UC Merced — Innovate To Grow

September 20, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs

UC Merced is the only research
university in the Central Valley. Through its very existence and through the work
that is done by faculty in terms of research and teaching, develops the San
Joaquin Valley by creating new technologies that are immediately
applied to the needs of a region. A lot of agricultural technology is developed
here, but also, UC Merced acts as an engine of social development for
students. When they improve their lives, it’s not just their lives, but the lives of their
families and their neighbors in their communities. Innovate To Grow is the culmination of
three different elements – Engineering Capstone Design, Engineering Service
Learning, and the Mobile App Challenge. Faculty partner with external
clients, we identify engineering projects that they need a
solution for, and we put together teams of students that find that solution
either in a semester, or a year, or a given timeframe. The original area of this plaza is 6,400 square feet
and then the prototype is going to be 32 square feet, and then throughout the process, we can
also have pictures all the time of the prototype so you can have an idea of how
large it’s gonna be and how everything is gonna be laid out. My team and I are partnered with
Bay Area Rapid Transit – BART. BART provides over 128 million
rides per year. Due to their heavy use, the open space plazas face a lot
of wear and tear and general overuse, and from that, odor presents itself to the BART
riders. Our project is to tackle this odor in an innovative way. We’re
designing a ventilation system as well as an automation machine to neutralize
the space and provide a better transit experience for BART riders as they pass
through these transition spaces from the subway, going and entering into
communities. BART continues to work with UC Merced because here in
the Bay Area, there’s a lot of universities that are open to many resources that UC Merced
and the Central Valley may not have the opportunity to work
with. We notice that UC Merced students almost have a chip on their shoulder and
they have that extra drive and motivation to do well and succeed in the industry.
With a lot of the baby boomers retiring, there’s going to be a lot of
opportunities for the future generations to provide some fresh ideas, so the
partnership that BART has with UC Merced is a great opportunity because we get
to see what talent is out there. My recommendation is to come up with a way that
you think can justify the oxygen output they have, and then from there,
once you have that, you will use that for your own equations. Our client is NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This project specifically is focusing on one
of the Mars projects that’s coming up, and developing a new way of potentially
converting carbon dioxide that’s on Mars to oxygen and carbon monoxide for
potential fuels and breathable oxygen. From an engineering and scientific
perspective, this project is important because these are journeys that people
in the future might be making, and we are sort of setting a foundation for
something that they might need to explore — problems that they might need to
solve, such as generating oxygen or fuel on a planet that’s millions of miles away. Our mentor, Thomas Peel, is an alumni from UC Merced that is now working at
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Being mentored by someone that’s been through
this process and is currently at NASA is very exciting because that shows the
potential that we can reach next year, or two years from now, or three years from
now, so that motivates us to do our best work that we possibly can. Coming back as a mentor is great
because I remember what it was like being a student.
Innovate To Grow really helped me understand where my place is in the
professional world and what my expectations are. The self-motivation
that you won’t find in a classroom is really different and it’s something
you have to get used to, and I think Innovate To Grow does a good job of that.
Now, I’m on the other side of the table as an industry sponsor. I really enjoy
being part of Innovate To Grow because I can see the talent that UC Merced
is generating but also the passion that I can spark by giving them a project. One of the main objectives of the whole
Innovate To Grow program is to give students job opportunities before they
graduate. It is just not feasible for a lot of our students to just walk across
the street and apply for an internship, and so, if we want to make our students
competitive in the engineering workforce, we need to bring those companies here to campus. I think it went very well. The judges
seemed very impressed. They had some very good questions for us to answer, and they
seemed pretty impressed with the overall design and aspect of our project. So we just won our first track, so I mean hopefully, we can win it all. Yeah, we’re looking
forward to the next round of presentations and seeing where we proceed with the
whole competition. I’m super happy for them. I thought that they did a very good job selling
their point, their project. I wish them the best of luck in the next round. Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the
final prize session for Innovate To Grow. It is now my pleasure to announce the top finisher
for 2019 Innovation and Design Clinic – Team 21. [applause] Top finisher is Team #3 – Dream Team. The Merced Rye top finisher is Team 29 –
The Solar Group. This semester’s Engineering Service Learning top
finisher award goes to our Campus Drone Project. The California Poppy Track top finisher is Team 28. For social impact, Capstone Team #16. [applause] I think it’s really rewarding knowing
that all of our hard work has led to this moment, and especially with ending
Capstone on a really good note, we feel really excited for what the future holds. I really figured out that I have a role to play as an engineer here at UC Merced
and I’m grateful that I’m going to be providing something for the world and
helping change lives thanks to the skills that I learned here at UC Merced.