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Engineering Senior Design Competition Features Innovative Projects

Inventions from 21 teams on display Dec. 3 include a mechanized sock donner, a drone that detects methane gas, and enhanced parking options for the UNLV campus.
Campus News  |  Dec 1, 2015  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Keyonna Summers, or (702) 895-0898
UNLV engineering students will showcase their inventions

UNLV engineering students will showcase their inventions on Dec. 3. (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Students from the UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering will showcase lessons learned from their undergraduate education when they display commercially viable projects at the Fall 2015 Senior Design Competition.


8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 3

All projects will be shown for the duration of the event, with a scheduled break from noon  to 1 p.m.


Stan Fulton Building (view on campus map)


This semester, 21 teams of undergraduate students created a variety of technologically innovative projects, including a design that makes it easier for nurses to move patients onto emergency aircraft and a solution that would deter birds from hitting large windows.

The Senior Design Competition is the capstone project for undergraduate engineering students at UNLV. The event is judged by local industry representatives and has thousands of dollars in prize money on the line. The competition introduces students to the spirit of entrepreneurship and the benefits of commercial application.

Senior design teams are offered the opportunity to partner with MBA students from the Lee Business School to create a business plan as part of the MBA curriculum. This collaboration has led to great success at the Dominic Marrocco Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition, the Governor's Cup, and the subsequent creation of many successful businesses.

The senior design program runs in perpetuity thanks to a $3 million gift from Fred and Harriet Cox. Fred Cox, who passed away in August 2014, was a successful engineer/entrepreneur and ardent supporter of the College of Engineering. He was instrumental in the design competition's growth over the past decade as a donor, advocate, role model, and mentor.

Note: A partial list of projects is outlined below. A complete list of all projects will soon be available at

Garage MaHal

This team proposes to build a parking structure behind the Lied Library. The garage will be an efficient system that moves high volumes of traffic, while creating three floors of parking and capacity for about 1,400 cars. A solar panel would be installed on the top floor, creating shading for vehicles that park on the top as well as generate power needed to run the garage.

Methane Sensor Module

This team created a mobile detection system for methane emissions inside a module that will mount onto a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone. The team partnered with Skyworks Aerial Systems, a Las Vegas company founded by UNLV engineering alumni using their senior design project drone. In this project, the measurement data of methane will be sent wirelessly to a central computer for further investigation and analysis. These sensors are small in weight and size and allow for a lower cost of UAVs due to a lower lift demand. This smaller size could help UAVs become more prevalent across multiple industries, resulting in lower global greenhouse emissions.

For the Birds

Collisions with windows is one of the biggest threats to birds in America. Birds fail to recognize transparent or reflective glass, resulting in deaths or injuries. This team created ultra violet reflective and absorbing stripes that are visible to birds, but invisible to humans. In the stripes, a considerable portion of infared energy is reflected, creating energy savings in buildings of abundant sunlight.

Mechanized Sock Donner

As people age, they develop problems such as arthritis, which affect their flexibility and independence. Some people don’t have the flexibility to put on socks. This team developed a mechanized sock donner, which puts the sock on for the user with minimal flexibility required. It consists of two four-bar mechanisms, one on each side of the foot. Clamps are attached to each coupler link, and they pull the sock along the designed path around the foot and ankle.

Stretch Air

This team developed a solution that could minimize the risk of work-related injuries for nurses during the loading procedure of a patient onto an aircraft. They have created an electronic lifting mechanism that allows nurses to raise a ramp to a desired height, so that the patient can be easily positioned with minimal effort. The design would appeal to any air medical transport companies seeking faster, improved loading procedures of patients.