|Calvin Engineers Unveil Prototypes
posted April 27, 2007
Calvin College will hold its 23rd annual Senior Design Open House from 4:30 through 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 5 at the Calvin Engineering Building. The yearly event, a showcase of projects tackled by teams of senior engineering students, is the capstone of the Calvin engineering program.
The teams, various combinations of senior-level mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical engineering students, work for two semesters to tackle a real-life design quandary from a whole array of engineering fields. Two of the projects represent the wide-ranging ingenuity that will be on display at the open house.
Team 7 has produced machine that pops amaranth, a highly nutritious plant and a versatile cash crop in developing nations. Popping amaranth not only increases the nutritional value of the plant, it ups its market value to three to four times of that of the unpopped grain-making it an extremely lucrative crop for farmers in Africa, South America and elsewhere.
"This opportunity to improve the economic well-being of amaranth farmers around the world appealed to our design team," reads the overview statement for that design, dubbed the "Amaranth Extension Project" and created by Nick Vroom, Tyler Voskuilen, Eric DeVries, Jason Noteboom and Darren VanRooyen.
On the other hand, Team 1, titled "fmNow" and composed of Jordan Schaenzle, Peter Tuuk, Job Vranish and Brad Zoodsma and Mike Zwagerman, is targeting the developed world. Their project is a data storage system that applies the TiVo concept to FM radio.
"It's a nice convenience for a car radio," says chemical engineering professor Aubrey Sykes, a coordinator of the design projects. "If you're in the middle of the news, and you want to hear the beginning of the program, you can back it up. If you're in the middle of a song, you can back it up."
Both projects, Sykes emphasized, embody the values the Calvin engineering program builds into its student engineers.
"Everything that we do is targeted toward improving God's world and improving the kingdom that's given to us. Much of it is geared toward helping developing areas, but much of it is also geared toward improving the world we live in."
The other 11 teams have applied their engineering know-how to everything from Stirling engines to rice straw and have tackled design sites as close as Calvin's campus and as far away as Haiti.
The projects will be on display in both the Prince Engineering Design Center and the Vermeer Engineering Projects Center , and the teams will be on hand to explain the finer points of their designs to family, friends and other visitors. The student engineers will get another chance to present their work later from 7:30 through 9 p.m. in the Science Building and the Chapel Undercroft, following a special 6 p.m. dinner in their honor.
"They're really good students," Sykes says of the senior engineers. "They're hard-working, smart and ethical." Right now, he adds all of those qualities are on display as the students work overtime to work the glitches out of their prototypes.
"At this point, the students have access to the building 24 four hours a day, seven days a week," he says, adding, "though there usually isn't anybody here working on Sunday."
~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson
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