Around campus, seniors from all majors are gathering in labs and conference rooms to put the finishing touches on their papers, projects, internships and presentations. They are on the cusp of realizing the crowning achievement of their MSOE experience—the senior project.
The MSOE community, as well as family and friends, come together to honor these efforts and see what students have learned during the university’s annual senior project showcase before Spring Commencement.
Project ideas typically take shape in the fall of senior year. Individually and on teams, students spend the next nine months trying to solve a problem, improve a product or process, or create something entirely new. Guided by faculty advisors and partners in industry—these projects are more than just a grade.
Architectural engineering and construction management students are flexing their academic muscles on the $100 million River One project, Michels Corporation’s mixed-use development involving co-sponsors Michels and Gilbane Construction. The development features offices, apartments, mixed-use commercial, restaurants and a hotel on a six-acre site overlooking the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee’s Harbor District. Two student teams are working on a solution for the hotel, while one is developing the office building.
“Senior design has been an awesome experience, but that’s not to say it has not been tough! Since the project really started to take off in fall quarter, the entire process has been a real test of time management and collaboration. I really have enjoyed the experience and the challenge that it has provided for me and my teammates,” said Riley Buol, a construction management major. His team, “Goliath Construction,” is developing a six-story hotel with 100 rooms and street level retail/commercial space. To prepare for the project, they interviewed representatives from Michels and the City of Milwaukee. They had to take the site’s geography into consideration as they designed the structure, and also planned the mechanical systems for the building.
“MSOE and the amazing students presenting their projects have a lot to be proud of. It was an honor for Michels to participate in the MSOE Senior Project. The future of construction is in very good hands,” said David Stegeman, chief legal officer and senior vice president of mergers and acquisitions and real estate for Michels.
Betsy McBride, who graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, reflected on the practical value of the senior project. “From a technical perspective, the MSOE senior design project is the most ‘life-like’ project an engineering student could experience,” she said.
McBride’s senior design team participated in the NASA Robotic Mining Competition, which challenges students to design and build a mining robot that can maneuver on simulated Martian terrain and excavate regolith from the ground. Her team focused on the electrical system and autonomous operation using image recognition and radar detecting systems.
“From the tight schedule and technical depth, to the interaction with your advisor/customer, the senior design project gives you a glimpse of the engineering cycle in the real world,” said McBride, who is now an electrical engineer in Lockheed Martin’s Engineering Leadership Development Program. “For me, this is when everything really came together, and I realized I was made to be an electrical engineer.”