Oregon Tech gives glimpse into future of technology
Oregon Tech held one of its most exciting event of the year Wednesday, June 7, at its Wilsonville campus. The school hosted its annual Capstone Student Project Symposium, which included more than 90 projects from students getting ready to graduate and enter the workforce.
Students displayed their hard work for the entire community to see, providing detailed information as well as demonstrations for anyone interested. Projects included everything from student-created, virtual-reality video games, to Android applications, thermoelectric generators (TEG) that create electricity from heat, a Baja racecar and even a door that requires a specific series of knocks to open.
A platform for students to share what they've been working on during the past year, Wednesday's symposium also allowed for students to meet and network with prospective employers. Representatives from companies across the high-tech landscape showed up to interact with students, even offering internships and scheduling interviews for jobs in some cases.
"This event is huge for our students to connect with industry leaders and show them what they can bring to the professional world," said Oregon Tech Vice President Laura McKinney before awards were handed out to exceptional projects. "This event gives our students the ability meet employers and hopefully get work experience that is needed."
Hosted in part by the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce, prizes were awarded by tech industry members to particularly impressive students based on video presentations. Among the winners was the trio of Jacob Niska, Austin Hinman and Jesse Nielsen for the tissue differentiation sensor they created during the past year. The device is noteworthy for a number reasons, most important of which is the function it serves. The working prototype essentially monitors cancerous tumors while several drug treatment combinations are introduced. What's exceptional about the sensor system, however, is that it will streamline a process that typically takes 6-8 weeks into just one week. By testing multiple drug combinations at once, oncologists can determine the right combination almost immediately.
Their current template has 49 sensors on it, but they hope to realize a design that would include some 1,500 sensors, making the product much more accurate and precise. The three seniors started brainstorming in August, starting with a simple design on a napkin. They plan to get a patent for their creation in the near future, and will also pass along part of the research for next year's seniors to build infrastructure for the system.
"What we've been told from numerous experts and from numerous people is that it's probably a patentable idea that can then be refined, so we will be approaching a patent and going ahead with that process," Hinman said. "The reason we want to do that is not so that we can cash out with it.
"For stage four situations, where the patient has exhausted every other therapy type, they can typically (afford) between $3,000-5,000. ... By patenting it and further developing it ourselves, we can ensure that that's what the cost of materials will be and it's affordable for patients."
While Hinman, Niska and Nielsen are simultaneously preparing to graduate and locate jobs, they're also excited about what's in store regarding their project. Their hope is
that their discovery can do some real good in the world someday.
"This could be a really important technology. It's not just the really fast-growing tumors that this could help, this could help any of them," Hinman said. "Right now we don't have any technologies, that if the tumor is identified in the body, where (doctors) can interact directly with the tumor and figure out its responsiveness."
Roman Bogza was a Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce finalist, earning recognition for a project he completed while working with Intel in Wilsonville. For his project he created a sensor for smart watches — like a Fitbit or Apple Watch — which communicates with computers to add security and ease for customers. Bogza — who has been hired on to continue with the project at Intel following his graduation — says the product is part of a larger design of interactive sensors.
"The bigger picture is a sort of smart office, where there are going to be multiple sensors and eventually a network of sensors that will authenticate and identify users," he said. "There will be sensors placed in your chair, your keyboard, your mouse, and all these sensors will use specific information, and use that information to identify who you are. So there are security purposes for this design, but other benefits down the road as well."
While networking with the business community was a priority for many Wednesday night, it was also an opportunity for students to reflect on their Oregon Tech experiences and appreciate the work of their peers. The 90-plus projects were just a glimpse of the potential students have for the future.
"It's great to come together and share our work with one another in a setting like this," said Jacob Freeman, who presented a balancing robot that used an accelerometer and gyroscope to navigate on wheels. "The work everyone has put
in is amazing. It's a great event."