In a true show of Wildcat spirit, students working on senior design projects decide the show must go on.

Physical distancing guidelines mandated by the university and state and local governments mean that Craig M. Berge Design Day 2020, traditionally a large campus gathering of students, judges, sponsors and visitors, will not take place as originally scheduled. However, engineering seniors in Interdisciplinary Capstone and major-specific capstone courses are keeping the tradition alive in a reimagined, virtual Design Day.

“This Design Day is certainly unlike any other,” said Ara Arabyan, director of the Interdisciplinary Capstone course. “Both project sponsors and student teams have demonstrated exceptional flexibility, creativity and resilience to solve unforeseen problems in extremely unusual circumstances.”

Due to restrictions on physical group meetings and the closure of all on-campus fabrication and testing facilities, many teams are unable to complete their projects as originally planned. Thus, capstone staff and student teams have worked diligently with project sponsors and mentors to create new parameters and expectations for final projects.

“Rather than present to judges in person, senior design teams are recording video presentations about their projects for Design Day judges,” said Don Newman, Design Day coordinator. “After the judging is complete and $45,250 in cash prizes awarded, the videos will be available on YouTube for the public to view.”

Students have switched gears from meeting in laboratories and machine shops to collaborating over Zoom and other online meeting software. Teams with international students who have returned to their home countries are scheduling meetings across the world’s time zones. Sponsors such as Raytheon have stepped up to fabricate parts for teams that have lost access to crucial campus facilities. The members of Team 19101 are helping their sponsor, Micro FDM, 3D-print face shields for health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

While this is the college’s 18th annual Design Day, it is the first Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Day. In 2019, a generous gift from the Berge family led to the formation of the Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program, which provides students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience throughout their undergraduate years. In recognition of the gift and the new program, the college has also renamed Design Day.

“Though it’s different than what we initially envisioned, the college is extremely proud to present the inaugural Craig M. Berge Design Day,” said David W. Hahn, Craig M. Berge dean. “We are grateful for the hard work and adaptability of our students, staff, faculty and industry partners. It was a team effort.”

Virtual Design Day will take place on May 5, after which project video presentations can be viewed at page.video/UADesignDay2020.