Florida Tech, Northrop Grumman to Host Annual Student Design Showcase April 21

event open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Clemente Center

Florida Tech’s annual showcase of vision, design, innovation, and scholarship, also known as the Northrop Grumman Science and Engineering Student Design Showcase, is set to amaze and inspire on Friday. (Florida Tech image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech’s annual showcase of vision, design, innovation, and scholarship, also known as the Northrop Grumman Science and Engineering Student Design Showcase, is set to amaze and inspire on Friday.

The event is open to the public from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Clemente Center on the Florida Tech campus in Melbourne. More than 100 projects, from devices to posters, will be on display, representing the culmination of years of work for graduating seniors.

In 2009, a $1 million endowment gift from Northrop Grumman Corporation provided ongoing support for students’ hands-on work. Sponsorships from other local and national companies also assist.

These gifts reflect a commitment to boosting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and the value of learning beyond the classroom.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the projects featured in the 2023 showcase:

Project: ExoArm
Area: Biomedical Engineering

■ What it is: A myoelectric exoskeleton brace that utilizes an electromyography (EMG) sensor to collect the electrical signals from the arm muscles to control motors that move the brace to mimic the arm’s movement.

■ Why it matters: For those who have lost some muscular capabilities from cerebral palsy, an accident, stroke or for other reasons, this could help restore the range of motion and prevent muscular atrophy.

Project: Nuclear shipping safety
Area: Sustainability

■ What it is: The United Nations has tasked the maritime commercial shipping industry with reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. One alternative to traditional maritime energy sources is the use of nuclear energy in commercial shipping.

This project, conducted through an internship program with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), was focused on a literature review of safety incident cases on nuclear power and the maritime shipping industry and on developing a report for ABS outlining categorized safety incident cases, recommendations and lessons learned based on existing safety standards and classifications.

■ Why it matters: The research found the main contributors to nuclear safety incidents were human error and design error. The student researchers recommend detailed safety standards for training, materials testing and overall systems testing.

Project: PLA-S-TECH: PLA Sustainable Technology
Area: Mechanical engineering

■ What it is: 3D printing is extremely efficient, but it does produce some unwanted scrap filaments.

With the expected surge in this technology as its use is adopted in a growing number of industries, this project features the design, build, and testing of a machine that can break down this polylactic acid plastic, known as PLA, into smaller pieces, filter and store the pieces, melt them into a filament of a particular diameter and then extrude the recycled filament and wrap it around a spool.

■ Why it matters: This type of plastic may not be accepted at local recycling centers, so this process helps keep it out of landfills. This will be increasingly important as 3D printing becomes more widely used.

Project: Electric vehicle
Area: Electrical engineering

■ What it is: A traction inverter is as important to an electric vehicle as its batteries, as it routes the energy those batteries produce to the motor to turn the wheels. This project seeks to design and build such a device.

Then, future student teams can figure out how to integrate it into the mechanical systems of an automobile and tackle the development of self-driving software. Pictured above, team leader Thomas Francis, right , and team member Will Burk work on the traction converter.

■ Why it matters: The use of electric vehicles is going to continue to rise, and improvements to these complicated machines are always needed.

Project: Manta Buoy
Area: Ocean engineering

■ What it is: This project aims to design and manufacture a durable surface marine buoy that is able to record wave data at various times and create a user-friendly deployment plan at the local level.

■ Why it matters: Current technologies only provide accurate, large-scale data in certain regions of the world. By creating a localized data collection system, smaller islands and smaller places can benefit from this technology.

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