Monthly Archives: February 2019

A man in a suit standing next to five students wearing blue polo shirts and holding a giant check for $1,500
A man in a suit standing next to five students wearing blue polo shirts and holding a giant check for $1,500

Frank Broyles presents the Frank Broyles Engineering Ethics Award to Team 17048 at Design Day 2018.


Frank Broyles graduated from the University of Arizona with a mining engineering degree in 1968. He went on to earn his law degree from the University of Texas, and has been working as an attorney for the last 45 years.

He’s been involved in the Engineering Design Program for the last several years, first as a judge at Design Day, and then going on to sponsor the Frank Broyles Engineering Ethics Award, which recognizes a team that resolved a significant ethical issue, such as settling a conflict or resisting the temptation to take a shortcut. This year, he’s sponsoring a student project for the first time.

Though he’s had an interest in sponsoring a project for years, his career as a lawyer didn’t present many engineering challenges. It was in another part of his life, as an avid golfer, that he found a problem that needed solving.

A New Par-t of the Engineering Design Program

On par-3 holes, crews of people head out early every morning to mark places where the holes should be dug on the course, and then measure the distance between the holes and the areas where golfers tee off. They record the distances on signs so golfers can use the information to gauge how far to hit balls and which clubs to use. However, the distances are often off by 10 to 20 yards.

“It just leaves a bad taste in the mouths of golfers who are thinking, ‘I hit with a 7-iron because it said 165 yards when it was really 140, so I hit over and the ball went into the water,’” Broyles said. “But a drone can measure these distances accurately. And the lightbulb just went off in my head: I see so many drone projects here at Design Day.”

Broyles asked Team 18028 to create a drone system to measure these distances and paint the points on the green where holes should be dug. His No. 1 priority: The drones must be designed so that, even if they crash onto the green, they won’t splatter paint everywhere.

He’s flown out from Texas to meet with the team several times, and has twice even brought along a golf agronomy expert from his favorite resort to answer their questions. So far, he says the students have blown him away. Judging from the team’s critical design review, Broyles estimated an outside consulting firm would charge $50,000 to $60,000 to finish the project.

“There ought to be a waiting list for people and companies to do senior design projects, “ he said. “Because these kids do such a good job, and it’s great value for the money.”

Team 18004 is developing a greenhouse SMART watering system for Bayer.

Recruiters take notice of University of Arizona engineering graduates – and one of the reasons is the know-how seniors gain through their capstone design projects.

On Aug. 23, 2018, students met with representatives looking for the right team to develop projects that parallel real life at the design program’s annual open house. More than 85 of those projects will be on display at this year’s Design Day in the Student Union Ballroom and on the UA Mall.

Plan to join us April 29 for Engineering Design Day 2019! Contact us for details about how to attend.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, Heather Hilzendeger came to the UA and earned her Master of Business Administration in 2000.

She was an engineering program manager at Honeywell, a career she fostered for more than 30 years before retiring and becoming a lecturer in the UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

Hilzendeger is now taking on a new role as mentor for the Engineering Design Program, tackling capstone project challenges with the students during the 2018-2019 academic year.

What inspired you to become a mentor in the first place?

As a female engineer beginning my career in the 1970s, I sometimes felt like an outsider in the work environment, as if I didn’t really belong with the group of my peers. I saw this mentoring assignment as an opportunity to be a real-life example to current students that engineers and engineering leaders are a diverse group.

I am enjoying being a part of the university and getting the opportunity to watch the students develop over the semester. The students definitely have risen to meet challenges. The teams work with the skills they have, which means they do not necessarily start the project with all the skills the project demands. The students are willing to step up, and learn new tools and new skills to fill the gaps.

How does being on a mentored design team help students in the professional world?

A few of the students in my section have already commented to me that they have been able to draw on their understanding of the standard engineering process taught in this course to successfully respond to questions presented to them in their ongoing job interviews. In addition to teaching them a robust engineering development process, this course provides valuable lessons on working with and developing team members, and on giving and receiving constructive criticism.

Describe an aha! moment you experienced while mentoring a design team.

Some students had a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look when initially launching their projects. It has been rewarding to see them learn to break the project down into manageable parts and to move forward with concrete designs, which will hopefully result in working prototypes in the spring.

What advice would you offer to others considering mentoring a design team?

I recommend it. It brings a sense of youthfulness to career engineers who may have forgotten how it feels to be a college student.

How do employers benefit when they hire students who have been on a mentored senior design team?

Teamwork is a biggie, and being aware that large, complicated projects require that engineers work not so much like lone tinkerers/inventors in the garage, but more as a well-orchestrated group with each engineer contributing their part to a larger goal.

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to learn.

I haven’t climbed Mount Everest, but when one considers how much of a geek I have been in my professional career, it may be a surprise to learn that my personal hobbies tend to venture far away from high tech.

I enjoy working with fiber arts in my free time. A few years ago, I completed a master’s certificate specializing in hand-spinning fibers into yarn from Olds College. I enjoy starting with natural unprocessed raw materials — such as wool shorn from locally raised sheep, cotton gathered from local fields and cocoons harvested from silk worms — and then processing, dying and spinning the fibers into unique yarns for use in weaving and knitting projects for my home and family.