Biosystems Engineers Place Second

Biosystems Engineers Place Second at Engineer’s Day

The annual Engineer’s Day has been a UT tradition since 1912 and was held October 18, 2007 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Engineer’s Day is open to high school students across the state interested in engineering disciplines offered at the University of Tennessee. The visiting high school students participated in discussions hosted by the College of Engineering, demonstrations presented by clubs and organizations associated with these engineering departments, and competitions such as the Quiz Bowl, balsa bridge design and egg drop challenge. Judges for the event consisted of UT students, professors, top executives from companies such as Kimberly Clark and members of the Tennessee Technical Society.

Engineer’s Day is a wonderful recruitment opportunity for our department, as the visiting high school students are able to meet and talk with current students about their interests and the great career opportunities available with a Biosystems Engineering Degree. The judging of our display and presentation was great success for the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department, as we won second place in Class I!

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) presented the Field Saturated Automated Percolator (FSAP) designed by Charles Brewster and David Foster, two recent Biosystems graduates. A soil’s infiltration rate is a very important factor when designing septic systems; percolation tests are the most common way of identifying permeability. The FSAP is an automated percolator device that will save time and money for those performing percolation tests. This device controls the amount of water flowing into the borehole over time, which simultaneously calculates the flow rate and thus its permeability.

The handheld component of the FSAP consists of a keypad and LCD screen where borehole data is input and soil permeability data is output. All data collected during the test is stored on an Secure Digital (SD) Memory Card for the tester to download for further analysis. The economic analysis of the FSAP suggests that the annual savings of using this device over skilled technicians amounts to $15,000. Thanks to the guidance of the staff and faculty of the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Deparment and Decagon Devices, which donated $1500 at the start of the project, the FSAP prototype is a potentially marketable product.

SARGE, a robotic greenhouse watering device, was also on hand for demonstration though it was not formally presented for judging. We can’t wait for the possibilities of next year’s Engineer’s Day and the prospective students it brings to our department!

Britany Swann

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