No fewer than 37 real-world projects worked on by SU students were on display at the 31st annual Projects Day on June 7 and 8. Each year the Project Center partners with businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations regionally and nationally to bring hands-on projects to engineering students.
One of this year’s projects was undertaken by a team of Electrical and Computer Engineering Students in partnership with PACCAR, a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates.
Advised by Assistant Professor Mehmet Vurkaç, the students were tasked with designing a prototype of an inventory-tracking system that increases the efficiency and accuracy of inventory management. The system uses a drone, a wheeled robot (pictured) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to store and update the locations of PACCAR outdoor assets in a central database. The collected data are displayed on a user-friendly graphical user interface allowing PACCAR employees to locate the assets with greater ease.
“The relationship that PACCAR has with Seattle University is not just a sponsorship of senior projects, it is a true partnership that allows for collaboration between students and industry professionals,” says Patrick Dean, chief engineer at Kenworth Truck Company. “The students gain real-world experience, and PACCAR gains competitive product offerings and in many cases extremely competent longtime employees.”
Other student teams worked with partners such as Starbucks, Microsoft, F5, The Lighthouse for the Blind, KiloWatts for Humanity and Seattle City Light.
Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering student TrucQuan Dang was part of a team that worked with the Mountaineers Foundation on biodiversity and vegetation management at the Rhododendron Preserve on the Kitsap Peninsula. He says, “(The project) has given me insight into the challenges that come with implementing my coursework in the real world. Not only was I given guidance, but I was also encouraged to look for my own direction to solve the problems presented to me, which helped me grow in my projected profession.”
With guidance from Environmental Science Senior Instructor Lyn Gualtieri, Dang’s team worked on a database and created a map and video that will help to enhance the growth of native species in the preserve and improve the habitat for wildlife.
“For our students, these year-long projects are about much more than the deliverable,” says Mike Quinn, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. “As they have worked together to solve the challenges put before them, the students have learned about project management, team leadership, budgeting, technical writing and oral communication. These are all crucial skills—and they put our students ahead of the curve when they begin their careers.”