VCD and Mechanical Engineering Expo

Twice a year STEM holds an expo for engineering students to show off what they've built over the year. This year, the engineering students invited the Visual Communication and Design students to show off their work as well.

By the way, the expo was packed with people and there was free food. Is there a better place to be? Probably not.

A little about the VCD groups.

VCD capstones don’t just teach students how to build logos and a brand, students go out and build projects for actual companies. Imagine getting through college with some work experience and professional projects in your portfolio!

One thing that I noticed with the VCD projects is that they’ve only gotten better every year. I spoke with Colin, the capstone professor, and he said that one recent development at EWU is a growing emphasis on human-centered design. These student’s aren’t just designing logos and branding, they’re designing for people. When I see these posters I can definitely see the effort these students are putting into designing for humans.

This project was for a non-profit called Free Rein Therapeutic Riding. Free Rein uses horses to help treat physical and emotional injury or disability, so it’s already a pretty cool company. VCD students took that idea and helped build a professional looking brand off of it. I went ahead and grouped some of my favorite images by project so you all could get a good look at the work the students put in.

part of a farm door with collection of designs5 business cards in a row, photograph of a horse
small wooden gate with 4 business cards and trifold
poster woth logos and horse imagestrifold, cowboy hat
poster with font choice and web design6 business cards, trifold
poster with logos and branding

What about mechanical engineers?

Engineering students had a huge variety of projects that they could work on. Students had crazy projects ranging from geothermal heat pumps to mechanical chess!

First up was the team of Helping Hand, a forklift addon that allows people to operate a lifter independent from the forklift and remove some of the human heavy lifting that has to be done. It reminded me of a claw grabber, but this one won’t drop the stuffed bear as the design is rated to lift up to 700 pounds.

Small toy version of the helping hand forklift

The second mechanical engineering project shown was the Chess, Anyone? Chess board. This chess board can automatically move pieces and even play a physical game of chess! Computers have been able to play a strong game of chess for years but engineering students have made it so that a game with chess can now be physical instead of on the computer.

two students showing off robotic chess player

Students also tested the heat transfer of a geothermal heat pump. It’s a bit like how people pump water out of the ground, but this time it’s pumping out heat. Geothermal energy can save a alot of money on heating and cooling.

geothermal pump piping

Another group developed five mechanical Prusik brakes for climbers. I can see where they made some huge improvements! Most Prusik brakes will damage the rope if the climber falls. The brake that these students developed can keep the rope safe for up to 100 falls.

five Prusik test models

Larger cars are definitely more difficult to change tires. Unlike a typical compact car, large wheels can be a real pain to lift and move around. Engineering students built a bumper tire carrier that can help carry and re-install large spare tires easily.

tire carrier with large Jeep tire

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