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UNLV Engineering Students Showcase High-Tech Inventions During Senior Design Competition

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On display May 8 are inventions from 29 teams, including a solar-powered machine that kills bed bugs, a device that builds urban farms on parking garage roofs and a contraption that would power animal shelters using methane gas from animal waste and more.
Research  |  May 5, 2014  |  By Megan Downs
Media Contact: Megan Downs (702) 895-0898


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 Spring 2014 Senior Design Competition.


8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday May 8
All projects will be shown for the duration of the event, with a scheduled break from noon to 1 p.m.


Cox Pavilion Concourse at UNLV


This semester, students from 29 teams created a variety of technologically innovative projects, including a solar-powered machine that kills bed bugs, a device that builds urban farms on top of parking garages, and a contraption that would power animal shelters using methane gas from animal waste.

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

Civil Solutions: This team developed a way to use animal fecal waste to create an energy source. Nearly 17 percent of methane gas emitted by landfills in the United States comes from discarded pet feces. The team developed an anaerobic digestor that breaks down the waste, creating and storing methane to produce energy. The methane is burned and converted into water and carbon dioxide, a more favorable green house gas. The team partnered with the Las Vegas Animal Foundation to test the product.

Clean Green: Each month 3 million tourists visit Las Vegas, leaving behind their dirty laundry. Brady Linen Services, LLC is a local industrial laundry facility responsible for washing the casinos' sheets, towels and other linens. Daily, this facility uses 700,000 gallons of softened water to wash 400,000 pounds of soiled linens. What the tourists leave behind consumes limited local resources for treatment and cleaning. The team of UNLV student engineers updated Brady's existing water softening system to minimize the cost, environmental impact and energy consumption. They provided the company with a sustainable, economical solution for water softening.

Pull-Me-Up Bar- The Pull-Me-Up- bar is a piece of equipment designed for fitness enthusiasts to use in the comfort of their own home. The mechanical apparatus attaches to any common residential doorframe and allows the user to perform a perfect pull-up with guided assistance training. The goal is to train the user and the major muscle groups involved to contract in proper form, building muscular strength and endurance. Common issues with the standard pull up, such as difficulty completing a full-range pull up are remedied on this machine, allowing the user to gain confidence with each repetition.

GrowUp Urban Food Solution- This group created a vertical farm designed with the capability of being retrofitted atop any existing parking garage. Vertical farming entails the growing of crops within environmentally controlled structures in urban areas, reducing water and fuel consumption, minimizing land area, eliminating transportation impacts and reducing product costs. With this design, farms could exist anywhere a parking garage does, changing the way the world eats.

Radiant Sol Bugs: This team developed a device that kills bed bugs through solar heating. Libraries around the nation suffer from bed bug problems. The insects hide within the spine of a book, lay their eggs, and multiply. However, books can be damaged by the typical bombardment of toxic chemicals and pesticides commonly used to kill bed bugs. The team developed a black box that allows solar radiation to pass through thick Plexiglas panels. The panels radiate heat, increasing the temperature to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Bed bugs have been recorded to die at a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This natural microwave could provide an alternative non-toxic sanitation. Larger scale models could be created to kill bugs in beds, chairs and couches.

Algae production system: This team devised a plan for an algae culture system in Las Vegas, using the shallow groundwater system as a renewable source of water. Recently, algae growth has become a global business, with more than 50 companies in the United States producing algae on an industrial scale. The Las Vegas climate is ideal for algae growth and the saline groundwater, which is unsuitable for drinking, is ideal for algae production. This team's plan would use 5,000 gallons of water and produce an algae culture meant to create an aquaculture feed source.