August 28, 2013
The ThinkBig! competition asked teams of undergraduate and graduate students to develop projects and proposals that showcase both entrepreneurial skill and creative thinking.
“We wanted to help stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship in our students by giving them a competition with real world applications,” said Royce Bowden, the BCoE’s associate dean for academic affairs. “Our goal was to have the ideas be driven by the students and encourage cross-disciplinary work that even includes students outside of engineering.”
Each team’s project focused on solving a problem in one of the college’s six focus areas: energy, human health enhancement, information and decision systems, materials science and engineering, transportation and vehicular systems, and water and the environment.
The proposals, which were judged by BCoE faculty and staff, included an outline for research to be conduced, as well as a budget. Four of the nine proposals submitted were selected to receive startup funding for the research. They are:
• “Design of a Retractable Device to Mitigate Wingtip Vortex Strength in Commercial Aircraft,” developed by team leader Tausif Jamal, a junior in mechanical engineering; Varun Chitta, a graduate student in mechanical engineering; Eric Robertson, a graduate student in aerospace engineering; Matthew Wong, a junior in mechanical engineering; and Krystal Kimble, a senior in industrial engineering. The team is advised by Keith Walters, an associate professor in mechanical engineering.
• “Developing a Robotic Application for Bullying Intervention,” proposed by team leader Megan Stubbs; Jennifer Carruth and Jeannice Louine, graduate students in sociology; Kaleb Stuart, a senior in software engineering; and Kayla Huddleston, a junior computer science major. The team is advised by Cindy Bethel, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering.
• “Friction Stir Welding System,” created by team leader Bryan Patton, a senior in mechanical engineering; Clay Varner, a senior in mechanical engineering; Sylvester Stafford, a senior in mechanical engineering; and Ryan Crownover, a senior in electrical engineering. The team is advised by Judy Schneider, a professor in mechanical engineering.
• “Oscillating Heat Pipes for Waste Heat Recovery,” developed by team lader Charles McCullough, a graduate student in mechanical engineering; Tessa Hall, a junior in civil engineering; Oliver Norris, a sophomore in electrical engineering; Shiraz Mujhid, a senior in aerospace engineering; Zachary Brown, a junior in mechanical engineering; and in his second entry on the list, Jamal. The team is advised by Scott Thompson and Heejin Cho, assistant professors in mechanical engineering.
Jamal said he entered the competition to build his resume and prepare for his future as an engineer.
“This project gives students an opportunity to get more of our work published,” Jamal said. “It gives us an opportunity to show our talents and compete on a higher level. Getting funding like this is really good for my future.”
The first place team’s proposal focuses on dampening the effect of the whirling air generated by large aircrafts at takeoff, which generate wakes that are very dangerous for airlines. The team’s main goal with the project is to help successful commercial airliners use their time more efficiently.
“If a Boeing 757 is taking off, the vortices it generates are so huge and so strong that a smaller aircraft can easily be toppled and crash,” Jamal said. “That’s why whenever a big airplane is taking off smaller planes have to wait two or three minutes for the wakes to pass before they can fly. If we can reduce that, we would be reducing wait time, thus allowing for more flights per day and more income for airliners.”
The teams are currently initiating their projects and will continue to work on the research throughout the year.
By: Emily McConnell