Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory
CU-Boulder Students Create What They Dream (continued)
When a design involves electronics, students turn to the Electronics Center, which features simulation software, electronic fabrication capability, and testing equipment. The state-of-the-art computing, test, and measurement capabilities in the center, as well as throughout the ITL Laboratory, were generously provided by Hewlett Packard. Javier Abarca ably helps students with their electronics design and fabrication challenges.
Undergraduate students from all engineering disciplines exploit the ITLL's capabilities to create new products. Many get their hands-on introduction to engineering in the First-Year Engineering Projects course. This year alone, some 335 students have taken the course, building a diverse range of products. Some students created Rube Goldberg contraptions that performed routine tasks in strange and surprising ways.
Many sections of the course build projects for external clients. For example, several sections focus on assistive technologybuilding devices to aid people with different types of disabilities.
One team designed a unique swing for a blind child with other disabilities, allowing him to manually swing himself using his strong arms. The project was one of a dozen featured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, in March 2000 at "March Madness for the Mind." The event is sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), which provided support for this project to move beyond the prototype stage.
Thanks to another grant from NCIIA, an advanced design course incorporating the entrepreneurship process was developed. Students in the Invention and Innovation course design and build products of interest to them that also have potential for commercial development. One team from Fall 1999 has received funding from NCIIA to continue development of their unique system to aid rock climbers on long climbs. The team intends to pursue a patent during this year.
Each semester students showcase their projects at the ITLL Design Expo, sponsored by Dell Computer Corporation. Last fall, more than 500 people from the community prowled the ITL Laboratory viewing and interacting with the 60 exhibited projects. Outside judges evaluate individual projects, and the public votes on their favorite for the Peoples' Choice award. Last fall, a tie occurred between a colorful plasma display glowing in a rainbow of moving colors and a class-wide project that developed an improved railroad roadbed system that is lower cost, more reliable, and friendlier to the environment than conventional wooden ties.
The quality of student design
and build projects continues to soar. ITLL.colorado.edu
|| Published by
the College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado at
Boulder, Office of Engineering Communications