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Engineering Senior Design Competition Features Solutions to Real World Problems

Inventions from 28 teams on display May 7, including an autonomous security rover, UAVs, designs for the world’s longest water slide and a design for elevated office desks.
Campus News  |  May 5, 2015  |  By Megan Downs
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Students participate in the Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition

Students participate in the Fall 2014 Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition held December 4, 2014 inside the UNLV Foundations Building. (R. Marsh Starks / 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 Spring 2015 Senior Design Competition


8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday May 7

All projects will be shown for the duration of the event, with a scheduled break from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Cox Pavilion Concourse, UNLV


This semester, 28 teams of undergraduate students created a variety of technologically innovative projects, including an autonomous security rover and a design that elevates office desks to allow workers to stand throughout the day.

The Senior Design Competition is the culminating 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 college also announced a $3 million gift from Fred and Harriet Cox to ensure the competition and related awards ceremony runs in perpetuity, and to fund materials and supplies for students. Fred Cox, who passed away in August, 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. In 2002, the contest was formally named the Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition.

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


Most people carry smart phone charging cables in pockets, bags and purses. The cables get tangled and create unnecessary clutter. This team developed a universal device that can be attached to any existing smart phone cable to retract it into a small, light-weight tangle eliminator. The Recoil is easy to use and inexpensive to manufacture.

Particulate, P.O.D.

This team created a platform to monitor air quality using a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone. If UAVs are used to monitor air quality it would eliminate the need for multiple and high-cost air monitoring stations. The UAV can be used in extremely hazardous environments where a human cannot enter or access. Currently, many U.S. agencies monitor air quality but this is done from an established network of air monitoring stations that is costly, non-mobile and permanent.

Autonomous Security Rover

Employing a full time security guard is not practical or cost effective for most companies, so this design group developed an autonomous rover that can provide security. The robot avoids obstacles and can travel to specific positions. Additionally, the rover is more accurate than GPS because it can arrive within inches of a specific destination, whereas a GPS is only accurate up to a few meters. Additionally, once the rover has received specific coordinates, it can travel autonomously to a position even if WiFi communication is been degraded.


During an eight-hour work day, the average desk job employee spends the majority of their work day stationary at their desk, leading to full body discomfort and strain on the neck, back, arms and shoulders from sitting improperly throughout the day. This team created a fully functioning kit that allows any desk job worker to transform their existing desk, allowing the user to sit or stand throughout the day, without purchasing a new desk. Currently most adjustable desks on the marketing range from $800 to $4,000 and aren't cost effective for most businesses.

Wet Strip

The Longest Water Slide in the World. This team created a concept for a water slide attraction for Wet 'n' Wild Water Park. The Wet Strip will mimic concrete flood channels; starting on top of the foothills just southwest of the current Wet 'n' Wild water park and terminating near the base of the foothill. The Wet Strip will use more than 350 feet of elevation change over a ride distance of more than 2,100 feet, making it the longest water slide in the world. Riders will be thrilled with nearly three minutes of ride time.