Another project, sponsored by Omron Automotive Electronics, focused on improvements to the company’s manufacturing processes. Students worked with assembly line personnel to troubleshoot the process of gluing the cover on a fuel pump relay. They also re-designed a mixed-model assembly cell for greater efficiency.
These might seem like more-or-less standard industrial engineering projects, but IIT doesn't offer undergraduate degrees in industrial engineering. Instead, the project challenged students majoring in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, and math to come up with solutions. Omron engineers were pleased with the students’ work, and the company will be sponsoring another project next semester.
Some projects are based on ideas developed by students themselves. One group of students focused on improving the IIT campus’ visibility in navigation apps such as Google Maps. They came up with the idea of rooftop advertising that will be visible in satellite images. The students designed a roof covering for the school’s gymnasium imprinted with the school logo. They also came up with a proposal for a “green roof” for another campus building, which will display the school’s logo by means of live plants. They even built prototype green tiles to determine how the roof would drain. The school's administration was impressed and is planning to move forward with the idea.
My personal favorite? A group of students bought a refrigerator and divided it into 21 individual locked compartments. Commuter students will be able to rent space in the refrigerator for $20 a semester. Compared to buying food on campus, that's a bargain. The individual compartments ensure that students won't have to worry about anyone stealing their sandwiches. Odor-absorbing particles built into the walls (along with regular cleaning, included in the price) ensure that one student's forgotten lunch won't ruin the experience for everyone else. It may not be cutting-edge engineering, but it's a great idea that meets a real-world need.