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Innovation and Engineering in Action at VCU’s Engineering Senior Design Expo

What does an iron, an ice skating rink and a chickpea have in common? They are all elements used by seniors in VCU’s School of Engineering at this year’s Senior Design Expo. Hundreds of VCU Engineering students gathered at the Science Museum of Virginia in April to display and discuss their innovative designs for products to improve our lives and advance technology and research. Watch this Science Matters video of three teams discussing their design prototypes. And be sure to encourage your local middle or high school to schedule this as a field trip next year to see innovation and engineering in action!


The work for the Design Expo is a requirement for graduation and reflects the engineering school's multiple programs of: ​

Teams have spent their final undergraduate year selecting a problem, conceptualizing, designing and testing their projects. Students are mentored by faculty and leaders in business and industry for eight months leading up to the development of their final prototype designs. Some of the highly innovative projects this year included:

  • a linear rotary motor that may lead to enhancements in medical machinery, assembly line production and security systems,
  • a stair-climbing walker to assist with mobility and independence of the elderly, 
  • separation of damaging phytic acid contained in chickpeas and other highly nutritious legumes, to enhance a vital food staple globally,
  • a self-directed audio tour for visually impaired visitors to Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
  • road-adaptive headlights,
  • a digitally controlled steam iron,
  • an automated shower device for the elderly and disabled,
  • an energy-saving ice rink temperature control system, and
  • creation of a liquid ventilation system that could help patients suffering from life-threatening breathing illnesses

Click here for the Abstracts for all 2013 Projects

Eight teams out of sixty seven projects were named 2013 winners.

This is a great opportunity for middle and high school students to receive a first-hand view of how their education can lead to solving real world problems. The VCU teams are passionate about their work and they spend the day talking with younger students about engineering and how it combines both research and hands-on applications. Middle and high school students can see how what they are learning in their classrooms - team work and collaboration, creative problem solving, trial and error, can lead to college- level engineering studies and a future career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. Like they say on the VCU campus “Engineers Make it Real!”

For more information and to attend next year, go to VCU’s School of Engineering

Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager

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