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Published: 16 Jan, 2019 Updated: 17 Jan, 2019, 17:02

Design-Build-Test course - future engineers solve future problems

NEWS [2018-01-16] How to study the growth of ectomycorrhizal roots, the jumping performance of an athlete, a flight of an insect, or fish migration in a small creek? How does it feel to walk on Mars? How can water be purified on a large-scale? The engineering students from the Design-Build-Test course presented yesterday the innovative outcome of their projects at the KBC Focus Environment.

In the Design-Build-Test course, teams of engineering students with mixed competences train how to effectively combine their skills to find an innovative technical solution to problems offered by research projects at Umeå University or local companies. The five-month course covers the entire development chain from the idea to the test of the developed product.

"The course aims to train the students in project management, budget planning, and product presentation but they also learn a lot about team building and group dynamics", says Martin Rosvall from the Integrated Science Lab (IceLab) who is the organiser of the course. "Every team member brings in a certain set of skills. The students learn to combine their skills to find solutions to technical problems. Without a solution key in the back of the textbook, which they are used to have, there is no other way. The students find it scary in the beginning and rewarding in the end when they realise what they can accomplish together."

The course concluded with the interactive poster and product presentation that was organised yesterday at the KBC Focus Environment. Students presented six different projects and impressed with many creative ideas and innovative solutions.


Short description of the presented student projects:

WINDOTRON 2.0: Part 1, the development of a wind tunnel to be used for marketing purposes for the Bachelor Program in Biology and Earth Science. The wind tunnel gives prospective students the possibility to experience wind speeds up to 35 m/s while being recorded or photographed and to obtain the result in an efficient way. Part 2, optimization of the environment and camera setup for tracking, compatible with the software Toxtrac, the flight of bees in a tunnel.

F.A.S.T Feedback for Athletic Speed Training: Photon Sports Technologies AB is a company based in Umeå. They work with modern 3D cameras to provide feedback on training and speed testing. The project aim was to utilise Photon Sports existing technology to create a product that measures an athlete's jumping capabilities.

The Mars Landscape: A project about sparking the interest for science and space. Over the last years it has become clear that the interest for science is relatively low, especially in the younger children. Therefore the main goal for this project was set to inspire and spark an interest. It was early decided that an experience evolving as many senses as possible was aimed for, and this resulted in an experience that starts with a space tunnel where you get the feeling you are walking through space. On the other side of the tunnel an informative platform is built up, with short and interesting facts together with pictures and small things representing the planet Mars.

Imaging and Detection of Ectomycorrhiza Roots Using Machine Learning: The roots of temperate and boreal forest trees can form a symbiosis with certain fungi. This symbiosis is called ectomycorrhiza (ECM), which develops a so-called hartig net co-existing with the root cells. This symbiosis protects and increases the nutrition uptake of the roots. To understand the formation of this symbiosis, experiments are conducted in sterile tissue culture systems in petri dishes using poplar. Analysing the root growth and morphology may be time consuming however due to exponential root growth in combination with manual quantification. Thus, a pipeline for standardizing and automating the imaging and analysis process using machine learning was the goal of this project.

Identification of Wild Fish: Development of a fish-counting system for small water streams. To be able to automatically monitor fish migration is of interest for both the industry and for scientific reasons. The present counting systems that exist on the market are very expensive and specialized for large streams. The goal for this project was to develop a cheaper automatic counting system specialized for small water streams and creeks.

Automation of large-scale water treatment system: Foundation and application on purification for industrial purposes. The purpose of this project was to build a two- step system to purify large amounts of liquids. The system is automatic and controlled by a tailored software and has a dynamic flow system for optimal control of the extraction process. The idea is to create a product that gives a foundation to how a dynamic, large- scale, multi-step system would work on an industrial level.

If you have further questions, please contact Martin Rosvall (