CORVALLIS, Ore. – Hundreds of school students, business people and others from the Pacific Northwest will converge at Oregon State University this week to interact with senior engineering students who are displaying hands-on projects, prototypes and other engineering innovations.

The ninth annual OSU Engineering Expo will be from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 9, and is free and open to the public. It has grown to occupy the atrium and all four floors of the Kelley Engineering Center, with some displays – including robot races – spilling out onto the surrounding streets and sidewalks.

Many of the more than 100 senior design projects on display include those sponsored by industry partners – a business or agency in search of an engineering solution to a unique problem. The OSU student teams then roll up their sleeves and labor for months, applying what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world engineering challenges.

A few of the projects featured this year are:

· A new type of building insulation made from recycled plastic bags and styrofoam trays.

· A phone-to-phone data collection method that uses the simple messaging system in cell phones to quickly transmit medical records. This project, which is especially applicable in developing countries, is so promising that its industry sponsor Microsoft is taking a member of the student team to Uganda for three weeks this summer to deploy the system.

· A video game controller, sponsored by Cypress Semiconductor, that can be reconfigured to include oversized buttons, eyebrow switches, sip-and-puff controls, and other accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to play video games.

· A colorful, programmable, interactive music machine that features visible inner workings, giving people the opportunity to compose and “see” their musical compositions being played. It was developed for the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences Program at OSU.

· A remotely-controlled SWAT reconnaissance vehicle outfitted with special sensors and cameras that allow police departments to safely observe and survey a potentially dangerous situation from a safe distance. This was developed in partnership with the Salem Police Department, and the project team includes students from mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering.

The event also includes a “Sustainability Showcase,” where green and renewable energy technologies and processes will be on display, including an electric motorcycle, a solar-powered sound system trailer, a biodiesel manufacturing system, building insulation made from recycled plastic, and more. A “Commercialization Corner” will feature projects by OSU engineering students and faculty that are headed toward commercialization.

Other engineering innovations on display include student-built formula and off-road race cars, a concrete canoe, a steel bridge, and the popular Robo*Palooza featuring the TekBots Triathlon and the FIRST robots from local high schools.

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

New this year is the event’s grand marshal, an honor bestowed on former State Sen. Ryan Deckert, who will announce the People’s Choice Award.

Parking is available in the parking structure located at 26th and Washington, with free shuttle service to the Engineering Expo. More information on the event can be obtained on the web at

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Tina Batten,