Senior Project Expo Goes Virtual

project expo
Engineering students Clare Lupo, Amanda Almada, Jae De Leon and Miles Curtis celebrate virtually after completing their senior project “QL+ Farming Prosthetic for Cassie.” The multidisciplinary team designed and built a new prosthetic arm to help an organic farmer and U.S. Navy veteran who lost her arm in an auto accident.

From face to face to on the web, the Project Expo is happening here.

With Cal Poly shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic this spring, the annual opportunity for seniors to showcase their innovations and senior projects known as the Engineering Project Expo followed the rest of the campus community into the virtual world at full speed.

Mechanical engineering professor Peter Schuster, a senior project advisor in the College of Engineering, said the Expo went from a face-to-face showcase held around Engineering Plaza with large, printed posters to a website featuring interactive digital posters in less than a month.

“It’s hard to decide what was the biggest challenge with the Expo this spring — there were so many to choose from!” Schuster said. “One major challenge was coming up with a page design and development process that wouldn’t create a lot of extra work for the students, and wouldn’t detract from the work done by teams who weren’t able to complete their final build.”

Working with College of Engineering web coordinator Moncerratt Peralta, Schuster said they chose a basic 3-column poster template and a simple list of instructions so students could quickly focus on the content.

“Timing was the big concern,” Schuster said. “By the time we had firmed up the layout and instructions, we only left three weeks for students to develop their own pages.”  

The result is the 2020 Virtual Senior Project Expo — — which features 58 multidisciplinary projects, a number, Schuster said, that’s actually a little higher than in past years.

“As is typical, we had about a half dozen teams that could not participate due to sponsor confidentiality,” he said.

The on-line Expo also features the same wide spectrum of engineering challenges, including:

• Surf Sled — Built for AmpSurf, a non-profit organization established to inspire and rehabilitate all people with disabilities and their families through Adaptive Surf Therapy, the team built a sled that helps people with lower body disabilities get from the beach to the ocean while lying on their surfboard.

• Without a Paddle Propulsion System — This project was to design and build a solar and battery-powered propulsion system for the Cal Poly boat entered in a national solar regatta.

• Reading Robot — The senior team created a small robot that helps students practice their reading comprehension skills.

Reading robot
Named HAPI, the Reading Robot was designed by a multidisciplinary team to help students practice their reading comprehension skills.

• Team Mountain Arm — This QL+ Lab team designed and manufactured a new prosthetic arm to allow a U.S. Navy veteran injured in an automobile accident to go backpacking comfortably.

Schuster said the Expo will continue the enhanced online presence in future years.

“We’ve been talking about doing this as a supplement to the in-person Expo for a few years now,” he said. “So, part of this development was aimed at creating something that could be easily added to our plans for the future, without creating too much extra work for the students.” 

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.

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