their chosen topics, but also that they hone skills that will serve them in the workplace, like teamwork and clear communication,” said Michael Freund, showcase coordinator for the College of Science and head of the Department of Chemistry.

At the conclusion of the showcase, Northrop Grumman officials will present “Best in Show” prizes for one project each from the engineering and science colleges. Florida Tech President T. Dwayne McCay will present President’s Cup awards to top projects from each college.

For more information on this and past showcases, visit www.fit.edu/student-design/.

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