Some people use their spare time to watch TV, play sports or read a book.
But mechanical engineering senior Russ Tindall’s idea of fun was building an almost 400-pound steam engine during his free time.
“I’ve kind of always wanted to make one (and) appreciate (the) technology that has brought our society to where it is,” he said.
Tindall is one of many students displaying their creations, designs and hard work at the College of Engineering’s Design Day on Friday in the Union.
Wayne Dyksen, professor of computer science and engineering and executive director of Design Day, said students are given a problem from either a professor or corporate client, and their job is to come up with the solution.
Some of the projects include a robotic vehicle powered by solar and wind energy, a Chrysler LLC-sponsored prototype seat insert, which has the ability to adjust to the passenger’s comfort level, and designs for a 144-unit student apartment complex located east of campus, as well as a teaching aid for a student who is blind.
Some of the projects were sponsored by companies, including a team sponsored by the Mozilla Corporation to create a decluttered reader mode without ads on pages on a version of Firefox.
Dyksen said Design Day is a chance for students to show off the final product they have been working on all semester.
“Our students are just amazing; they can compete with any engineer in the country,” Dyksen said. “Instead of something that just a professor or TA sees, it’s shown to the whole world.”
Mechanical engineering seniors Ross Otten and Sarah Kurtz spent time in a machine shop throughout the semester and built a horizontal motion conveyor that could transport six boxes of cereal in two minutes.
“You kind of learn more of the hands-on side of engineering, which is nice compared to just (attending) everyday lectures,” Otten said.
Tindall said he has been working on his steam engine since January, using his own money. Despite being asked multiple times, Tindall said he does not know what he will do with the engine after Design Day.
“It’s a 400-pound paperweight,” he said jokingly. “Some day I would like to put it on and make an old, antique paddleboat.”