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UNLV Engineering Senior Design Competition Highlights Commercially Viable Student Inventions

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On display Dec. 4 are inventions from 36 teams, including a wheelchair controlled by the user’s scalp, an autonomous robot programmed to pick up toys, and a warning system that alerts distracted drivers to approaching emergency vehicles.
Campus News  |  Dec 1, 2014  |  By Megan Downs
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Brandon Tawatao discusses the Testbed Development for Geo-Location of RF Emitters entry in the Spring 2013 College of Engineering Senior Design competition. (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 their commercially viable projects at the Fall 2014 Senior Design Competition.


8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4

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.


Blasco Event Wing, Foundations Building, UNLV


This semester, 36 teams of undergraduate students created a variety of technologically innovative projects, including a wheel chair that can be controlled by electrical signals along the user's scalp, an autonomous robot that's programmed to pick up children's toys, and a warning system that alerts distracted drivers about approaching emergency vehicles.

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.

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

Electroncephalography (EEG) Controlled Wheelchair--This team developed a wheelchair that can be controlled by recording electrical signals along the user's scalp, particularly areas of the scalp that are correlated to the thinking process. When a user is focusing or has high attention levels, the wheelchair will start moving. The wheelchair only requires the scalp sensors to function and it will work for paralyzed patients or those who are too weak to control a chair. While these chairs exist in research facilities, there are very few available on the commercial market.

Soltranvia--This team developed plans for a streetcar system that would run along Maryland Parkway, from downtown Las Vegas to McCarran International Airport. The design of the streetcar and route would enhance the travel experience for locals and provide a convenient travel option for tourists. The team designed three alternatives, including a street-level car with overhead power lines, a street level car with an underground power supply and an elevated streetcar with an associated elevated power system.

Autonomous Object-Finding Robot--This team created an autonomous object-finding robot that can identify, locate and pick-up objects without human interaction. The robot is set to identify toys in a child's room and put them into a toy box.

The Magnetic Pin Trigger Lock--This device is designed to improve the safety of the common trigger lock on guns. The MPT Lock is designed for gun enthusiasts who wish to have a reliable safety device for their firearms that can be quickly removed in an emergency. The device immobilizes the trigger and can be quickly removed by a finger print reader. The invention also includes a set of moving pins that immobilize the trigger, and a strong magnet to draw the pins through the trigger. The pins provide a custom fit to most firearms, just as a pin art toy makes an imprint of a hand.

Trout Canyon Rehabilitation--This team has developed possible solutions for the small community of Trout Canyon, which lost its water supply pipeline during the Carpenter 1 fire in the Mount Charleston area. This group worked to develop methods to bring the community a dependable water supply that would be resistant to the prevalent flooding in the area caused by widespread loss of vegetation in the fire.

Mono-Rotor Aerial Platform--This team designed a stable hovering unmanned aerial vehicle with a single rotor. Currently, the most popular drones are constructed as multicopters that have multiple, counter-spinning rotors. The popular design has multicopters to counteract torque, or the force that rotates an object around an axis. However, this team developed a design with a single rotor by counteracting torque by redirecting airflow using control surfaces; much like an airplane redirects airflow using ailerons, rubbers and elevators.

Emergency Vehicle Warning System--This system was designed to improve safety and driving conditions for emergency vehicles trying to drive through heavy traffic. It will alert deaf drivers or distracted drivers who are unaware of the presence of an emergency vehicle approaching. The components of the device are installed on specific locations of the vehicle to catch siren audio frequency. Once the siren frequency is identified, a microcontroller will interrupt the stereo inside the vehicle and display a warning message.


Please contact Megan Downs at or (702) 895-3965 for details.