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Problem-solving projects to be featured at SDSU’s Engineering Expo 

Students present their senior design project at the 2022 Engineering Expo at SDSU.
SDSU students will present their solutions to real-world problems at the April 26 Engineering Expo at the Raven Precision Agriculture Center on campus.

South Dakota State University’s Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering invites the public to the Raven Precision Agriculture Center on campus to view engineering students’ problem-solving ideas.

SDSU engineering students will present solutions to real-world problems at the Engineering Expo on Wednesday, April 26. A total of 45 projects will be presented by 173 students.

The senior design projects at this year’s event come from students within five of the engineering college’s majors: mechanical, electrical, civil, agricultural and biosystems engineering and computer science. Public viewing is open from 9-10 a.m. and noon-2:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony to follow.

Attendees will be able to visit groups of students stationed throughout the center with their posters, projects and even demonstrations to learn about what the students have been working on since last August, said Todd Letcher, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Visitors can talk to the seniors and ask questions about their design process, testing results, economic benefit and more.

The students’ work will also be judged by local and regional engineers.

“The judges are people who have been working in the industry anywhere from one to 40 years. They’re really trying to figure out, did the students follow a design process, did they learn something as they went through all their classes, did they apply it to their project properly? And then in the end, is the project worthwhile? Did we create something that is useful to society?” Letcher said.

Project topics are wide-ranging, from designing a wheelchair-accessible lawnmower to creating a window lighting system that treats seasonal affective disorder and anything in between. Some of the work is very complex, Letcher said, with one NASA-related project involving three rovers and a battery-charging station for the moon. Other students’ projects focused on wastewater treatment plants, intersection and bridge design, and agricultural equipment.

Judges will determine the top six projects and award prizes.

Some past students have done so well on their projects that they created an LLC, and many of the projects are sponsored by companies that may utilize the results as new or improved equipment and processes.

Letcher said the students are applying what they learned in many classes from the past four years in their projects. The average student has spent approximately 10 hours per week outside of class time on their project, and some more than that.

The college will also host high schoolers at Jackrabbit Engineering Day on April 26. The immersive experience is for students interested in engineering fields. They’ll learn about the programs in the college, take part in the Engineering Expo, and connect with engineering faculty, students and industry partners. The college anticipates 185 high school students and their parents to be in attendance.