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CSUN students place first and second at engineering conference

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Melissa Martinez, senior civil engineering major, Ana Avelar, senior engineering major, and Eliud Munguia, senior computer science major, hold up their 'Powered Footwear' prototype which won second place at the Society of Hispanic Engineers conference in Anaheim in October. Photo Credit: Tessie Navarro / Visual Editor

CSUN students won first and second place for their mechanical prototypes with the theme of ‘Living Green’ at the Society of Hispanic Engineers conference in Anaheim, Oct. 26-30.

Mechanical engineer major Jonathan Gjemso, 21, came up with the idea for the first place winner, the “Bench Press Power Generator.”

“It uses the energy that a person will have to work out and it transforms it into electrical energy that could either be put back into the grid or stored,” he said.

Evangelina Garcia, Andres Lopez and Michael Marchesan were also part of the first place team.

“They are taking the up and down motion that you have with a bench press and converting it to rotary motion, using a series of gears and pulleys,” said S.K. Ramesh, dean of the college of engineering and computer science. “The rotary motion depending on the gear ratio gets translated to electric power.”

Over 3,000 students participated all across the country, Ramesh said.

Teams first needed to submit their drafts and ideas. From there, 10 finalist teams were selected and given a $1,000 stipend to fund the building of their prototype to show at the conference.

“We were working really hard and were excited to win over private schools with more funding,” Gjemso said. “Our first reaction was being really proud of our work.”

Ramesh reviewed the bench press power generator proposal that compared different types of energy, production and wind energy, which is about 20 percent efficient.

Professor Dora Preminger helped with theory, making sure the formulas and calculations worked, and mechanical engineer professor Stewart Prince helped direct how to put it together, where to get the parts and how to machine it, said Gjemso.

All of the finalists expenses were paid for and the first place team won $3,000 and the second place team won $2,500.

The “Powered Footwear” prototype won second place, and students Ana Avelar, Melissa Martinez and Eliud Munguia worked on the project.

“It takes one year walking 30 minutes a day to completely charge one AA battery,” said Munguia. “Our goal was for one AA battery to charge in two hours, but we need more expensive material.”

The “Powered Footwear” team also wanted to make it inexpensive and sustainable.

“Events such as these are meant to close the gap in the work force,” Ramesh said. “It’s a national stage and it shows other students what can be done if working together as a team.”

The judges of the contest included government officials, company representatives and academia, Gjemso said.

The company that sponsored the contest is willing to offer $5,000 to develop a patent for the “Bench Press Power Generator,” Gjemso said.

“The campus is coming up with a new recreational center and if you can imagine devices of this kind being utilized there,” said Ramesh. “There is a way for us to produce energy.”

In 2009, CSUN students participated in the same contest, but for assistive technology and won first place with their “floating cabinet” design meant to help with disabilities and quality of life, said Ramesh.

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6 Comments

  1. Eliud Munguia Nov 8, 2011

    David,
    You have a very valid point of view from the information on this article alone. However I think you would need to know the background, full description and development of each project to fully understand their purpose, functions and applications.

    As member of one of the teams, I can tell you about our project; our initial idea was to design a device to be either inserted in a regular shoe, or be externally attached. The device would charge a detachable energy cell (a standard AA battery) as the person walked. We thought such device could be useful to hikers, soldiers, scientists, or any person who is often outdoors, not near power sources, and since it would charge as the person walked they could have energy readily available for any device they may use.Initial calculations showed promising results transforming kinetic energy from walking into electrical energy, and some piezoelectric materials are abundant, eco-friendly and inexpensive. However, such materials are not designed for energy harvesting, and more efficient materials for this purpose are at an early stage in development and are very expensive right now. We expect prices to come down as more research is done in this area. 
    While our prototypes showed results, with the time we had to work on this project (three weeks), and the limited funding for research, we weren’t able meet our goal.
    I would like to take this opportunity to aslo thank SHPE, and encourage anybody in STEM fields to find out more information about this organization and all the opportunities it offers. Finally, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers welcomes members from all races and ethnic backgrounds in the STEM fields; anybody who is an engineer, scientist, or mathematician should take advantage of all the opportunities SHPE has to offer. One example of many is the job career which takes place during the annual conference where over 300 companies show up to interview candidates and take resumes. More information on SHPE can be found at http://www.shpe.org

    1. Eliud Munguia Nov 8, 2011

      “One example of many is the **career fair** which takes place during the annual conference where over 300 companies show up to interview candidates and take resumes. More information on SHPE can be found at www.shpe.org”

  2. Eliud Munguia Nov 8, 2011

    The “Powered Footwear” team would like to thank Prof. Flynn and Prof. Katz from the ECE department for all their support and assistance to develop this project. Thank you.

  3. First of all I’d like to congratulate CSUN students for their achievements.  But…

    I hate to be a killjoy but really… Is this the future of “green” energy?  How many Bench Press Power Generators and at what cost do you think it would take to make even the most infinitesimal contribution to the power grid?  The idea is preposterous; but I wouldn’t be surprised if Congress subsidizes the Bench Press Power Generator Corp. with a half-billion dollars in taxpayers’ money so that they can generate fifty bucks worth of electricity.

    As for the powered footwear:  They need “more expensive material” to cut down the time it takes to charge an AA battery from one year at 30 minutes per day to two hours.  Just imagine how incredibly inefficient and hugely expensive this endeavor would be!  Capturing flatulence to warm homes would work better than this!

    I predict a winner for next year’s competition:  A device that converts to electricity the waves generated by feeding goldfish.

    1. Old Glory Nov 9, 2011

      The Wright Brothers didn’t invent a jet engine. But their contributions set the stage for what we have now.

      I am trying to figure out if you are being facetious or are serious.

      1. Virtually any kinetic energy can be converted to electricity.  That doesn’t mean that doing so is useful, efficient or even desirable.  My comment was not meant to negate the educational or engineering value of the projects.

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