A male student talks to a woman. Two students look on.

Student Achievements Displayed at 2018 Design Expo

Being able to discuss projects and answer the judge's questions is an important part of Design Expo judging criteria.

Student writer and first-time Michigan Technological University Design Expo visitor Wynter Lindgren gets an eyeful—and talks to the winners—at the 2018 showcase of Enterprise and Senior Design projects.

This was my first time going to Design Expo and I’m mad at myself for never having gone before. You know when you can see passion in someone? That’s what I got to see at Design Expo. It was a reminder why I came to Michigan Tech in the first place: because students are spirited, dedicated and innovative. Each of the 73 teams were ready with posters and presentations. Students worked long hours on these projects. This was their time to shine.

My typical Thursday would have started by trying to get to class on time. Instead, I made my way up to the Memorial Union Building ballroom to explore the array of projects. The partitions were pulled back to accommodate everyone coming and going. But it still felt a bit cramped because it was packed with posters, prototypes and people.

More than 1,000 students filled the room with conversation, talking to visitors and judges. I was able to sneak in some questions of my own. Everyone was willing to talk; it wasn’t just because they had to. These students were thrilled to share what they had done and wanted tell us about it.

I walked around the hectic ballroom checking out the different teams. It was difficult to decide who to talk to in the short time I had before my class started. The exhibit space was divided into separate Senior Design and Enterprise sections.

To my left, the BoardSport Technologies caught my attention with their split snurfer project. As we talked, I found out they are working on multiple projects, including a sit ski for those with minimal or no leg mobility. On the other side of the room, I talked to a team that worked with Stryker to modify a handpiece used in brain surgery. Their modifications combine two pieces of technology to be functional and help reduce the probability of injury from having to change instruments.  

During all of this excitement, the teams have to be constantly prepared for judging. Answering questions and explaining the project is crucial to winning. While their speaking skills are tested, the visuals of their media are scored as well. Teams are awarded cash prizes for placing in their categories. Scoring a cash prize is great, but what students most value is the experience.

“Presenting at the Design Expo was a great capstone to all the hard work my team and I have put in throughout these last two semesters. It was awesome to be able to share our research and design fabrication with the public and the judges, as well as our fellow students,” said Peter Beach, a member of the Senior Design team that won the first place Pavlis Honors College Design Expo Innovation Award.

“When I had a spare minute or two, I enjoyed being able to go around and see what the rest of the teams were working on. Michigan Tech's Senior Design and Enterprise programs are so unique in their ability to prepare students for the workforce, and I'm glad my team and I were able to participate.”Peter Beach, Senior Design team member

Design Expo is just a taste of what students get to do once they graduate. If their performances from the day are just the beginning, they're set to take on the world.

Expo is a community-industry collaboration

Design Expo's support system includes more than 120 partners and sponsors.

Design Expo's directing partner is ITC. Collaborating partners are ArcelorMittal, Black & Veatch, Code Blue, Ford, Miller, Michigan Technological University Innovation and Commercialization, OHM and Plexus. Innovating partners are American Transmission Company and Kimberly-Clark. The numerous sponsors provide students with challenges that require them to push harder than they've ever had to before. Without all of these supporters, the event wouldn’t be possible.

Sponsors for Expo 2019 and beyond are always welcome. 

Check out Michigan Tech Unscripted for a behind-the-scenes look at how a four-member Senior Design team and one of the largest Enterprise teams at Michigan Tech prepped for Expo.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.