College of Engineering exhibits student innovations with annual Design Day


The Wayne State University College of Engineering hosted its fourth annual Student Design and Innovation Day, which showcased 79 unique student projects covering a wide range of applications and engineering disciplines.

Sponsored by the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute, Student Design and Innovation Day demonstrates students’ solutions to engineering challenges as well as commercial and social needs. The event offers up to $1,000 in cash prizes to the best projects, and reflects the mission of the Anderson Institute to foster entrepreneurism through investment in marketable technologies.

Taking first place honors was a four-member team of mechanical engineering students — Hana Bagomaan, Russell Charles, Anthony Bertucci, and John Toth — that designed a kit intended to convert a manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair at a significantly lower cost than existing technology but with equivalent functionality. It marks the second year in a row that a mechanical engineering team under the guidance of Professor Golam Newaz has come away with the top prize.

2018 Student Design and Innovation Day

“We decided that engineering a retrofit electrification system for a manual wheelchair would be a good challenge that could have a substantial positive impact due to the lack of reasonably priced, high quality, easy to install systems on the market,” said Toth.

“Offering a low-cost affordable motorized wheelchair option opens a pathway for improved mobility to those who cannot afford the current market options,” added Charles. “We don't believe someone should be restricted to limited mobility due to financial limitations.”

Other top projects included an economic and environmentally-friendly method of extracting rare earth elements, an optimized coronary artery bypass technique using Adipose-derived stem cells, and a real-time weather data platform for use in remote locations.

The Anderson Institute introduced two new prizes this year. The best app award, given to the top functional mobile software application, went to Car Pool, which helps users coordinate ride sharing. An award for the best three-minute video presentation went to a group that developed a predictive model to replicate underwater artifact locations using artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Another new feature at Design Day was a pitch competition, for which 22 projects were selected as finalists. Students were invited to give an oral presentation for a panel of judges that included successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, senior managers from various companies, and Wayne State business and engineering faculty. Presenters were graded on technical quality, commercialization potential, and overall presentation quality.

“The judges were impressed by both the breadth and the depths of the topics presented,” said Sorin Draghici, director of the Anderson Institute and associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship. “The winning teams are eligible for coaching from senior Anderson Institute mentors, as well as funding for the purposes of perfecting their technology and starting a company.”

Toth and Charles both acknowledged that working with the Anderson Institute bolstered the viability of their project. “Design Day served as a platform to expose our work to instructors, students, and professionals,” said Charles. “We received great feedback from people at the event to improve further iterations of the design.”


Summary of top projects:


First place: eDrive Wheelchair Conversion Kit

A kit that can convert a manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair at a significantly lower cost than existing technology but with equivalent functionality.

Students: Hana Bagomaan, Russell Charles, Anthony Bertucci, John Toth

Advisor: Golam Newaz


Second place: Development of Sorption Technology for Extracting Rare Earth Elements from Coal Fly Ash

An economic and environmentally-friendly method of extracting REEs from coal and its by-products for high-tech applications critical to the U.S. economy.

Student: Bilal Syed

Advisor: Timothy Dittrich


Third place (tie): Developing Vascular Graft from Adipose-derived Stem Cells

A method to optimize coronary artery bypass grafting by differentiating Adipose-derived stem cells into fibroblasts through the addition of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) into the culture media.

Student: Ashley Apil

Advisor: Mai Lam


Portable Weather Stations

A platform to provide the military and others real-time weather data in remote locations.

Students: Brandon Jackson, Brian Atiyeh, Trevor Malarkey, Jeswanth Kodali

Advisors: Khayyam Hashmi, Sam Bryfczynski


Best app: Car Pool

A mobile app that matches users with similar commutes to coordinate ride sharing, compensate drivers and process payments.

Students: Muamer Besic, Evan Clifford, Omer Khan, Matthew Prigorac

Advisors: Khayyam Hashmi, Sam Bryfczynski


Best video: Underwater Artifact Location Using Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality (VIEW VIDEO)

A predictive model that replicates ancient Lake Huron landscapes and inhabitants to map experiences of hunters to assist archaeologists in their field work.

Students: Thomas Palazzolo, Samuel Dustin Stanley, Paul Janiczek, Angela Allen, Olubukola Akintoroye, Bailey Walker

Advisor: Robert Reynolds


Return to news