Project Expo Showcases Student Innovation

Project Expo students
Long Hoang, Meghan Smith, and Katie Nute with their project to develop a school in Tarzania called Same Polytechic College during the 2020 Project Expo.

Amid hi-tech-sounding displays such as the automated hydrophone, laser triangulation measurement and precision X-beam alignment, Dave Breuer is standing next to a table crunching out guitar licks.

Ask him about his “Dual Peaks” guitar effects pedal, however, and he will get highly technical, leading one to quickly ask him about a more familiar topic – the greatest guitarists of all time.

“Obviously, Jimi Hendrix – that’s a no-brainer,” Breuer says. “I think the most signature sound is Brian May. You hear so much of his voice in the playing.”

The annual Project Expo, held Friday, gives students a chance to show off their work. As usual, this year’s Project Expo features a wide variety of student work – including several that can help others immediately.

Outside the Advanced Technology Laboratory, a business professor asks a team to offer him a ride in their Rugged Terrain Rescue. And, of course, they oblige.

The team had originally considered a project related to diabetes blood glucose monitoring. But after speaking with a local doctor who was also a hiker, they stumbled upon another need – an apparatus to help first responders transport victims from rugged areas.

The San Luis Obispo Fire Department rescues someone from Bishop Peak about 19 times a month, they found. But carrying equipment up hill and the patients downhill is time-consuming and risky.

Garrett Janetzky knows – three years ago, he had a mountain bike accident in Mammoth.

“It took fist responders an hour to get to me,” he said. “The idea behind this is to expedite the process.”

Nearby, a heartwarming story of a father and son reaches another chapter as John Cornelius straps his disabled son Joseph into a bike trailer designed by Team Joseph.

Cal Poly students first helped Joseph take part in the triathlons in 2014, when they designed the Aquabullet, a 6-by-4 foot flotation device. Last year, they followed with a jogger. And this year’s Project Expo unveiled the final piece – a custom-made trailer that provides Joseph comfort and won’t tip over even if the bike does.

Cornelius will once again participate with Joseph in the SLO Triathalon July 22.

While Joseph can’t walk or talk due to severe cerebral palsy, his father knows he enjoys being active.

“When you do this with him, you feel his energy,” Cornelius said.

Once limited in his activities and debilitated by constant seizures, Joseph has had many more opportunities to bond with his father.

“Now we just make up for lost times,” Cornelius said.

During the expo, students spent three hours fielding questions from inquisitive passersby.

Kevin Marshall explained his team’s Purple Urchin Removal System to one curious woman.

“The predators in this system are dying off,” he told her.

Warmer water temperatures, he said, are killing the sea stars that eat urchins. In return, those urchins are over-consuming kelp that other creatures need. His device addresses that problem.

While Marshall was unaccustomed to greeting strangers for several hours, one of those many visitors included a diver who had actually hunted urchins.

“It’s been really fun,” he said.


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