Tag Archives: engineering competitions

Construction Estimating

Robert Parker

Robert Parker,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 29 November 2015

The air is becoming cooler and crisper and the days are much shorter. I cannot believe that we are done with November and moving in to the last month of the year. The semester is coming to a close and the project deadlines are approaching. There is nothing more that terrifies me than project deadlines and finals. Even though I am terrified to think of what is in the near future, I am still ready to tackle them head-on. I have found that I work and learn best when I am under a little pressure.

One of my favorite classes of the semester is CE 4160, Construction Estimating & Equipment. In this class, I have been working on roadway construction projects all semester. In this class we are divided up into groups and we are given a set of plan drawings to which we need to make an estimate of how much the project will cost to build. I like this class the most because it is most applicable to what I want to do once I graduate.

Another benefit of this class is that is directly related to one of the organizations that I’m in. The Civil Engineering Estimating Team does exactly what my class is teaching me. We get a set of plan drawings and we need to bid the project during a competition.

I find that I tend to like classes more that I can directly relate to outside of the class room. I am what they call a “hands on” kind of person.

Startup Weekend Athens

Zach Perrault

Zach Perrault,
Senior, Computer Science

Athens, OH 29 October 2015

Last weekend I attended Startup Weekend Athens, a contest where groups work to start a company in 48 hours.

On Friday, I went to the Ohio University Innovation Center with no idea what I was getting myself into. After a bit of introduction from the event organizer, people lined up to make their 60 second pitches for their proposed business ideas. Once everyone had given their pitch we voted on which ones should be pursued. I decided to join Amy Miller and her idea to create a virtual reality system where martial arts students could apply their skills in mock scenarios. I really liked Amy’s enthusiasm and a virtual reality system sounded like a really fun technical challenge.

The first night was mostly fleshing out the idea some more. Wilson, my fellow computer science engineering ambassador, and I went to our houses to pick up our workstations, grab our Oculus Rift and a Microsoft Kinect from our friend and ACM president, Charlie Murphy. We also acquired important brain fuel in the form of gummy worms and La Croix.

Wilson and I worked non-stop all weekend to get as impressive a tech demo as we could. On Saturday, the event organizers also invited coaches from the Athens area to help us with our startups. Nathan from the Create_space and John Bowditch from the GRID Lab both help us a lot with how to approach our technical hurdles.

On Sunday, We presented our startup and performed a demo of what we had been working on. It went really well! After presenting the judges deliberated while we had another delicious, catered meal from the contest. Then it was time for the judges to announce the winners. My team took second place!

It was so exciting for our hard work to have paid off. I went into Startup Weekend just wanting to build something but I got so much more. I learned a lot about business plans and how product is just a portion of what makes a successful business.

Drago Cvijetinovic

Drago Cvijetinovic,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 12 October 2015

Seeing the faces of young and old alumni during Homecoming here at Ohio University struck me with one of the more eye-opening revelations than I’ve had before: how little time I have left to enjoy being a student! The weekend in its entirety flooded me with many good memories of my past here in Athens; in fact, the more I reminisced, the more it felt like I was still only getting started and four years ago sometimes still feels like yesterday, still finding my way around campus. It’s a strange reality to finally grasp the fact that this time next year – OU will be a thing of the past.

Recollecting some of that past, however, I can safely say that one of my best and most gratifying experiences I’ve had here would have to be participating as a member of the Ohio University Precision Flight Team. Consisting of not just flight majors, but any student interested in aviation, the flight team is an inspired group that utilize the knowledge they’ve gained in the course of their college career to compete against schools around the nation in a variety of events.

Flight team

In and through this team, I have met some truly amazing and unique individuals, who are not just a “team member,” but they’re part of the student body. It’s exciting to hear other folks’ stories on how they have gracefully fallen into aviation to the schools they’ve studied at and ultimately – all the places they plan on going!

It’s a little cliché, I know, but a quote that has always stuck with me in the aviation program is: “A mile of road will take you one mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.” So despite how similar one student may compare to the other in where they are now, I’ve realized that everyone really does have their own twist and flair to their book of life–past and future.

As of right now, everything is looking good here at OU. Classes are in full swing and oddly enough it’s already at the halfway mark of the semester. Summer packed her bags and left for vacation while Fall arrived right on time.

Environmental Design Contest

Courtney Sterrick

Courtney Sterrick,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 5 April 2015

From March 29th to April 1st, nine OU ChBE students and two ChBE professors traveled to Las Cruces, NM to compete at the annual Waste-management Education Research Consortium (WERC) Environmental Design Contest organized by New Mexico State University.


This year, our four-person group was tasked with designing a small-scale wastewater treatment facility capable of reducing sulfate concentration in brackish water using electrocoagulation. Over the course of the academic year, our team worked to understand the theory behind electrocoagulation and researched various electrochemical cell designs to maximize sulfate removal.

Besides testing different designs, we also had to prepare an in-depth paper discussing our research, an oral presentation, and a bench-scale demonstration of the technology. The entire research process was a great learning experience, as was being able to discuss with other teams their approaches to solve the same problem.

In addition to competing in the competition, our group also went sightseeing! While in Las Cruces, we spent one evening at White Sands where we watched the sun set. We also jumped off and raced up some of the sand dunes.

Once the competition concluded, our group traveled to Flagstaff, AZ for the remainder of the week. While traveling, we visited the Petrified Forest. A group picture while at the Painted Desert is below.


The trip culminated with hiking the Grand Canyon. Three of us (including myself) hiked from the rim to the river and back in less than 7.5 hours!


The whole trip was a great experience, and if given the chance, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Android BAN Senior Project

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 16 March 2015

Here is an update on the status of my group’s current senior design project. So far our team of seniors–Morgan Haggerty, Trevor Vogelhuber, Levi Moore, Gordon Fleming, and I–have been nominated by a contest committee as one of the top six teams in the world. The contest we have entered is hosted by the IEEE Antenna and Propogation Society. Though there are more contest rules, the main ones are fairly straightforward: build a body area network (BAN) that consists one or more vitals-monitoring sensors, a microcontroller, a custom antenna, and an Android application.

In addition to being nominated to the top six, we have completed some major milestones in our design. We have custom fabricated numerous antenna designs through photolithography and have analyzed their radiation pattern on the spectrum analyzer. Also, we have temperature, heart rate, and fall detection sensors integrated on a central microcontroller. Finally, I am working on finishing up our Android application that will be able to display all the data collected from the sensors on the screen of an Android-enabled mobile device. The data transmission will be through a Bluetooth 2.0 (Smart Bluetooth) signal. This is a low-energy transmission that will allow power consumption to be at its lowest.

Our project is coming to a conclusion, and we hope to have a working product soon. Some final goals are to get the Android application running with all the rest of the system integrated and have the completed unit stored in a small enclosure for aesthetics.

EE Senior Design: Body Area Network Design

Patrick Hanlon

Patrick Hanlon,
Senior, Electrical Engineering

Athens, OH 7 December 2014

Every Electrical Engineering Senior is required to complete a senior design project of some sort before they are able to graduate. In our case, we were able to pick our team mates – a group of 5 friends since freshman year. Senior design projects are not limited to any particular project path, but our senior design project is unique in a special way.

The IEEE Antenna Propagation Society is hosting a contest where undergraduate students have the chance to assemble a team to design and create a Body Area Network (BAN) system. The contest requires that the team be no larger than 5 people and accomplish the following:

  • Create a BAN that monitors a user’s heart rate or has fall detection
  • Fabricate an antenna that communicates data to a smartphone via Bluetooth (2.4GHz) with a class 3 power rating (<1mW)
  • Display the received signal strength (RSSI) on the smartphone
  • Have a replicable product for less than $1500 USD.

In order to even qualify for the contest, the teams must complete all of these requirements. The selection rounds are as follows: first round is select the top six teams, the next round is the top 3 teams, and finally the winner.

We, the Ohio University BAN team, have submitted our proposal and have been selected of the top six teams in the world. In the previous year not a single US team was chosen, so this is an honor and an accomplishment for our team.

Currently we are working with many different types of vitals-monitoring sensors and integrating them into a small microcontroller circuit board. This is the first leap into the darkness for the project. With many more tasks to handle, we should be able to gain the knowledge to conquer and overcome obstacles. The goal is to win the contest and present our product to the world at the IEEE Antenna Propagation Symposium in Vancouver, so keep your eye out in the e-News Newsletter for our team in mid-April.

ASCE Steel Bridge Competition

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 November 2014

Every year the members involved in American Society of Civil Engineers participate in multiple competitions such as steel bridge, concrete canoe, environmental, and more. The competitions aren’t until March; however, we have to begin working now so that our teams will be ready for competition.

This year I am captain of our steel bridge team. For the steel bridge competition we have to design a 1/10 scale model of a steel bridge and every year the criteria are changed. This year we have to design a bridge that has an 18-foot clear span which means that the supports are only on the ends of the span. During the competition we are challenged to subject our bridge to various forms of loading.

To begin design we have to carefully read the rules. As a group we all suggest different ideas and begin to build off of them. This year we decided to go with a beam bridge design. As a group we are planning that we will use a built up T-member made from two L-members for the bridge decking. Our biggest challenge so far is to design the way to brace the bridge laterally. Lateral bracing is used to prevent side sway. After we decide what we would like to do for bracing our next step will be to make all shop drawings and then next semester we will begin fabrication.