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Local Events Celebrate Innovation In Engineering
April 2009

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) da Vinci Center for Innovation in Product Design and Development will sponsor da Vinci Day 2009, celebrating innovation borne from the convergence of the arts, business, and engineering.

Free and open to the public, the event will be held on April 15th in the VCU Student Commons.

Lecture topics include, “Operation Simple: Designing a $500 Surgical Table for Developing Countries,” presented by a team of engineering, art, and business students participating in the da Vinci Center, followed by keynote lecture, “Leonardo and the Unity of Art and Science,” by Dr. Bülent Atalay, Professor of Physics at the University of Mary Washingon. A reception with book signing follows at the School of Engineering West Hall Courtyard.

Motivated by the challenging health care needs in Bangladesh, students participating in the “Operation Simple” project will discuss the inspiration, mechanical and engineering development, and business modeling involved in developing a surgical table that can be designed and shipped to developing countries for $500.

In his discussion, “Leonardo and the Unity of Art and Science,” Dr. Atalay explores Leonardo da Vinci’s intriguing relationship with art and science.

The da Vinci Center at VCU provides a framework for teaching and practicing the science and art of product development. It brings together the disciplines of engineering, business, and design to engage the creative, the technical, and the commercial elements that comprise successful product development. Students participating in the da Vinci Center are working together to develop innovative approaches to addressing 21st century industrial challenges.

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Engineering presents Senior Design Expo 2009, where teams of engineering students share their innovative research and design prototypes with the greater Richmond community.

The event, free and open to the public, will be held on April 24th in the atrium and East Hall Lawn at the School of Engineering.

Part of the School of Engineering curriculum since 1999 and a requirement for graduation, the Senior Design Program teaches leadership skills in a collaborative environment and provides students the opportunity to develop projects that may lead to product innovation.

On average, 43 student teams participate in the Senior Design program and the Expo has become a signature event. As noted by Bill Lamp, Principal, Engineers Plus in Richmond, Virginia, “Each year I look forward to seeing the prototypes and listening to their presentations. Many offer new perspectives and thinking, a few are award winning, but all highlight the talent, energy and potential that new engineers bring to the diverse world of problem solving.”

Highlights of this year’s Expo include a hover craft and a model fission reactor created by a team of mechanical engineering students. Other projects will include: PEM Fuel Cell Stack, Portable Solar Desalination, Thermoelectric Generation, and Alternative Fuel from Cellulose.

The Senior Design Expo also helps to raise awareness of engineering, science, and technology for middle and high school students. Select area students will be invited to make a “field trip” to attend the Expo, discuss projects with student team members, tour the facilities, and learn more about studying engineering in a university or college setting.

Contact Brian Thomas at for more details on these events.

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