Published: April 28, 2018 By

Lights flashed, buzzers rang and attendees watched with rapt attention at the home of University of Colorado Boulder basketball – but with 143 teams in attendance, this was no basketball game.

Welcome to the first ever CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science college-wide Engineering Projects Expo, where hundreds of seniors and graduate students shared their inventions, software and solutions to real-world problems.

“It was a really exciting day, coming together with everyone to celebrate awesomeness,” said mechanical engineering senior Gage Froelich.

Projects at the April 27 event ranged from consumer-oriented devices like new mobile apps and high-tech retractable running boards for pickup trucks, to aerospace industry projects creating sensors for future space missions, to Denver Water-sponsored teams designing proposals for a planned expansion of Gross Reservoir and Dam in the mountains west of the Mile High City.

“Today was a lot of fun. I got to demo my augmented reality project to a lot of people using Microsoft’s HoloLens AR system, which most people outside Boulder probably won’t see for 10 years,” said computer science senior Tarah Peltz.

The expo is the culmination of senior design, a required capstone course where students spend months designing, redesigning, building and testing a new product or device.

Each of the engineering majors structure the course a little bit differently. Some are team projects and others are solo. Many have sponsoring businesses or labs, but not all. The course itself can be one semester or two. What ties them all together is how they compel students to apply with they have been learning over their college careers and push themselves to grow further as young professionals.

In previous years, each major held their own, independent expo. 2018 is the first time students from across the college have come together for a joint event.

Held on the concourse of Coors Event Center, projects stretched around the entire arena. Students discussed their work with hundreds of peers, parents, businesses representatives and members of the general public.

The entire event is a chance for people to experience how students like Technology, Arts and Media (TAM) senior Cassandra Goodby have channeled their passion, enthusiasm and hundreds of hours of work into creating something new.

“I’m really into data visualization. I made an interactive website showcasing data visualization of the taxonomy of beers. People passing by stop because it’s about beer, and then I can talk with them about everything else,” Goodby said.

While the spring semester is nearly over, some will continue to have a life after graduation. Mechanical engineering senior Jordon Thoning’s team project, sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories and called the Space Deliver Safety Device, is heading up -- way up.

“Sandia also sponsored identical projects at eight or nine other universities,” Thoning said. “They’re going to send them all up on a sounding rocket and see which one works the best to continue developing.”