CORVALLIS - When you turn engineering students loose to design their own product prototypes, the results are always interesting, sometimes surprising, and often so sensible you wonder why nobody ever thought of that before.
How about a "smart" shower system that regulates the water temperature and flow to just the way you like your showers? And up to seven other people in your household can store their preferred personal shower settings in the device as well. So in the end, energy and water are conserved.
Or what about a portable solar-powered water pump that reduces the environmental impact of cattle in streams by relocating drinking water to alternative locations like stock tanks that are a safe distance away from the fragile riparian areas?
Or maybe a wireless device attached to bus stops that keeps track of when the bus you're waiting for will arrive at the stop…or, alas, how long ago it left?
These are three of the dozens of "senior projects" designed by engineering students in the Oregon State University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science that will be on display at this year's Engineering Innovators Expo on April 30. Many projects are funded by industry sponsors like Hewlett-Packard, Tektronix, Bonneville Power Administration, Intel, and Portland General Electric.
The Expo will also feature a showcase of faculty and student research, a TekBot Triathlon that includes a contest for the "best dressed" robot, and local high school students displaying the robots they built in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Program.
This year, the event is larger because it includes participants from the Department of Computer Science, which the university has merged with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
"It's wonderful to be able to showcase even more innovation this year," said Terri Fiez, director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "This is a fun way of showing the wider public how electrical engineers and computer scientists make our lives better. Our students not only do the highly technical work, but they are also able to describe their projects so that non-engineers can understand them. There's lots of learning and interaction that happens at the Expo."
The free event is open to the public and takes place between 2 and 5 p.m. at Owen Hall on campus. For more information, call 541-737-3617 or visit http://eecs.oregonstate.edu.