A man stands behind a table with stickers on it, while a young woman wearing a white shirt and carrying a stack of papers asks him a question.

Dennis Arnold, brew master, owner and founder of Barrio Brewing, chats with an engineering student at Open House 2019.

Among this year’s 81 interdisciplinary capstone projects are a taco roller, a basketball shooter and a brewery chilling system.

Hundreds of senior undergraduates attended the University of Arizona Engineering Design Program’s Open House on Aug. 29 in search of the perfect capstone project, while company and university representatives pitched their concepts in hopes of attracting top students to their teams.

Longtime Sponsors Return

Several longtime partners returned for another year of support. Honeywell is sponsoring eight projects in the 2019-2020 academic year, including a connected battery management system and a method to characterize distortion in additive manufacturing. Roche Tissue Diagnostics is sponsoring several projects related to the medical field.

A man in a collared shirt carrying a red folder hands a sheet of paper to a smiling woman seated at a table

Optical sciences and engineering senior Evan Mekenney, right, hands his resume to Lisa Bennett, a mechanical engineer at GEOST and UA alumna.

Raytheon is sponsoring three, including a basketball shooting machine.

“It has to use a sensor system to recognize where the hoop is – to get a launch item to a target,” said Daniel Overton, senior info systems technologist at Raytheon. “It’s a fun way to get people the skills Raytheon is looking for.”

Launching New Partnerships

The program also welcomed 13 brand-new sponsors, including Intel Corp. and local businesses Barrio Brewing, Mister Car Wash, Rincon Research and Rollies Mexican Patio.

All three people on Mister Car Wash’s research and development team are UA alumni. William Blair, a 2016 graduate of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, talked about the company’s two projects: a water reclamation system and a machine vision system to increase car wash efficiency.

Two men in gray polo shirts, wearing lanyards, stand behind a table with a black Mister Car Wash sign on it.

William Blair and Rob Heisterman from Mister Car Wash spoke to seniors about their company’s projects.

Mateo Otero, chef and owner of Rollies Mexican Patio, first heard about the Engineering Design Program while working as a chef for Greek life on the UA campus, where he would see engineering students collaborating on elaborate contraptions for their senior projects. When he opened his own restaurant nearly two years ago, they came back to mind.

“We specialize in rolled tacos at our restaurant, so we’re constantly rolling tacos – we go through about 800 a day,” he said. “We want a countertop roller that can roll about 500 to 800 tacos per hour.”

Dennis Arnold, the brewmaster, owner and founder of Barrio Brewing, needs an optimized chilling system for his brewery. When he first started the company 28 years ago, he learned as he went, resulting in a chilling system he now likens to Frankenstein. With his daughter, Raegan, entering her senior year as an industrial engineering student, he decided to sponsor a project.

“I kind of taught myself how to do all the HVAC and electrical stuff,” he said. “I just build stuff, but I’d love to know why it works or why it doesn’t.”

The Engineering Design Program is also strengthening its partnership with Pima Community College and launching a collaboration with the UA School of Information. This year, several students from PCC’s machine tool technology program and the UA iSchool will join senior design teams to augment engineering knowledge with their machining experience and information science backgrounds.

Onward to Design Day

After seniors and sponsors met in person at Open House, both groups ranked their preferences. An algorithm matched students to projects, assigning balanced interdisciplinary teams to each real-world challenge.

The undergraduate engineers are now hard at work, gearing up to display their efforts at the next Engineering Design Day on May 4, 2020.