Engineering college students exhibit artistic options to real-world challenges

In laboratories, design areas, dwelling rooms, bedrooms, and basements, college students at Johns Hopkins have been working across the clock to tweak and refine their engineering creations. These initiatives embody a brand new materials that will make photo voltaic cells extra environment friendly, a tool that will allow earlier detection of recurrent mind tumors, and a freeze-dried bacterial powder that accelerates the method of growing old cheeses.

These initiatives, greater than 100 in all, shall be offered just about to school mentors, business sponsors, fellow college students, alumni, and different friends tomorrow on the Whiting School of Engineering’s Design Day—an annual ceremony of passage that showcases college students’ means to use information amassed in school rooms and labs to real-world challenges.

“Design Day is the Whiting School’s celebration of our undergraduate students’ innovation, energy, and creativity. The whole day is dedicated to showing what is possible when the brightest young minds put their intelligence, knowledge, and optimism to work,” mentioned Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School.

During the day-long digital occasion, scholar groups from all 9 engineering college departments, in addition to the Center for Leadership Education, will current talks, posters, and demonstrations dwell by way of Zoom or in prerecorded movies. The Design Day webpage supplies a schedule for the day, in addition to a list of initiatives.

Image credit score: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

One scholar venture being offered this 12 months is a garden mower tailored to permit folks dwelling with imaginative and prescient impairments to sort out that quintessentially American summertime chore: chopping the grass. Sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, a workforce of mechanical engineering college students outfitted a regular lawnmower with a system that detects the peak of grass and cues the person by way of the motion of a set of handlebar-mounted keys. It alerts the person to any obstacles with audio “beeps” transmitted by way of headphones.

“Our goal was to come up with a solution that was easy to use, made the task safer, and put a smile on our client’s faces,” mentioned Reginald Orbih, who teamed up with fellow college students Jungin Eugene Kim, Itic Tinman Munne, and Marcos Schwartz on the design.

Another venture aimed toward making life higher for folks with sight impairments is an artificially clever display screen reader that makes use of pc imaginative and prescient to have a look at a webpage and skim it out loud. Unlike most present display screen readers, “A Set of Eyes” does not work mechanically to learn aloud textual content that’s hardcoded onto a webpage.

“Our approach involves using computer vision and machine learning to detach the screen reader from the underlying code and also provide users with a flexible user interface—meaning [the user] can practically talk with our screen reader to get information on the page. In line with our product’s name, our screen reader will be like a set of eyes looking at the computer screen for the user,” mentioned David Calvo, who labored on the venture with Jada Campbell, Jonathan Edwards, Hannah Lynn, and Kavya Tumkur, who’re all college students within the Department of Computer Science.

A workforce out of the Department of Mechanical Engineering can also be providing a brand new strategy to enhance current know-how. The college students have designed and constructed a miniature dual-rotor, counter-rotating wind turbine able to harvesting extra vitality from wind in a smaller house. Their design, which they examined this semester in Maryland Hall’s wind tunnel, will compete within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition and be offered on the American Wind Energy Association’s CLEANPOWER digital convention in June. Mentors from GE Renewable Energy supplied the workforce with invaluable suggestions, in line with member Willa Grinsfelder, who additionally created and leads the Hopkins Student Wind Energy Team.

A student sets up a device in a wind tunnel

Image caption: The Hopkins Student Wind Energy Team prepares to check their miniature dual-rotor, counter-rotating wind turbine that’s able to harvesting extra vitality from wind in a smaller house.

Image credit score: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

“The project has really turned into a trial run of current industry standards, and in that way it’s really opened [our] eyes up to options in renewable energy, and, for me personally, how I can use the skills that I love like mathematical analysis and mechanical design to really make an impact in the current renewable energy industry,” mentioned Grinsfelder, who labored on the turbine with Owen Friesen and Annika Torp, in addition to 11 different undergraduates in mechanical engineering.

Sustainability and defending the atmosphere are additionally the goals of labor carried out for Design Day by Abby Weyer and Benjamin Balfanz. The supplies science and engineering majors are working with The New Norm, a startup created by WSE alum Lauren Choi ’20, which developed a course of to show Solo cups into filaments that may then be woven into vibrant materials. For their venture, the 2 college students tackled the creation of latest strategies to reap uncooked polystyrene from the pink plastic cups utilizing a pure solvent derived from citrus rinds. They are also experimenting with methods to mix the ensuing polystyrene with different polymers to enhance the strands.

“This project is meaningful to us because we don’t think there is anything like it at Hopkins,” Weyer mentioned. “In our major, we work with materials every day but rarely think about what happens to them at the end of their life cycle. This project has the potential to inspire future innovation in plastics recycling and eliminate common waste and pollutants in standard fabric manufacturing. The impact could be enormous.”

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