ME Design Expo

Students explain their ME 415, 466, and 486 projects to onlookers at the ME Design Expo

One team of Iowa State University mechanical engineering students has designed a simple device to sort coffee beans. Another team designed a low‐cost prosthesis. And another has designed a new kind of grain bin.

Their assignment in Mechanical Engineering 270 (Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design) was to design something to create sustainable economic activity for a developing country.

Those teams of students – plus teams from Mechanical Engineering 415 (Mechanical Systems Design), Mechanical Engineering 466 (Multidisciplinary Engineering Design) and Mechanical Engineering 486 (Appropriate Technology Design) – showed off their projects during the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s first Design Expo.

The Design Expo was held Dec. 7 in Howe Hall on the west side of the Iowa State campus. Nearly 200 students displayed posters, prototypes and other examples of their engineering work.

W. Ross Morrow – an Iowa State assistant professor of mechanical engineering with a courtesy appointment in economics – and Erin MacDonald – an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, art and design and the Michael and Denise Mack 2050 Challenge Scholar – brought the Design Expo to Iowa State after seeing it work at the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Morrow said there are two primary goals for the expo: Demonstrating student’s engineering work and giving students the opportunity to display and explain their projects. If this first Design Expo at Iowa State goes well, Morrow said he expects it will be a part of every semester.

“Having to pitch their project is an important learning experience for the student teams,” Morrow said. “This is the basic format for talking to management about a project – you don’t have a lot of time to explain your ideas, and you need to make a big impression. We are excited about what the students have to share, they have worked very hard on these design projects and deserve this opportunity to showcase their accomplishments to the public.”