School of Mines seniors present impressive capstone projects

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RAPID CITY S.D. (KEVN) Future engineers are showing their talent. We caught up with a few brainiacs to talk about how they are changing the world... one science project at a time.

This may look like a science fair to the average onlooker but these projects are well above your typical baking soda and vinegar volcano.

Jason Ash, associate professor of mechanical engineering says, "We have over 60 teams here at the design fair today from all of the engineering programs as well as computer science."

Most of these students are just about to graduate and all their undergraduate knowledge has led them to these projects.

Ash says, "I think it reflects positively on the university as a whole it really enables students to get experience with those applications before heading out into industry or to academia graduate studies."

Some teams were even called upon by specific companies to design a project to fix an industry problem.

Paul Schroder, Senior RND Engineer with Pella Windows says, "We had this problem that was ongoing at our factory for a long time And we just didn't have time to devote people to do it and honestly some of the parts of the problem were really outside our expertise and so it just occurred to me that perhaps we could use the expertise of the students who I was really impressed with."

Companies like NASA seek out work from students because of their innovation and creativity.

Dakota Rusley, senior computer engineering major says, "In 2060, mankind is going to need to produce twice as much food as we do right now in order to feed everyone. Twice as much. There is not that much land and so we need to make smarter decisions as to how we manage our crops."

NASA funded this team since 2015 to create a solution for crop analysis through a different way of taking images.

Rusley says, "This is a multi-spectral imager for crop health ... Similar to how if you look at a plant and say oh, it's green it must be healthy, if you look at it under other wavelengths of light like the near infrared and infrared spectra, you can tell a lot more."

And creating a physical project has really paid off for some students.

"Right now I actually have a full -time job with NASA so when I graduate I will be working out at Goddard Space Flight Center out in Maryland," says Rusley.

And Rusley says it's this type of work that put him on the top of the list for his dream job.

Rusley says, "Not only did we design this, we did all the analysis we did the science we did the math we built it, we tested it, it exists and that's the kind of thing that employers are looking for. They are looking for engineers that know how to use their hands, that know how to build something, not just sit behind a computer and type and do the math."