High Tech with a Human Touch
Why Florida Tech?
Here, education gets real.
As a Florida Tech student you'll participate in project like these:
The hallmark of a Florida Tech engineering degree is the Senior Design project, a degree requirement for all undergraduates. Students collaborate as a team to design, build, secure funding, launch, present and even compete in regional and national competitions. Previous design projects include:
- The design and launching of a full-scale rocket
- An off-road Mini-Baja racer
- An underwater tracking device
- A mini-style formula car
- A radio frequency identification system
- A micro-unmanned aircraft vehicle
- A weigh-in-motion system using fiber-optics
- An autonomous robot
- A multi-purpose circuit board
- An above-land and underwater research aircraft
- An aircraft that can take off and land vertically and fly horizontally
Co-op at Kennedy Space Center
Florida Tech undergraduates gain research skills through the NASA, Kennedy Space Center cooperative education program. Ellen Groop, a recent physics graduate, was one of only 100 students selected nationwide to present her research to Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) members and representatives of the U.S. Congress at the 2001 Posters on the Hill event. Her studies of the electrostatic properties of Martian and lunar soil simulants may alleviate potential problems for Martian lander instrumentation.
Working the supervision of Dr. Pierre Larochelle, associate professor of mechanical engineering, undergraduates Stacy Dees and John Ketchel gained some of their real-world experience designing, fabricating and even securing a patent for their "Infinity Fan." Their design, which can sit on the floor or a tabletop, moves air up and down and in an "infinity" or sideways figure-eight pattern. This action eliminates the typical blast of air on those sitting next to a common oscillating fan.
Remotely Operated Vehicle
Two ocean engineering students, Adam Kay and Nick Callahan, have made major contributions to associate professor, Dr. Stephen Wood's, low-cost remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV is capable of carrying a video camera and an instrument to measure water turbidity. Dr. Wood favors the compact vehicle, which only costs $2,000, to a similar model currently selling for $14,000. Two Florida Tech faculty members have already put in requests for Wood's ROV to aid in their research.
SARA Astronomy Program
In conjunction with the Southeastern Association for Research and Astronomy (SARA), Florida Tech students have the opportunity to participate in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). Students participating in the REU conduct research atop Kitt Peak observatory in Tucson, Arizona. The SARA internship program is the largest National Science Foundation-sponsored REU astronomy program in the United States.
Simulate Earthquake Tremors
Five electrical and computer engineering students helped develop software for a vibration table that simulates earthquake tremors. "We proved we could make it for $2,500 vs. the $20,000 version we found available commercially. Ours has the same specifications, maybe better," said Dr. Hector Gutierrez, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization
A team of physics, space science and mechanical engineering students recently competed in a NASA Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Design Competition. The purpose of the nationwide competition was for students to develop ways to utilize lunar regolith (the topsoil on the Moon) to extract oxygen, water or other commodities necessary for lunar exploration and research operations. Obtaining and yielding such necessities makes research and even future colonization on the Moon a realistic possibility. The team's design included a robotic arm that transports soil to a reaction chamber where molten silicate electrolysis is used to extract oxygen from the soil. NASA will consider using their innovative design on a lunar launch in 2010.
Marine Field Projects
Integrating oceanography, ocean engineering, environmental science and meteorology to create an interdisciplinary knowledge base takes more than just classroom work. That's why the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems (DMES) developed the Marine Field Projects (MFP) summer program. Through a combination of specialized projects and an ocean research cruise, juniors and seniors are immersed in the field, applying knowledge and developing new skills to solve real-world problems. Projects range from particulate matter and air quality, Indian River Lagoon restoration, physical oceanography cruises in the Gulf Stream, to environmental instrumentation development.
High Energy Physics Research
Physics students like Sara Walker are doing research with the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large general-purpose particle detector under construction at the European Center for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. More than 1,850 scientists from 150 universities and research institutions in 34 countries collaborate on this experiment, studying high-energy proton-proton collisions to answer some of the most fundamental questions of nature, such as the origin of mass and the dominance of matter over antimatter in our universe.
Research conducted in the neurobiology laboratory is helping to clarify some of the fundamental mechanisms of sensory neurobiology using an unusual animal model-testing live snakes to determine whether vision or infrared imaging is more important to them. A better understanding of snake infrared imaging may aid in the development of highly sensitive artificial infrared detecting devices.
In an effort to examine the impact of fishing pressures on fish populations, an artificial reef site was created with railroad ties about 14 miles offshore of Sebastian Inlet. Undergraduates are assisting in fish population studies and are determining the colonization and productivity of the site. The results have far exceeded expectations in the variety and quantity of fish living on or around the reef.
Civil engineering students participate in the National Concrete Canoe Competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The project teams, which involve freshmen through graduate students, design, build and race canoes made of concrete.
Human Powered Submarine
Each year ocean engineering students design, build and race a human powered submarine. The underwater craft uses a two-person crew-one serving as navigator and driver, the other providing human-powered propulsion. Upon completion of their design, students compete in the International Submarine Races where they are evaluated on how well each submarine navigates a predetermined course and on the unique and creative use of materials, propulsion and hydrodynamics systems. The competition provides students with the opportunity to learn the challenges of designing and operating an underwater vehicle, both from their own failures and successes, as well as their competitors.
Offshore Oil Drilling in Worldwide Waterways
Oceanography students like Greg Delfosse work with Dr. Trefry, oceanography and environmental science professor, on the potential impacts of offshore oil exploration and production in the Beaufort Sea, Alaskan Arctic. Their research activities focus on riverbank and coastal dune activity; mapping of the riverbanks and coastal dunes; and taking current, salinity, temperature and depth measurements using oceanographic instrumentation.
Hydrogen Fuel Development
As part of the new Florida Tech Hydrogen Research Center, students are working to improve hydrogen fuel usage, including its production, safety, performance, as well as ways of making this new technology both reliable and economically feasible. One project in particular includes the retrofitting of a gasoline powered motor glider into a hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft.
Ecological Research in the High Andes Mountains
Associate professor of biological sciences, Dr. Bush, and a team of undergraduates are extracting sediment cores from Lake Titicaca, located within Peru and Bolivia. The lake is the highest in the world and the largest in South America. Students have examined an estimated 800 pollen and charcoal samples from the cores, and have traced a continuous sedimentary sequence spanning more than 140,000 years.
Lightning and Thunderstorm Processes
In the two years Dr. Joseph Dwyer, associate professor of physics, has been conducting lightning research, he and his students have reached startling conclusions. The conditions inside thunderstorms that were long thought necessary to produce lightning actually do not exist in nature. Their research, which includes the first documented-and repeatable-observations that triggered lightning, has been prestigious enough to get the attention of Scientific American, Space.com, MSNBC, The New York Times and the BBC, among others.
Students can participate in a variety of international programs of study ranging from several weeks or months, to a full year. Programs take place in the following locations: Australia, England, Italy, Africa, Budapest, Vienna, London, Costa Rica, the rainforests of Peru, the U.S. Appalachian or Rocky Mountains, and the deserts of the Southwestern U.S.