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Engineering Academy students showcase their skills with water-testing simulators

Student-designed robots simulate testing a water supply and identifying proper antiviral agents

May 16, 2016

Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham students Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham students recently showcased their skills with projects that simulate the sorting and delivery of antiviral agents into water wells in remote, non-accessible sites.

The students created the project for their ENGR 112: Foundation of Engineering II class, a Texas A&M course that was previously only available to students within the Dwight Look College of Engineering.

Each group of students designed and constructed an automatic round pellet (marble) dispenser to introduce needed antiviral agents into water wells to help stop the spread of disease. The robots that simulate the dispenser each read a bar code, then based on the information contained in the bar code, disperse the appropriate numbers and types of pellets or marbles.

“If successful, these are the types of projects that will improve the quality of life in our part of the universe,” said Dr. Allen Godwin, associate professor of engineering practice at Texas A&M. “This project overlaps with two of the 14 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering, with access to clean water and advanced health informatics. Many of these students, upon graduation, may end up working on solutions to these 14 Grand Challenges. Developing new technology to address and resolve a grand challenge is not an easy task.”

The project is part of the students’ final grade, and must include a dispenser demonstration –then be presented as a business pitch before the end of the semester.

“There are about 12 different marbles and the machine reads a bar code to distribute those marbles in the correct place,” said Phillip Ho, a freshman enrolled in the Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham. “There is a color sensor in the machine that communicates which marble should be dropped.”

Students worked in groups of six or eight students. Group communication is a must to complete the project before the end of the semester.

“I learned a lot about proper collaboration and communication within a group,” said Michael Florer, a graduate of Faith Academy of Bellville. “We have been able to learn to communicate as a group and help the computer and robot communicate effectively.”

The Texas A&M Engineering Academy at Blinn-Brenham is offered in partnership with Texas A&M University’s Dwight Look College of Engineering. Academy students participate in a living and learning community in which they live together in the Blinn College Park Apartments and take their first-year math, science and engineering courses together.

Texas A&M engineering courses are taught on the Blinn-Brenham campus by Texas A&M faculty. Students who successfully complete the program are guaranteed full admission into Texas A&M, and have a strong transfer application into a degree-granting major within Look College.