Innovative UND engineering designs win awards

Two University of North Dakota engineering teams won first place cash awards of $1,500 each at the annual Freeman Innovative Design Competition held recently at the School of Engineering and Mines (SEM).

The competition, held in honor of Andrew Freeman, SEM alumnus and former general manager of Minnkota Power Cooperative, Inc., requires individuals or teams of engineering students to present their senior design projects to a panel of local engineers.

One of the first-place teams designed a device for deploying “augmented reality” (computer graphics added to real-world video) in large industrial environments. The software developed on this device will aid workers by supplying them with more information about machinery in the plant to make their jobs safer and easier. Examples would include making a steam pipe glow red when in use and virtual text indicating the pipe’s destination.

Team members, all mechanical engineering students, include: Tanner Broderick, Rolla, N.D.; David Nilsen, Duluth, Minn.; and Brandon Stutzman, Gilbert, Minn.

The other first-place winner was a team of electrical and mechanical engineering students that designed a payload that can fit into a Lockheed Martin Mini-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) with the purpose of capturing multispectral image data.

Team members are: Brett Kubat, electrical engineering, Oakdale, Minn.; Michael Hilbrand, electrical engineering/mechanical engineering, Baudette, Minn.; Samantha Kostrue, mechanical engineering, Fisher, Minn., Erica Nelson, Brainerd, Minn.; and Richie Spitsburg, mechanical engineering, East Grand Forks, Minn.

Taking home the second-place awards of $500 were teams of civil and chemical engineering students. The civil engineering team designed a flood-control structure for the Goose River in Traill County in eastern North Dakota.

Team members are: Dan Labo, Annandale, Minn.; Joe Vistad, Cavalier, N.D.; Tony Nordby, Grygla, Minn.; and Anthony Welder, Bismarck, N.D.

The chemical engineering team developed a process to produce 50 million gallons of bio-jet fuel from soybean oil annually. Team members are: Wade Mormon, Bismarck, N.D.; Leah Millner, Bismarck, N.D.; Cale Zlonis, Hibbing, Minn.; and Matt Johnson, Orono, Minn.

Andrew "Andy" Freeman was noted for his creativity and visionary leadership in the electric utility industry. An endowment was established in 1996 by Minnkota Power and others to honor Freeman. The interest earned from the endowment funds the annual design project awards, which are given in Freeman's name to individuals or teams of UND students that exhibit open-ended and innovative design work.