4 student projects that meet real-world needs

You don’t have to wait until you’re out in the world to start meeting real-world needs. At Calvin, you’ll employ your most creative thinking to tackle an intensive engineering design project in the field of your choice.


  •   Author: Michal Rubingh and Jessica Hewitt
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
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Senior design projects give you the opportunity to take command of what you’ve been learning for the past three years and put it into practice. Check out these projects to get a window into the mind of a developed Calvin engineer.

Coffee without cruelty

Many coffee drinkers are willing to pay high prices for the rich flavors of Kopi Luwak or Black Ivory coffee. But Team Pseudo Civet, a group of five chemical engineering students, was troubled to learn the truth behind it: artisan coffee beans are often produced by animals like elephants and civets kept in cruel conditions. So the team created an alternative method for producing high-end coffee beans. They designed an enzymatic process that mimics the chemical reactions in a mammal’s stomach. And it produces an exquisitely rich coffee bean—without the middle-mammal.

Shelter from hurricanes

Team Maximize responded to Haiti’s rapidly growing population and fear of destruction from powerful storms. They worked to produce affordable housing kits that could withstand the force of a category four hurricane. By creating these kits, this team of civil engineers sought to meet the estimated need of 200,000 homes by 2030. Their goal was to make the kits accessible to lower class communities who experience the most need for shelter.

Saltwater to freshwater 

The four mechanical engineers on Team Desalination Station designed a desalination (water purifying) system that average families would be able to purchase at a lower cost. In a world that’s short on freshwater, desalination systems were originally created to take natural salts out of a substance like water. Unfortunately, those systems are usually expensive and impractical because of the amount of energy it takes to run them. This team’s design used a more efficient process involving ultrasonic vibrations and low pressures to purify water.

Lawn mowing by GPS

Mowing the lawn is the kind of chore no one wants to do. The electrical engineering students on Team Cal Cut designed a way that no one has to—no one but the lawn mower itself. With a GPS navigation system and built-in obstacle detectors, this lawn mower could follow a set path around a lawn for a mow time of one hour per charge. The team also put safety measures in place to switch off the blade if something caused the mower to flip over.

  •   Author: Michal Rubingh and Jessica Hewitt
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

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