Technology is changing so fast that it can be difficult to teach computer science and engineering students the latest in their fields. Seattle University therefore tries to ensure that its graduates “learn how to learn”.
On Friday, students showcased year-long projects done in partnership with Northwest organizations — from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and F5 Networks to community groups, government departments, and small businesses like Seattle City Light, a non-profit organization called Mari’s Place for the Arts, and Redmond Dudes Baseball – to help solve their computing and engineering problems.
Now in its 35th year, the Project Center at Seattle U has assigned approximately 180 senior and master’s students to 40 teams to work on the projects.
The students are “facing a technological challenge to which they don’t know the answer,” said Rachael Brown, director of the Project Center.
Senior Mason Adsero was part of one of three teams that partnered with Kenworth Truck Co., a subsidiary of PACCAR, based in Bellevue, Washington. Their project used machine learning to develop a more efficient process for managing truck customization to meet customer needs. They trained their model on Kenworth’s engineering database and used Tableau software to visualize the results. They met via Zoom almost weekly with liaisons from Kenworth.
It was a technical stretch for the students.
“It was pretty overwhelming at first,” Adsero said. “We were all in deep water.”
But team members say they have managed to create a working model which they will hand over to Kenworth.
In addition to exploring new technological challenges, students said the projects were an opportunity to work as a team; communicate and receive feedback from partner organizations that act as clients; do project management; setting schedules and goals; and practice giving presentations.
“It gives them experience that makes them a more well-rounded professional even before they graduate from college,” Brown said.
Participants included students from the departments of Computer Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Each team had at least one liaison officer from the partner organization or “sponsor” plus an educational adviser.
Large sponsor organizations pay a fee to participate in the program, while smaller businesses or non-profits join for free or pay a lower amount. Sponsors are able to retain software, devices, and other intellectual property created by the effort.
Amazon has been working with Seattle U students since 2001.
“Participating in Seattle U Project Day gives Amazon the opportunity to engage with smart, ambitious science and engineering students who will soon be looking for jobs,” said Drew Herdener, vice president. president of global communications for Amazon, via email.
The company sponsored six teams this year. This included several cloud projects, such as one to classify AWS Partner Network data and another that created a tool for developers to manage workflow, as well as creating technology to monitor servers. its data centers.
So, is the company actually using student-generated products?
“Generally and most often, student projects are proof of concept and help us determine whether a particular program holds promise and how it might be executed,” Herdener said.
Profiles of all projects are available here. Keep reading for descriptions of three other teams:
Beaver and salmon dams Science
Beavers build dams in some places that are inconvenient for humans, causing flooding of farmlands, homes and roads. A team of three students studied the impact of devices called pond levelers in regulating the amount of water stored behind a dam and the ability of salmon to navigate dams at different water levels.
The team built its own devices to remotely monitor water levels every 15 minutes and deployed them at four dam sites. While the students were successful in collecting data, there were still unanswered questions for the project, so Seattle U applied for and received a grant to continue the work over the summer.
Seniors Ruby Rañoa and Lailan Uy said the project was challenging but rewarding.
“When you plan for field work, you think everything will go well,” Uy said. But anything that can go wrong will. “When you go out, you have to solve a lot of problems,” she added.
- Team Members: Jazmine Patten, Ruby Rañoa, Lailan Uy
- Sponsor: Snoqualmie Valley Watershed Improvement District
- Academic Advisor: Dr. Se Yeun Lee
Climatic improvements of the Saint-Jacques cathedral
Officials at St. James’s Cathedral in Seattle were eager to work with students to develop plans to reduce their energy use and work toward carbon neutrality. The Catholic Church participated in the Seattle U program ten years ago to take the first steps towards energy efficiency.
“The real impetus for this year has been to recognize that the climate crisis is intensifying and how can we as a cathedral take better care of our resources and the earth,” said Patrick Barredo, Outreach Director and St. James’s Social Advocacy.
Officials at the 115-year-old cathedral have had regular Zoom meetings with students. The team visited the site several times, reviewed utility bills, analyzed existing equipment and measured interior spaces.
The students will provide St. James with a final report, and officials said their first step would be to install a new control system to optimize the facility’s heating. Future plans could include switching to electric heat pumps and kitchen appliances, and possibly installing solar and electric vehicle charging sites.
The hope, Barredo said, is that the cathedral will be a model for other churches.
- Team Members: Joshua Carbajal, Daniel Henriksen, Huy Nguyen, Robert Wooldridge, Brant Yamamoto
- Sponsor: Saint-Jacques Cathedral
- Pedagogical advisor: Dr. Shen Ren
Kenworth Truck Battery Monitoring
Daniel Lee’s team of six students set out to develop monitoring hardware, software and a test platform for Kenworth to measure the efficiency of its electric truck batteries.
The experience provided plenty of learning opportunities, Lee said, including “project management and planning because we all have busy schedules and needed so many pieces to fit together at once.”
But that was not all. The seniors also learned how to “quickly solve problems that arose because we had a few electronic fires and explosions,” he said. The team worked through their challenges and created a prototype that could be a model to use with different vehicles.
“It was really nice,” Lee said, “to be able to apply everything we learned over our four years into an actual product that would ultimately make a difference.”
- Team Members: Jackson Christian, Paula Fijolek, James Finnestad, Daniel Lee, Matthew Miramon and Kayla Smith
- Sponsor: Kenworth Truck Co.
- Pedagogical advisor: Dr Yen-Lin Han