Purdue students create array of senior design innovations

December 3, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University students completing a mechanical engineering senior design course will demonstrate a diverse collection of inventions, from a hovering skateboard to a heart-assist device and a foldable wing for a flying car.

The students will display their works during the School of Mechanical Engineering Thomas J. and Sandra H. Malott Innovation Awards competition on Friday (Dec. 7).

"The students go all the way from concept to prototype in one semester," said John Starkey, a professor of mechanical engineering. He and other senior design faculty in the School of Mechanical Engineering served as advisers to the senior design project teams.

The projects will be on display from 1-2:30 p.m. in the second-floor Hill Commons Area of the Mechanical Engineering Building's Gatewood Wing. First- through third-place, and judges' choice award winners will be announced from 2:45-3 p.m.

The creations include:

* A system designed to help surgeons prevent a glitch that occurs in 5 percent of pacemaker implantations in which the lead electrode becomes displaced, putting the patient at risk of a heart arrhythmia.

 * A device worn by swimmers that helps them optimize their arm strokes.

* Prosthetic sewing fingers for a woman who lost her fingers from complications in surgery.

* The mechanical components of a solar array for high-powered communication satellites.

* A "basic utility vehicle" practical in developing countries for transporting goods and people.

* An innovative prosthetic leg for a 5-year-old boy who has a rare birth defect.

* A new type of heart-assist device powered by a moving magnetic field and synchronized to the heart's changing electrical rhythm.

* A hovering skateboard-like vehicle that rides on a cushion of air instead of wheels.

* A foldable wing design for a flying car.

* An automated pizza cutter and boxer that places the pizza in a box when it is done.

* A "fuel-cooled intercooler" to improve the performance of small internal combustion engines used in light recreational aircraft and military drones.

* An electrically powered semi-autonomous cargo transport blimp, which represents a potential alternative to cargo barges.

The senior design teams were advised by faculty members John Nolfi and Starkey.

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu

Source: John Starkey, 765-494-8607, starkey@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Broadcast quality B-roll and sound bites are available upon request. For more information, contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, at 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

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