The Catholic University of America

May 5, 2009

Engineering Students Honored for Senior Design Day Projects 

  Mechanical engineering students (from left) Jason Shao, Aldo Glean, Joseph Cochrane, Kalin Petersen, Omar Monterrubio, Patrick Dickey and James McMahon.
  Civil engineering students Michael Kuklinski, Rose Lucas and Nicholas Backert.
  Biomedical engineering students Sarah Luffy, Kristen Kennedy and Thomas Giuliani.
  Andrew Smith won in the electrical engineering and computer science category.

Fourteen Catholic University undergraduate students were honored May 4 for projects presented at the School of Engineering's first Senior Design Day.

Charles Nguyen, dean and professor of engineering, said the projects day showcased "the unique students we produce at Catholic University. We're not only an engineering school. We're a school to build leaders. And those are future leaders."

Design day, which presented the work of more than 50 students, all of them seniors, was the culmination of yearlong projects for electrical and computer science as well as mechanical engineering students. Biomedical and civil engineering students completed one-semester research and design projects.

The top projects named by a panel of engineering experts were:

  • Mechanical engineering: "Externally Controlled Hovercraft for Carrying Landmine Detection Equipment" by Joseph Cochrane, Coopersburg, Pa.; Patrick Dickey, Potomac, Md.; Aldo Glean, Grenada, West Indies; James McMahon, Bricktown, N.J.; Omar Monterrubio, Houston; Kalin Petersen, New Market, Md.; and Jason Shao, Hong Kong.
  • Civil engineering: "Design of Four-Story Office Building" by Nicholas Backert, Rising Sun, Md.; Michael Kuklinski, Havertown, Pa.; and Rose Lucas, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Biomedical engineering: "Determination of Bulk Tissue Oxygenation Via a Novel Imaging Pulse Oximeter" by Kristen Kennedy, Great Falls, Va.; Thomas Giuliani, Coconut Creek, Fla.; and Sarah Luffy, Pittsburgh.
  • Electrical engineering and computer science: "Terahertz Interferometric Imaging" by Andrew Smith of Orlando, Fla.

Winning teams each received $250 and a certificate.

One of the judges, Bruce Crock, head of the radio frequency technology group at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Md., listened to the oral presentations and wove his way through poster presentations at lunchtime. "What was the hardest part of this?" he quizzed the team of biomedical engineering students that went on to win top project.

Crock said he considered the technical exactness of the work and the depth of research in his judging of the projects. He said he was impressed with what he saw, and he praised the practical application and relevance to the workplace.

Smith, whose project topped entries in electrical engineering and computer science, said the format of design day gave students a real-world perspective of how to make presentations and proposals. "To convey an idea in such a condensed form is crucial," he said.

The presentation of engineering research and projects highlighted seniors' work in a required design course in their discipline. Poul Lade, professor and chair of civil engineering, said the capstone design course allows students to put together the knowledge they acquire from a variety of courses. Students also made presentations of their work to their departments for grades.

"One of the most important lessons we as a team learned was practicality of design," said Andrew Kalna of Stafford, Va., who, with two other students, designed a mixed-occupancy building.

"When you design something on paper, it can mean every code and regulation and every check that you can perform in an engineering setting," Kalna added. "But when you go to build that building in the field, what you design can be very tedious to build and execute."

Nguyen said that he is planning a similar day for graduate students next year.

MEDIA: For more information, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.