Apr 172011
Authors: Erin Udell

Friday marked an end for 314 senior engineering students as they presented their final senior design projects, wrapping up the department’s longstanding weeklong tradition of Engineering Days. 

The event’s final segment, which was free and open to the public, allowed seniors like chemical and biological engineering major Katie Marshall to showcase months of hard work and dedication.   

“A lot of these people have been staying up all night long working on these projects,” Marshall said. “It’s a great way for them to show off all the hard work they do.”

As part of the showcase’s only all-female team, Marshall and her partners Anna Judson and Christine Krumreich have worked since January on creating a process to convert lipid-extracted algae into bioethanol by using enzymes to break the algae down.

Marshall and her teammates got the idea for their showcase after seeing Ken Reardon, a professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, and a graduate student in the College of Engineering work on an enzymatic hydrolysis project.

“Our thought was to take the work he’s doing and test to see if it’s economically feasible to create a large scale process,” Marshall said. “Ultimately we pulled together and won third place for the (chemical and biological engineering) showcase.”   

Marshall’s team was one of 64 that participated in four different engineering categories: civil and environmental, mechanical, electrical and computer and chemical and biological.

Faculty, undergraduates and the entire Poudre School District were invited to the showcase, as well as 25 professional engineers from across Colorado who judged each project on its design and real world

“Engineering is about using science to create something useful and economical,” said Gordon Smith, an instructor in the College of Engineering who managed the senior design projects. “The economics is what distinguishes an engineer from a scientist.”

For junior civil and environmental engineering major Jesse Jankowski, who helped facilitate the showcase, the design projects helped him decide on becoming a Ram.

“When I was a high school student, I came to see E-Days, and I know that’s why I wanted to come to CSU,” said Jankowski, the current vice president of the Engineering College Council. “So it’s also a great recruitment tool for our college.”

Marshall, who will be graduating in May and taking a job at Suncor Energy Inc., a sustainable energy company based in Canada, said the senior showcase will also serve as a good sendoff into the “real world.”

“The students now can go out and know something that’s going on in the world,” Smith said. “And they enjoy it. They have a lot of fun.”

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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