OREM — With a shout, electronic automation and robotics technology student Austin Scoresby flings another Utah Valley University T-shirt from his homemade cannon.
“Fire in the hole!”
Scoresby’s T-shirt cannon was one of two dozen senior projects on display Friday at UVU’s Engineering Technology Fair.
A joint effort between three of the university’s engineering programs — electronic automation and robotics, mechatronics, and pre-engineering — the tech fair gives graduating engineering students one last chance to show off their skills.
“I just really wanted to build a cannon,” said Scoresby, explaining his unorthodox project choice. “T-shirts are probably a safer way to do that.”
Alongside such whimsical projects as a robotic fondue arm and “Tesla coils,” which students used to broadcast the “Mission: Impossible” theme song using crackling purple bolts of electricity, Scoresby’s cannon sits in good company.
The apparent creativity is a welcome sight to assistant engineering professor Diane Lundahl.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids to direct a project, from the first thought all the way to the finished product,” Lundahl said. “Hopefully, having been through that process will help them in the industry.”
On multiple levels, then, the two-day tech fair is designed to help graduating UVU engineers secure jobs.
“The main reason we do the senior projects is so that industry and potential employers can see what our students can do,” said Dave Adams, chairman of UVU's Electrical Automation and Robotics Technology Department. “We already know what the students can do. We showcase their knowledge and abilities because we want everyone else to see.”
The event’s VIP day, held Friday, was attended by representatives from several major industry players, including Adobe, Autoliv and Kimberly-Clark.
Parker Jensen received the attention of Hill Air Force Base for his project — a safe disguised as a mirror.
“I couldn’t get into my (existing) safe quickly enough when I needed to, so I figured if I had something no one knew about that I could get into really quickly, that could work,” Jensen said.
While Jensen's project sprung from personal need, other students addressed community problems. Small groups of pre-engineering students faced off in design challenges, tasked with building equipment for disabled children or automating the can-sorting process at the local food bank.
"It was a great challenge for us as pre-engineering students," said Michael France of The Ninjaneers, one of the six-person groups to solve the sorting problem. "It certainly wasn’t simple."
Like many UVU students, the Ninjaneers have big plans for their finished project.
"We intentionally came up with something that we thought would actually work, that we’d love to see in their facility," said team member Craig Butler. "We’d love to present this to them and see if they’d consider constructing a full-size model."
Administrator Christine Peterson praised the students' real-world ambition.
"UVU is all about engaged learning," Peterson said. "This is engaged."