Promise, passion and purpose hung heavy in the air at the Northridge Center at California State University, Northridge’s University Student Union on May 8. Perhaps it was the anticipation of Commencement 2015, which will take place May 15-18. Or, perhaps it was the very real offers of employment accepted by hundreds of Matador seniors graduating this month from the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Whatever the reason, the pride was palpable as the students and their faculty advisors showed off their culminating projects after months — sometimes semesters — of work in CSUN’s mechanical, structural and other engineering departments.
The annual Senior Design Project Showcase, which was open to the public, spotlights senior capstone design projects — judged entirely by a panel of industry experts, including those from local firms Northrop Grumman and Lockheed. Once again this spring, Matador engineering students quietly racked up the awards at international and national engineering competitions, elevating the reputation of their school, the CSU and the San Fernando Valley. In April, the CSUN Aero Design team placed first in oral presentation and third overall among a field of more than 70 teams, for their model “heavy-lift aircraft” (a plane designed to lift comparatively heavy loads) at the Society of Automotive Engineers’ International Aero Design West competition in Van Nuys.At the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Human Powered Vehicle Challenge West, also in April, the CSUN team placed first in the innovation event, fifth in the endurance event and sixth overall among 36 schools. The Matador team’s prize-winning vehicle is a tube-shaped recumbent bicycle — picture a pedal-powered bobsled.
Staff from the statewide Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists (through the state Department of Consumer Affairs) attended the May 8 showcase and sent a glowing report of the CSUN students’ work to the organization’s entire board. The engineers’ board representatives also plan to attend the college’s annual Tech Fest event in the fall, they said. The board, based in Sacramento, plans to provide information sessions at the Tech Fest to help students learn about the path to professional licensure as engineers.
“Capstone projects are the highlight of many undergraduate engineering students’ educations, because they give senior students an opportunity to work in teams to tackle real world applied research and design projects,” wrote a spokeswoman for the state engineers’ board, in a prepared statement.
As they showed off their award-winning projects to the professional engineers who served as volunteer judges — most were based in the San Fernando Valley — for the design showcase as well as to their peers, the seniors had the opportunity to share their work with CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and Dean Ramesh. The president toured the showcase, asking the graduates-to-be about their methods, materials and plans after commencement. Below are a few photos from the May 8 showcase.