CMU students put innovation on display at annual showcase
More than 340 students showed off research papers, projects and posters featuring topics they delved into this semester at the third annual Student Showcase at Colorado Mesa University on Wednesday.
CMU and Western Colorado Community College students presented 141 projects around campus Wednesday afternoon. Local professionals picked favorites in various majors.
Chris Walters, a 26-year-old freshman in the Colorado Mesa/University of Colorado mechanical engineering program, won top place with four teammates in the first-year mechanical engineering design category. He and classmates Victoria Chavez, Dylan Ashby, Cody Warfield and Daniel Winegardner designed and created a hydrogen fuel cell that can launch a rocket, or, as one team member found out using his own vehicle as a test subject, give a Jeep 30 percent better fuel economy.
Walters said the fuel cell consists of a plexiglass reservoir filled with water and metal plates and tubing that help separate hydrogen and oxygen cells and send the hydrogen and oxygen gas through a tube to a rocket launcher. The project gave him inspiration for a career, he said.
“I knew I wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but I didn’t know what kind. This project has taught me maybe alternative energy is the way to go,” Walters said.
Aron Smalec, 24, also said his showcase project inspired him about a career. He worked on a computer-based training and quizzing program for police academy students. Smalec, a senior computer-science major, said he wants to create educational software and continue to fine-tune the quizzing program, called Academy Ace, after he graduates.
“I think this is a foot in the door,” Smalec said. “I want to do some user testing and get some feedback.”
Amber Harrington, a 23-year-old senior finance major, said working on a showcase project with two classmates this semester taught her to value teamwork and time management.
Harrington, Ashley Wiseman and Melissa Asay studied three entertainment industry titans, Disney, Viacom and MGM Grand, and learned about their stocks, profits and other business statistics.
“I want to do what we did here and be a professional financial analyst” after graduation, Harrington said.
A list of winners from the showcase is available online at GJSentinel.com.