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Two men with 3-D printer
Two men with 3-D printer

Professor Andrew Wessman and sophomore Daniel McConville, both of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Project Title: Heated Build Plate for Additive Manufacturing System

Team 19035 Members:
Luis Fernando Arciniaga, materials science and engineering
Edward Ian Buster, mechanical engineering
Marcus Scott, mechanical engineering
Pieter van Drielen, materials science and engineering
Francisco Yerena, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell

A 3D printer housed in the College of Engineering gives students and researchers across campus a new way to build everything from heat-resistant parts for jet engines to detailed surgical implants and tooling for research projects.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, transforms digital parts designs into physical objects by depositing molten material one layer at a time to harden into a 3D shape. This MLab Cusing 200R model, provided by Honeywell and worth about $400,000, is the first and only machine on campus that uses additive manufacturing to create metal objects.

Four metallic objects: the word "LAME," a bottle opener, a business card and a fidget spinner.

An array of objects Professor Andrew Wessman and have students have produced using additive manufacturing machines — including a bottle opener, a fidget spinner and metal business card.

“Additive manufacturing opens up a freedom for designing new components for aerospace, biomedical and automotive applications that you couldn’t make any other way,” said Andrew Wessman, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, whose lab is housing the equipment. “This machine opens up opportunities for collaborations across the college and across campus — with optical sciences, architecture and even fine arts.”

The machine, which the Honeywell team nicknamed “Kenobi” after the legendary Jedi master, constructs parts by laser melting metal powders such as stainless steel, nickel alloys and titanium.

Applications Across the Earth — and Beyond
Applications for additive manufacturing are widespread. For example, it could enable the production of replacement parts for vehicles that are no longer manufactured. Soldiers in remote areas could build equipment parts by melting down spent brass shells, broken or surplus steel parts. They can even use soil, mixed with a binding agent, as a construction material. The use of 3D printing in space exploration is specifically highlighted in the university’s strategic plan. For example, astronauts may someday repurpose regolith, or loose rocky material found on distant planets, to 3D-print replacements for broken spaceship parts.

While many additive manufacturing programs are led by mechanical engineers working to optimize the fabrication process, materials science and engineering researchers are leading the University of Arizona initiative. The department is designing better materials at the outset to produce stronger and more lightweight structures.

Man with 3-D printer

Mechanical engineering senior Ed Buster is using the 3D printer “Kenobi” to complete his senior capstone project.

“The research we’re doing here will allow people to use the metals more effectively, or to use different kinds of metal alloy,” Wessman said. “We want to identify metal alloys that are really resistant to high temperatures encountered by objects like jet engines or rockets and create better engines that are still printable.”

The machine also opens up new educational opportunities. Wessman will be teaching a metal additive manufacturing course, open to students across campus, beginning in fall 2020.

“This is the first machine in a long family of machines we hope to bring here,” said materials science and engineering department head Pierre Deymier. “This initiative is targeting not just a research program, but also an education program, because students will gain hands-on experience with the machine. In some ways, it’s also a part of a workforce development program in additive manufacturing for the state of Arizona.”


Opportunities for Students
A 2019 report by Reports and Data projects that the additive manufacturing market will reach $23.33 billion in value in 2026, making experience in the field a valuable commodity.

“Honeywell and other U.S. industry players are seeing rapid growth in hiring in additive manufacturing,” said Greg Colvin, a technical fellow at Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell provided this equipment to the department to spur innovation, educate students with hands-on experience and help provide a pipeline of engineers and scientists with additive manufacturing experience to industry.”

A group of students working on a 2020 Honeywell-sponsored senior capstone project will be among the first to use the machine. They are creating a custom build plate with temperature control capabilities to investigate how the temperature of the surface on which parts are built affects construction.

“Additive manufacturing is a huge, growing field,” said capstone project team member Ed Buster, a mechanical engineering major. “It’s a tool mechanical engineers are going to need to know in the future.”

Materials science and engineering major Louie Arciniaga is working on the project as well. He has used additive manufacturing in his role as an undergraduate research assistant with John Szivek, a BIO5 faculty member and professor of orthopaedic surgery, aerospace and mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering and physiological sciences. One of Szivek’s research projects uses 3D printing to create scaffolding around which broken bones can regrow and heal.

Materials science and engineering doctoral student Anna Hayes used a machine similar to the MLab Cusing 200R during an internship at Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, and her master’s thesis focused on additive manufacturing with regolith.

“Because it’s such a new process, there is still a lot that is not understood about the metallurgy and how changing the process can alter the properties of your final part,” she said. “It’s a big area for research, so this machine provides a valuable chance for materials science and engineering students to learn about the solidification process.”

Men in blue polo shirts, seated at a table.

The Façade Technologies team: Ramos Jiuru Chen, Sam Badger, Sean Farris, Andrew Kirima, Nikhith Vankireddy. Philippe Cutillas not pictured.

Project Title:
Custom Python API Generator for Controlling Existing User Interfaces

Team 19033 Members:
Sam Badger, electrical and computer engineering
Ramos Jiuru Chen: electrical and computer engineering
Philippe Cutillas: electrical and computer engineering and mathematics
Sean Farris: electrical and computer engineering and computer science
Andrew Kirima: systems engineering
Nikhith Vankireddy: engineering management

Sponsor: Façade Technologies

Making Software Automation Simple

Electrical and computer engineering student Sam Badger always liked the idea of starting his own business.

While interning at Mahr Inc. in spring 2019, he developed a library to automate a piece of software. After he moved on to a summer internship at Raytheon, he started thinking about ways to build on that previous work.

With the arrival of his senior year, Badger realized he had the opportunity to shape his capstone experience if he started a company to sponsor his own project, so he did.

He’s now the CEO of the software startup Façade Technologies. For his capstone project, he and his teammates are developing software called Facile, which creates application programming interfaces, or APIs, for other software. APIs act as intermediaries between two applications. But the APIs he and his team are creating are designed to interact with graphical user interfaces, and they have a variety of purposes.

For example, they could allow people with little programming experience to add an extra feature to existing software or make the user interface easier to operate. The company name comes from the idea that, though another application may be running in the background, a user will only be able to see a simple mask, or “facade.”

“Facile produces APIs that automate the role of the user,” Badger said. “Maybe you have a lot of software that you want to be more connected. Say, you want to extract data from an inventory program, insert some of it into a tax program and post some of it to your website. Multiple Facile APIs could work together to achieve this.”

Software and Soft Skills

The project has been a learning experience in more ways than one. Badger had to build on both his software development chops and his leadership skills on the project, which is part of a pilot effort in the capstone program to teach students Agile process. The team members are also expanding their coding abilities to tackle programming challenges.

“I walked into this project without any knowledge on how to code in Python,” said Philippe Cutillas, who is studying electrical and computer engineering and math. “Since then, Python has quickly become one of my favorite programming languages. This project has given me a glimpse of what it would be like working professionally as a software developer, and I proudly list it on my resume.”

After graduation, Badger hopes to license usage of Facile.

“What’s keeping me going is knowing that we have a product here that could be competitive with other, similar products,” Badger said. “We have a lot of ideas for how to improve on this project after senior design is over, so we’ll continue developing for a while.”

Students touring brewing company

Team 19055 learns the details of brewing at Barrio.

The technical skillsets engineering students build at the University of Arizona – such as writing code and designing and building machines – often go to good use at engineering-focused companies. However, these skills are also necessary to keep a wide range of businesses running, such as restaurants, ceramics factories and breweries. Three capstone projects, sponsored by such companies, exemplify how engineering is something that impacts all facets of life.

Rolling Taquitos

Mateo Otero, chef and owner at Rollies Mexican Patio, used to work for Greek life at the University of Arizona. When he opened his own restaurant specializing in rolled tacos, or taquitos, in 2017, he quickly found he was selling about 800 each day. While looking for a way to make the rolling process more efficient, he recalled his days on campus, where he often saw engineering students working on their senior projects.

“I thought that bringing a fun project like a taco rolling machine to the senior students at the University of Arizona would be different and fun,” he said. “I’ve seen firsthand what the students are able to create and complete so I never had a doubt that they could do it!”

The students of Team 19042 are developing an automated machine that should be able to coat a tortilla in oil, fill it with stuffing, roll the tortilla, and apply a flour paste – 300 times an hour.

“This project is going to be a game changer for my business,” Otero said. “I’ll be able to cut back on costs and grow at the same time.”

Smoothing Edges

David Sounart is the VP of manufacturing at HF Coors, a Tucson-based ceramics manufacturer and seller. Dave Gilblom, a mentor for the capstone program, is a frequent customer of HF Coors, and the two men have had many talks about ceramics automation. While many parts of the HF Coors factory are automated, Sounart is turning to Team 19051 to extend the capabilities of a particular mechanism.

The existing machine smooths out the edges of round pieces using a stationary spinning sponge, which applies just enough pressure to remove excess clay from the piece as it rotates. However, the factory also produces plenty of pieces that aren’t round.

“We wanted something where we could put non-round shapes, like ovals and rectangles, and have the sponge move to track the edge,” Sounart said. “Right now, we have to do them by hand.”

Sounart is pleased with his team so far. They’ve successfully incorporated his feedback into their work, and they’ve visited the factory several times to get a feel for how the machinery works.

Chilling Out

Dennis Arnold, brewmaster, owner and founder of Barrio Brewing, has long been acquainted with UArizona engineers. Many have worked in his Tucson brewery over the years, and his daughter is a senior in systems engineering.

Arnold designed the chilling system at Barrio himself, making many adjustments along the way. A large part of the process for Team 19055 is to come in and survey the system’s current state. That means measuring every piece of pipe and examining every motor pump and compressor.

“We’ve been such a mom and pop shop, building our own things and seeing what flies,” he said. “With 28 years of adding to a system, you’re never going to have blueprints.”

After the team concludes their initial analysis, they’re tasked with determining the optimal way for the system to run. They will then identify the deficiencies between the ideal set up and the current state. Finally, the team will design a prototype for a more efficient, affordable method.

“This will take us into the 21st century, in a way,” Arnold said.

Don McDonald earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Arizona, then went on to attend graduate school for electrical engineering and business. Since then, he has made his career in the upper management levels of engineering companies. He was the founder, president and CEO of DRS Consulting, Inc.; the president and CEO of JDS Uniphase; and the COO of Intense Photonics.

In fall 2018, he became a capstone project mentor, a role where he can share his expertise in engineering management and the semiconductor industry with the next generation of engineers.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I really enjoy the challenge and the opportunity to develop the teams and individuals in a more realistic, businesslike atmosphere where there is continuity for an entire year. There is a methodology for the team members to apply all their engineering skills, while also developing project management and teamwork skills — all within a defined program.

What is your personal experience of having a mentor? How did it help you?

I personally never had a designated mentor, but I did have some managers at technical companies that were very supportive and provided career guidance. They were there for me to discuss alternatives between a purer engineering focus and a larger management focus.

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

I believe there is a great deal of value for teams and individuals in being on mentored design teams. This is because they absolutely get a view of how companies and sponsors structure and value projects. They are able to participate in the definition of the project: the first main element of the yearlong program is to define an adequate proposal which describes the project and meets the sponsor’s requirements. A design project like this requires teamwork and project management skills to be really successful. The basic structure follows industry methodologies for designing and bringing a new product to market. All this insight is very valuable for team members, for it simulates many of the experiences they will have in their first jobs in industry.

What’s your favorite team or project you have mentored, and why?

It is difficult to choose a favorite project or team, but one of the very interesting ones from last year was the team that developed a system to stress the cartilage being grown from stem cells. They had to develop a very precise motor/screw system, a container for the growth medium, and the scaffolds upon which the cartilage was grown, as well as strain gauge sensors on every scaffold to sense the actual strain being applied. They also went beyond the requirements of the project and emulated the actual time-based strain of a knee when steps are being taken.

Describe an aha! moment you experienced while mentoring a design team, when you saw clearly how students benefit from mentorship.

I believed in the mentorship, so I expected the teams to really benefit. But, an aha! moment was when two teams finished the project and each of the sponsors said it was “ready to go to market.” This was a really significant statement, in my opinion, on the value of mentorship.

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

Mentors should be willing to invest the time to understand projects well enough that they can provide teams with the guidance that a similar team in an industrial setting would receive.

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

Employers benefit from the program because the projects emulate the “define, design, build and test” work that is required in industry. The methodology is very similar to industry, and students are much better prepared from the beginning of their careers to be successful in the typical jobs with which they will be involved.

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to learn: Have you climbed Everest, crossed the Atlantic solo, invented a remarkable gadget, played guitar in a rock band, volunteered for a disaster-recovery program? Tell us something fun, impressive or unique that paints a picture of who you are.

In terms of surprises, I probably don’t have too many, but I did greatly enjoy the opportunity to work in Europe for 10 and a half years with three different companies in three different countries. One other thing I really enjoyed was backpacking and exploring across the Grand Canyon (North Rim to South Rim) twice — four days once and five days the second time.

What else would you like us to know?

I enjoy every minute of the mentoring program and enjoy working with every team, team member and project.


A man sits on an exam table with his legs crossed and his ankle and foot on display. Next to him is a man in a lab coat holding a model of a foot and ankle bones.

Project Title: Wireless Body Temperature Sensor for Implantable Ports

BD logoSponsor: BD

Team 18047 Members:
Allison Edwards, biomedical engineering
Marc Gefrides, electrical and computer engineering
Ian Jackson, biomedical engineering
Alexys Manring, biomedical engineering
Josh Pace, biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering
Matthew Slobodianuk, biomedical engineering

A man sits on an exam table with his legs crossed and his ankle and foot on display. Next to him is a man in a lab coat holding a model of a foot and ankle bones.

Biomedical engineer regains footing after severe crash with new outlook on the medical industry

Biomedical engineering honors student Ian Jackson was planning to go to medical school after graduation. For two years, he had been shadowing Dr. Daniel Latt, an orthopedic surgeon at Banner Health and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Arizona.

His senior capstone project, sponsored by BD, formerly C.R. Bard, was a wireless sensor designed to monitor the body temperature of cancer patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, and alert them of abnormal rises in temperature via a smartphone app.

“The reason most of us choose BME is we’re really interested in helping people,” Jackson said.

He certainly didn’t expect to spend his senior year experiencing what it was like to need such help. But in October 2018, while he was riding his motorcycle home from a design team meeting, a car ran a stop sign and plowed into him, dragging him 40 feet down the road. His left leg was trapped under the vehicle before a group of nearby students lifted the car off him.

Paramedics rushed Jackson over to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and into a 10-hour surgery, where they stabilized his fractured vertebrae; broken femur, tibia and fibula; and multiple broken bones and torn-off skin on his left foot.

When he woke up, doctors were discussing a foot amputation.

The Help of a Mentor

Jackson’s mind went to his mentor: One of Latt’s specialties is operating on patients with Charcot arthropathy, a complication of diabetes that can weaken the bones in the foot. Jackson had watched people come from all over the country to have Latt fix situations other doctors said were impossible. Latt took a look at Jackson’s X-rays and said he thought his foot could be salvaged.

Thanks to the efforts of Latt and other doctors from Banner Health, Jackson is fully on both feet today. He’s walking normally and relearning how to run and squat.

“Our goal was to get him a foot that was square to the ground that he could walk on,” Latt said. “I expected it to be very stiff, and likely somewhat painful. So this is pretty amazing.”

To Excel and Empathize

Jackson returned to class and team meetings within a few weeks, although in a wheelchair for the first few months.

“Without this team, I wouldn’t have made it through senior design,” he said. “They really pulled through for me and helped me get back on my feet – literally.”

Jackson’s senior project and his time in the hospital made him rethink his original plan to go to medical school in favor of finding ways to improve the patient experience. While he was in the hospital, he used several of BD’s products, such as their catheters, giving him a firsthand look at how biomedical devices impact patients’ lives. In the year since his accident, he’s created designs for a more comfortable catheter and a bed that can identify pressure points on patients to prevent ulcers.

His new career plan is to build a design laboratory where he can bring his inventions to life. He’s also considering partnering with schools to provide hands-on engineering experience for K-12 students. After all, his engineering education played a part in getting him to where he is today.

“If I wasn’t a biomedical engineering major, I don’t think I would have even considered that I might be able to change the industry to be patient-focused,” he said.

Pat Caldwell
Pat Caldwell

Pat Caldwell holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Arizona State University.

Over the course of his engineering and management career, he worked for companies such as Motorola, Advanced Ceramics and Raytheon, where he started as an engineer and retired as vice president of operations.

Since retirement, he’s served as a business strategy consultant for manufacturing companies, including Naat’aanii Development Corp., a Navajo-owned startup.

Now, he’s taking on a new challenge: mentoring senior undergraduate design teams for the University of Arizona Engineering Design Program.

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

I believe in the power of engineering to change the world.

What is your personal experience of having a mentor? How did it help you?

My informal mentors were extremely helpful – everyone can use a sounding board.

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

Students get a good head start on their competition. It’s close to real-world experience.

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

As an instructor, I saw how students can achieve great things with the right discipline, work ethic and instruction.

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

It can be a great experience.

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

They know they are getting an employee who is ahead of the normal learning curve.

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

I once considered majoring in music. I love marching bands, symphonic bands and choirs. I am also a big fan of science fiction.

UA Engineering Design Team 18032
UA Engineering Design Team 18032

NASA selected the low-cost space-qualified camera built by Team 18032 to fly aboard a future space mission as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

Six 2018-2019 senior design teams aiming to advance space exploration worked on miniature satellites for collecting and relaying data. One CubeSat was selected for a NASA mission, others have moon landings in their sights, and still others are outfitted for studying climate change on Earth.

CubeSats are made up of 10-centimeter cubic units and typically weigh less than 3 pounds. Think so small you can hold it in your hand, like a tissue box, or carry easily, like an empty briefcase. These inexpensive satellites were first used about 20 years ago by students learning to design and build spacecraft for low-Earth orbit. They can be launched for about $40,000 as opposed to the millions of dollars most satellites cost.

These days ride-along CubeSats are deployed from larger space vehicles, sometimes for interplanetary missions.

“CubeSats are kind of revolutionizing space exploration right now,” said optical sciences and engineering senior Maggie Yvonne Kautz.

Making Off-the-Shelf Cameras Space Ready

Team 18032, sponsored by the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, built a low-cost, space-qualified camera, which was selected to fly as auxiliary payload aboard a future space mission as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

Traditional space-qualified cameras cost up to $100,000 and are not suitable for nanosatellites. So, the team used a commercial camera with a novel inflatable antenna to demonstrate transmitting video back to Earth.

Team members included Casey Adam Croaker, electrical and computer engineering and systems engineering double major; Lorenzo Dova and Rishikesh Mallela, mechanical engineering; Samuel Scot McCoy and Joe Padish, aerospace engineering; and Adriana Mitchell, optical sciences and engineering.

“We ruggedized it, space qualified it and got the cost down to $3,363,” said Padish. “That was something we were never able to do in classes — design something that would actually be machined for practical use. It was exciting to see how it all came together.”

Autonomously Capturing Images of Star Groups

GEOSTUA Engineering Design Team 18088

Team 18088 created a CubeSat to orbit Earth and capture, store and send back images of groups of stars. The adaptable design allows companies to insert their own optical systems into the satellite.

GEOST sponsored the team, which included Fernando Coronado, mechanical engineering; Adam Humeres, aerospace and mechanical engineering; Maggie Yvonne Kautz, optical sciences and engineering; Joel Harrison Thibault, electrical and computer engineering; and Andrew Martin, engineering management.

“I was really interested in how we could miniaturize satellites and use them to explore space and get out there little by little,” said Humeres.

Affordably Researching Glacial Thickness

UA Department of Aerospace & Mechanical EngineeringUA Engineering Design Team 18095Current research on the thickness of glaciers is often done using radar, but gathering this data from the surface or the air above the glaciers is time-consuming and costly. So Team 18095 created a CubeSat with a radar and camera to capture data about glaciers from low Earth polar orbit.

The system includes four lightweight inflatable antennas and a simple deployment mechanism.

The UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering sponsored the team of aerospace engineers: Anthony Nicholas Delmonti, Samuel Scot McCoy, Joe Padish, Alejandro Daniel Salgado, Xavier S. Tapia, Zhenyang Xiao and Neil Ernest Patterson.

Detecting Ice to Understand Climate Change

CubeSat Radar for Ice ObservationUsing mostly off-the-shelf components, Team 18096 designed a CubeSat infrastructure to support a radar instrument for imaging the size and depth of ice sheets on Earth. CubeSats with the size of antenna they needed didn’t exist, so the team created a larger one by reverse engineering similar designs.

Aerospace engineering majors Caelan Caudell, Yusuke Ishii, Dakota Mathez, Scott Norrix, Jessica Marie Reilly and Alex McCarthy were on the team sponsored by their home department.

“Scientists can use that info to combat problems like climate change,” said McCarthy, adding, “The project was a really big challenge — no one had ever told us how to design a CubeSat before.”

Outfitting Satellite for Lunar Data Collection

UA Engineering Design Team 18099The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory also sponsored a team of aerospace engineers — Brandon Daniel Burnett, Victor Emmanuel Padilla, Anthony James Riley, Jesse Christopher Samitas Chavarria and Miguel Angel Donayre — to develop a fully autonomous CubeSat capable of landing on the moon and collecting magnetic field data.

Team 18099’s design included a navigation system, camera, two solar panel arrays to convert sunlight into energy, four engines and two onboard computers.

“We really tried to challenge ourselves,” said Padilla. “Seeing the fruits of our labor come to life is the best.”

Exploring the Surface of the Moon

UA Engineering Design Team 18100Another group of aerospace engineering majors sponsored by their home department — Ben Christy, Garrett Andrew Kay, Luis Rosano, Adam Ross, Bryan Patrick Schwartzman and Chandon Jaymes Lines — created a CubeSat to explore the lunar surface.

CubeSats aren’t normally designed to land, so to fit the landing gear into the device, Team 18100 built it out of a nitinol shape memory alloy, which expands when exposed to solar radiation.

“It’s basically like a big jack-in-the-box,” said Schwartzman.

The team also designed a hollow drill bit to collect and store a 10-gram sample, so there’s no need for a separate carrying container.

“We got to decide exactly where we wanted to go and what we wanted to study,” said Lines. “It was super cool to develop the mission ourselves.”

Project Title: Payment Transaction System Using QR Codes

Team 18080 Members:
Muneeb Ahmed, electrical and computer engineering
Amanda Ruth Chesin, electrical and computer engineering
Corey Justin Miner, electrical and computer engineering
Sanarya Salah, systems engineering
Benjamin Paul Wodhams, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Microsoft

Students at UA Engineering Design Day

No Cash, No Problem

A homeless man holding a sign asking for money on a freeway ramp first got Microsoft employees Nick Keehn and Holly Beale thinking. Would-be donators were driving by too fast to stop and give the man anything. For that matter, most people don’t carry cash anymore. Maybe a phone application was the answer.

That’s how senior design project 18080 was born.

A team of University of Arizona electrical and computer engineering majors and a systems engineering major developed a website and phone application for users to create and print QR codes, which can be scanned and used for secure payment.

“The idea is to provide an application for homeless people, or people who have jobs based on tips, like waiters and doormen,” said systems engineering team member and alumna Sanarya Salah. “When people are driving or need to leave a tip, they can just scan the QR code.”

Here’s how it works: People wishing to leave a tip or make a donation take a photo of the QR code on their smartphones and are directed to download the app. Then they link their payment information and select how much they want to donate. With an anonymity option, maximum donation limit, automatic logout function and — perhaps most importantly — secure information storage, the payment method is safe.

“The code is encrypted, so even we, the developers, can’t go and see financial information,” Salah said.

From School Project to City Streets

Microsoft sponsored its first Engineering Design Program project in 2017-2018, and Beale and Keehn decided this would be a good fit for the company’s second year with the program.

“It’s just good to interact with the next generation of engineers,” said Keehn, a senior automation engineer at Microsoft. “I wish my school had this senior design, where it reached out to industry instead of having internal projects that didn’t have any bearing on real life.”

The QR code payment system may have a bearing on real life sooner than the team realized.

Microsoft is looking to collaborate with a business school, perhaps the UA’s own Eller College of Management, to take the project to another city, such as Chicago. The business students will collaborate with homeless shelters on a way for people to make donations using the app.

“The UA team was just great from start to finish,” Keehn said. “They were self-paced, on time and under budget.”

Job-Ready Graduates

The senior design project left team members, who won the $2,500 Microsoft Award for Best System Software Design at Engineering Design Day 2019, well prepared for their new roles.

Amanda Chesin accepted a position with American Express, Corey Miner is working at Facebook, and Salah has a full-time job with Caterpillar’s software team.

“Part of what I do here is work with the graphical interfaces for the operators,” said Salah. “So, it’s really nice I gained skills like knowing how to model the screen, or understanding what’s user friendly and what’s not.”