Science / Technology and Health

Electrifying Education

Written by Mike Thee

June 16, 2014

3 engineering students working in a lab together

SU wins two engineering awards and continues an impressive run.

A team of SU Electrical and Computer Engineering students has won the $25,000 grand prize for the 2014 NCEES Engineering Award for Connecting Professional Practice and Education. SU's project was selected out of 37 submissions. Another SU team, comprised of Civil and Environmental Engineering students, won a $7,500 award. NCEES, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, is a nonprofit organization made up of engineering and surveying licensing boards. 

This marks the fourth consecutive year that Seattle University has captured two of the six NCEES awards. The university has won eight of the 24 awards given out over the past four years.

SU's grand prize-winning team designed a microgrid system consisting of wind and solar power that will provide electricity to a primary school in rural Kenya. Many of the school's 300 students are orphans of parents who died of HIV/AIDS. The project's design uses pre-manufactured equipment and includes a complete wiring diagram for the power source, controls and power transmission to a charging station that will charge more than 60 portable battery kits per day. The system is expected to be implemented this summer. 

"We are proud that the grand prize was awarded to one of our humanitarian projects," said Dean Mike Quinn of the College of Science and Engineering. "Seattle University has established a tradition of completing humanitarian engineering projects in developing countries. This particular project will improve living standards in Kenya by increasing access to electricity in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. This project really has it all: a praiseworthy goal, significant financial support from the Alstom Foundation, and a great team effort from students, faculty and professional engineers."

NCEES awardees are selected based on a number of criteria including their collaborative nature, benefit to society, multidisciplinary and effectiveness in developing new knowledge or skills.   The jury that selected SU's project praised its strong interaction with professional engineers as well as its applications for communities in the United States and abroad. 

The second award-winning SU team won a $7,500 Engineering Award from NCEES for their project titled "Historic Landmark Incline Lift Structural Evaluation and Retrofit." 

"It is imperative that students preparing to enter the engineering profession understand the vital importance of technical competency and ethical practice," said NCEES President Patty Mamola, P.E. "The (award-winning) projects, which represent a variety of engineering disciplines, are great examples of innovative ways to prepare students for professional practice. We hope they will inspire other engineering programs to incorporate similar collaborations." 

SU's success in garnering NCEES awards reflects the College of Science and Engineering's long held commitment to bringing real-world projects into the curriculum-most notably through the Project Center , which facilitates collaborations between SU students and industry partners.