A culmination of two semesters of work designing and implementing engineering systems to solve community problems was showcased recently as part of the Global Design Team capstone program offered by Texas A&M University’s department of biological and agricultural engineering.
The capstone class spans fall and spring semesters and provides undergraduate students with real-world engineering challenges from private and public sectors. Students in three- to five-member teams work closely with sponsors and communities to develop solutions to the challenges posed, said Dr. Rabi Mohtar, professor in biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M in College Station.
“This program highlights agricultural systems management and biological and agricultural engineering showcase projects,” Mohtar said. “It is judged by graduate students and faculty. One thing unique about the capstone projects is community service. The instructors work hard in soliciting projects that connect with community design solutions. We have domestic projects and about half of the projects are global. The students work for a full year collecting data and designing a solution.
“Some of the global projects we have include one in Ecuador, one with a farmer in Hawaii and another with schools in Costa Rica. It’s a celebration of a full year of work with students, faculty, sponsors and advisors.”
Crystal Bradley, a senior biological and agricultural engineering major, was part of a team that developed a wastewater treatment system in Costa Rica.
“We were tasked with developing a system that is sustainable and gravity fed,” she said. “It was implemented in a rural community, served 110 community members and treated 500 gallons per day.”
Jaimie Hicks Masterson, project coordinator with the Texas Target Communities program at Texas A&M, was one of the sponsors of another project benefitting underserved communities in Houston.
She worked with researchers within the institute and community on two projects identified as priorities by community partners. One was the Manchester Air Quality Monitoring System, which addressed the need of an air quality monitoring program on the east side of Houston. The other was Sunnyside Low-Impact Design Management on the southside of Houston, which dealt with flood issues in community.
The students were able to tackle those problems and give great prioritized solutions to those problems, she said.
Article by Blair Fannin | AgriLife Today