Engineers Day Celebration: Students Show Off Mechanical Marvels

by   Posted on February 22nd, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yuri Svjagintsev, Broadside Correspondent

George Mason University launched its annual Engineers Day on Thursday, much to the excitement of students and faculty. According to Linda Kovac, director for Corporate Relations, “the event was designed to introduce students and their projects to potential employers.”

Entries included practical fixes to modern-day problems and machines that satisfy scientific curiosity, all created by individuals and teams of students. One group, known as the RoboPatriots, designed a troupe of soccer-playing robots.

“We are here because we need sponsors for our project,” said Christopher Vo, a Ph.D student studying robotic motion.

The price to enter the competition is $20,000 and each robot costs $2,500.

Included among the other projects was a wireless walking stick for the blind, which used Wi-Fi routers to triangulate a position for the user.

Peter W. Pachowicz, associate professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was most excited about showing off a self-balancing bike, which used a gyroscope in the center of the machine to automatically right the vehicle when it fell sideways.

“Such a technology could be very useful,” said Pachowicz. Other projects had a stated environmental purpose and were designed to help reduce global climate change. Josh Finks, a senior in systems engineering, presented the N-PACT system, which used Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) data from airplanes to measure noise pollution and the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by jetliners on the tarmac.

This innovation could be used by government agencies such as the EPA and FAA to enforce federal pollution standards on airlines.

Employers who came to the event ranged from defense contractors such as Lockheed-Martin to computer software design companies.

Gina Junio, corporate recruiter for Argon ST, a defense contractor, said she was excited at the level of talent displayed at Mason.

However, not all companies were defense contractors. The Volkswagen Group of America was looking for everyone from engineers to marketing specialists and financial analysts, and also offered an Accelerated Grad Program.

Jon Gillette of Volkswagen Group of America remarked that he “had never seen projects combined with the exhibition space before.”

“We are always looking for graduates from Mason,” he added. “We try and make every event.”

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