Huskies to Compete at Annual Design Expo Undergraduate Showcase

A member of Michigan Tech's Supermileage Systems Enterprise works on the team's vehicle in a lab at the university
A member of Michigan Tech's Supermileage Systems Enterprise works on the team's vehicle in a lab at the university
Members of Michigan Tech's Supermileage Systems Enterprise Team are among Huskies across campus putting in long hours to get their projects ready for competition. This team's objective is to build a single-occupant high-efficiency vehicle that can compete in the worldwide Shell Eco-Marathon. The team achieved 670 miles per gallon in the 2024 internal combustion prototype car category.

Long hours of engineering, fabricating, testing and going back to the drawing board will culminate in the ultimate proof of Husky ingenuity at Michigan Tech’s 2024 Design Expo.

Design Expo places Michigan Technological University’s undergraduate student innovators and their corporate and faculty sponsors front and center as teams solve complex, real-world and life-changing challenges while competing for nearly $4,000 in cash awards. More than a thousand students from Michigan Tech Senior Design and Enterprise teams will showcase their projects to the public and judges from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library. Projects include equipment required for a typical day of life on the moon, minimally invasive and more efficient medical devices, and a remotely operated vehicle that explores and maps flooded mines. 

Michigan Tech's H-STEM Enterprise team works on a project in the lab that involves welding a circuit board for a medical device.
Michigan Tech's H-STEM Enterprise works on projects related to rehabilitation engineering, health care and public health.

A panel of 80 judges will critique the projects and determine award winners, and the public is invited to vote for the Audience Choice Award. There will be a brief 10 a.m. kickoff in the library Tuesday. The awards ceremony is at 3:30 p.m. in Michigan Tech’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. There is a virtual option for those who would like to remotely attend the kickoff or awards ceremony.

How to Vote

In addition to viewing projects in person, you can watch Design Expo team videos, which will be posted after 2 p.m. on Monday, April 15. Use the Audience Choice Award ballot to vote for your favorite project.

Nagesh Hatti, director of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise Program, said the experience offers Huskies a unique opportunity to maximize personal and professional growth.

“Whether a student chooses Enterprise or Senior Design, their skills and accomplishments are the result of many hours spent creating plans, communicating with clients, thinking creatively, solving open-ended problems and meeting deadlines,” he said. “Perhaps just as important are the hours spent changing those plans, managing team conflicts, critiquing ideas, troubleshooting unforeseen problems and getting behind schedule. As the adage goes, ‘The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.’”

"Enterprise and Senior Design require a considerable investment in time and energy for our students with an even greater return."Nagesh Hatti, director, Michigan Tech Enterprise Program

While Design Expo is typically the culmination of multiyear projects, this year two dozen first-year engineering teams will also participate. Their design work will be presented in an exhibit in the Memorial Union Building’s ballroom. Judges won’t score their projects, but first-year teams are eligible for the Audience Choice Award.

“Our first-year students experience the same kind of interdisciplinary teamwork and hands-on learning through design and innovation from the get-go at Michigan Tech as they begin developing their engineering identity,” said Mary Raber, chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. “Design Expo gives them a chance to present their first engineering project design and share their innovative work with others.”

A perennial high school entry, the Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics (SOAR) will take part in Design Expo again this year. Begun in 2011, the nationally recognized team includes young innovators in grades 9-12 from Dollar Bay and neighboring Tamarack City. SOAR’s projects include engineering an aquatic robot to help locate invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Working with Industry is a Tech Tradition

Along with student ingenuity and perseverance, Design Expo highlights how the University collaborates with industry partners. More than 100 industry, government and community sponsors supported student projects with time, energy and resources this year, from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Stryker to the Auto/Steel Partnership, Koppers Performance Chemicals, John Deere and GlaxoSmithKline.

Michigan Tech's formula SAE Enterprise team is one of several in the collegiate automotive design programs offered at the university, in which teams work together to build vehicles with greater capabilities and effiencies. A team member is in the vehicle and fellow Huskies are clustered around him, making adjustments to the engine and body of the vehicle. Others at the side do research at a workbench.
Formula SAE is one of several collegiate automotive design teams in Michigan Tech Enterprise. Learn more about their projects and process on Michigan Tech YouTube.

Design Expo would not be possible without generous industry and university sponsorship. Thompson Surgical Instruments is the Design Expo 2024 Executive Partner. ITC Holdings is a Design Expo Directing Partner for the 13th consecutive year, along with Aramco Americas and CTech Manufacturing Inc. Supporting Partners are Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Burns & McDonnell and Milwaukee Tool. 

Within Michigan Tech, Design Expo Supporting Partners include the College of Engineering and Pavlis Honors College. Husky Innovate and MTU’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization serve as Collaborating Partners.

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.