CORVALLIS, Ore. – Is it possible to turn oils from landfill wastewater into biofuels while removing pollutants? What would a car look like if it were designed to be powered solely by the sun? How can you quickly determine if a penny is made of 100 percent copper (worth three cents), or a combination of zinc and copper (worth only one cent)?

And how can you do this automatically with thousands of pennies?

Engineering students at Oregon State University will showcase their solutions to these problems and others at the eighth annual OSU Engineering Expo on Friday, May 11, at the Kelley Engineering Center on campus.

The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kelley Engineering Center on campus. A free shuttle will run from the parking structure at 26th and Washington.

This year’s expo includes a “Sustainability Showcase,” where green and renewable energy technologies and processes will be on display, including a wind-powered water heater, a solar-powered sound system trailer, and technology for capturing energy from ocean waves. A “Commercialization Corner” will feature companies spun off by OSU engineering students and faculty, including Alight Technologies, creators of the WavyWand.

“This event displays the results of our hands-on teaching and learning here at Oregon State,” said Ron Adams, dean of engineering. “Our students take on complex challenges, many of them working with industry partners, to develop incredibly innovative solutions.”

In all, more than 100 student design projects, product prototypes, and other solutions to life’s engineering quandaries will be on display, including:

  • A biodiesel facility so small it fits on a utility trailer;
  • A driverless vehicle controlled by a PDA;
  • An innovative, energy-efficient process to extract oil from plants;
  • A bacteria-powered fuel cell;
  • The OSU solar vehicle team's entry in the 2007 American and World Solar Challenges;
  • A computer system that determines the best distribution of fire trucks and equipment among fire stations.

Student designers will be available to discuss their projects and the engineering that went into them. Other engineering innovations on display include student-built Formula and off-road race cars, a human-powered vehicle, and robots used in teaching at OSU and in local schools.

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Tina Batten,