Swimming prosthesis improves strokeProsthetic legs gave 56-year-old Jeffery Evans the ability to walk, but the exercise eventually proved too hard on his legs, so he took up swimming instead. Swimming, however, also has been a challenge. Luckily, Evans was able to sponsor a senior project that enabled mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering students to develop a prosthetic swim fin to further perfect and improve the efficiency of his stroke. The fin designed by students Alex Demith, Ian Lawson, and James Cooper is allowing Evans to keep swimming and stay fit while improving his mobility. Continue reading

Protecting grapes from birdsBirds such as robins and starlings enjoy grapes as much as humans do, which tends to cause endless headaches for Willamette Valley growers. Winemakers Dick and Gretchen Evans sponsored mechanical engineering majors Robert Elgin, Peter Cathcart, and Greg Meshnik to develop a solution that would mitigate crop damage by birds before and during the grape harvest season. Continue reading

Reclaiming wastewater nutrientsThe City of Corvallis wants to harvest and recycle nutrients from landfill leachate to create a revenue stream for the city while cleaning up its wastewater. Last year, a College of Engineering senior project team worked with Multiform Harvest, Inc. and the City of Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant to make a fertilizer called struvite from landfill runoff at the Coffin Butte Landfill. However, the 2011 team discovered that excess calcium was interfering with the reclamation process, so this year’s team addressed that issue. Continue reading

Improving compostable utensilsA Corvallis-based, award-winning startup called EcNow Tech provides compostable cutlery to the Oregon State University dining center and several local restaurants. The cutlery breaks down like green waste and therefore avoids the landfill. The company invited chemical engineering majors Chad Thomsen, Meaghan Jones, and Sean Crawford to investigate which locally sourced materials might serve as superior filler to augment the base from which their cutlery is currently derived.

“It’s really cool from the sustainability standpoint,” said Thomsen, “they’re looking to incorporate locally sourced products and benefiting local businesses.” Continue reading