Engineering Students at Senior Design Expo Ready to Change the World

At the Senior Design Expo on April 29, graduating VCU engineering students displayed the inventive and ambitious projects they created this year during their eight-month-long senior design class.

The expo, which was held at the Science Museum of Virginia, is an annual tradition that provides students with an opportunity to showcase their work, an impressive assortment of projects designed to benefit society through product innovation.

Projects included such items as biodevices that help with blood flow; “The Delimbinator,” which removes limbs from trees; an extraterrestrial seismometer that detects earthquakes on other planets or moons; and a multifunctional glove mouse designed to ease wrist strain.

Wendy Jiang, a chemical engineering student, worked with her team to develop a paper-based health testing device.

“As a team, we wanted to work with a micro-reactor to target the problem of high cost and low availability of medical equipment in third-world countries,” Jiang said.

Jiang collaborated on the project with team members Ryan Andrus, Puja Bharucha, Richard Crenwelge and Maria McClintock. The project won the expo’s Excellence in Design: Best in Show prize.

“In order to have project goals met, we were working cross discipline with the electrical engineers on the first floor of the engineering school and with the pathology department (at the VCU Medical Center),” Jiang said. “It was all about locating resources.”

The urinalysis testing strips the team used in the experiments were donated by the Daily Planet, a nonprofit organization that provides a range of health and human services resources to the Richmond community.

“It was very generous of them,” Jiang said. “We got great support and help from everybody in terms of getting this project complete.”

Mark Hubbard, an electrical engineering student from Richmond, was excited about the process of creation.

“It was definitely exciting,” Hubbard said. “It’s supposed to be the high point of your college career and definitely the biggest challenge of your abilities – to be able to organize a challenge and accomplish it.”

For William Clavijo, an electrical engineering student from Ecuador, the expo was about producing results.

“This project has been seven years (long) at VCU. No one has had successful results, but now, we made it. Our transistors are working,” said Clavijo.

Whether it was the future applications of a project, the accomplishment of creating something or the thrill of taking a project to the next level, students at the expo agreed that the senior design program was a rewarding experience.

“Just seeing our work as a whole, seeing our idea come to life – we did all that,” said Harvey Samaco, a computer engineering student from Mechanicsville.  “We were able to create something.”

The senior design program has been a part of the School of Engineering curriculum since 1999 and is a requirement for graduation. The students must complete a hands-on design project in their chosen field of engineering.

For more information on the Senior Design Expo, visit

Wendy Jiang, senior chemical engineering student, poses with her team's award for Excellence in Design: Best in Show. 

Photo by Sarah Rodriguez
Wendy Jiang, senior chemical engineering student, poses with her team's award for Excellence in Design: Best in Show. Photo by Sarah Rodriguez