Tech Design Expo features concepts on cutting edge

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Austin Ostipow, front, and Branden DeVries, work on their project Thursday at the Michigan Technological University Design Expo. They and team members Andrew Dorton, and Richard Fowler developed a device for teaching how to work on electronic hardware.

HOUGHTON — Before a product or service gets to market or put into use, somebody has to have an idea, then the idea has to be made real, and that is the concept behind the Michigan Technological University Design Expo.

The Design Expo took place Thursday in the Tech Memorial Union Building ballroom with about 80 teams participating.

Leonard Bohmann, associate dean of the College of Engineering, said the Tech Enterprise program began in 2000, and was an idea of Tech faculty members Niel Hutzler, Sheryl Sorby and Carl Anderson.

“They got a proposal to the National Science Foundation that got it started,” he said.

The Design Expo began before the Enterprise Program, and over the years, Bohmann said the expo grew to include the entire university, not just the College of Engineering.

The expo is sponsored by the Tech Pavlis Honors College, Bohmann said. Students taking part present either a Capstone Senior Design project or an Enterprise project. The Capstone projects are created in one semester or an entire school year. The Enterprise projects have been existence at Tech in some cases for years.

“Students come and go,” he said of the Enterprise projects.

Some of the projects at the Design Expo have corporate sponsors, Bohmann said.

Bohmann said one of the ongoing Enterprise projects is developing super mileage for vehicles.

“That’s been around for a long time,” he said.

Another long-term Enterprise project is the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, which takes place in March.

Some projects may make it to market eventually, Bohmann said, but others are intended to provide a societal benefit, such as a low-cost ventilator for economically-challenged countries.