Projects, Research, and Internships

A. Student Projects:

Our majors complete a number of projects in the course of their studies.  The projects are team-based and open-ended.  They usually involve a research component, a design component, an analysis and testing component, and a communications (oral and written) component.  The large project of the Senior year culminates in the Senior Thesis.

Project examples are listed in the order in which they appear in the curriculum:
 

  Course and Project Examples
First Year EGR 106 (Engineering Design) Design Problem:  Iron ore stamping mill, microcomputer-controlled alarm system for a model museum, microcomputer-controlled wind generator regulation system, fire-fighting robot, catapult.
Second Year EGR 236 (Mechanics and Properties of Solids) Structural Design Problem:  Model Bridge competition, boom and derrick design.
Third Year EGR 332 (Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics) Design Problem: Solar Still Competition.
Fourth Year EGR 490/491 (Senior Capstone Engineering Design) Interdisciplinary Robotics Design Problem: Autonomous, line-tracking racecarfire-fighting robot.


B. Student Research:

There are also opportunities for students to work with faculty members on separate research projects. 

In the summers of 1999 through 2001, Sara Eggers, Sarah Parks, and Blake Dirksen have worked with Dr. McLaughlin on a research project that included travel and lodging for five weeks at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).  The research topic was "Energy and Angular Momentum Partitioning in Many-Body Quantum Systems" and involved crossing atomic beams with the world-class synchrotron x-ray source at the LBNL in Berkeley, CA.  Support for these students came from the Iowa College Foundation and the National Science Foundation, including a stipend of $1300.  A $56,000 grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Dr. McLaughlin guarantees the continuance of this research project for the next three years.  Laura Becker will take part in this research project in the upcoming summer of 2002.  In order to involve a greater number of students, this research program is being expanded to the Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC), the synchrotron facility just south of Madison, WI that is run by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and supported by the National Science Foundation.  In the spring 2002 semester, Blake Dirksen has made five trips along with Dr. McLaughlin to the SRC constructing the vacuum system and data acquisition interfacing necessary to initiate this research program.

In addition to the research opportunities that involve travel to national laboratory facilities, Dr. McLaughlin has initiated a student research program on the Loras College campus that involves converting a 7.5-foot diameter satellite dish into a radio telescope.  This project involves interfacing the satellite dish with two computer-driven motor drives on two axes that allow the entire sky to be surveyed through an azimuthal as well as an elevation angle.  One of the initial goals of this radio telescope program is to develop the electronics to discriminate a spectroscopic signature of hydrogen gas in the Milky Way and use the Doppler effect to discern the motion of our galaxy.  John Fenech is the student that has been involved with the construction of this early phase research project during the spring 2002 semester.

Professor Swift and Laura Becker received a grant from the Iowa College Foundation to study the effects of photovoltaic module temperature on independent energy system performance for the 2002-2003 academic year.

Professor Swift and senior Beth Mihm received a $1500 grant during the Spring 2003 semester to refurbish the Loras College Seismic Station with the goal of bringing it back on-line via the internet.

Additional opportunities for student employment in the department include assistants in the Heitkamp Planetarium as well as evening departmental tutors, homework grading, and laboratory setup.

C. Internships:

Internships involve students working part-time (semester internships) or full-time (summer internships or co-op programs) for a company or agency. The criteria for these internships are a strong GPA as well as departmental faculty endorsement. Below are some of our recent students' internship experiences:

  • Summer internship, full-time, Scot Forge Company (custom forging company), Spring Grove, IL, CAD work.
  • Summer internship, full-time, Sauer-Sundstrand (hydrostatic pumps and motors), Ames, Iowa, technical documentation for pumps.
  • Semester internship, part-time, City of Dubuque, GIS (geographic information systems), programming work using the Informix geometric database.
  • Summer internship, full-time, Genesis Systems (Quad Cities, robotic welding equipment), writing technical standards.
  • Summer internship, full-time, Horsfield Construction, construction site supervision.
  • Summer internship, full-time, Novaspect/Fisher-Rosemount Systems (Oak Forest, Illinois, process management products).
  • Semester internship, part-time, Entegee (Mid-States Technical, CAD design center), CAD work.
  • Summer internship, full-time, Vermeer Corporation, Pella, Iowa.  Inventory management system and design and prototype of camera for horizontal boring machines. 
  • Summer internship, full time, LabStrong Corporation, Dubuque, Iowa.   Model, design, build and test of prototypes to enhance existing products. 
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