It could be the best-kept secret in town — at least when it comes to solving engineering and design problems affordably.
Today is Senior Design Day at Vanderbilt University, and it means that dozens of engineering students will show off their team solutions to challenges posed to them by corporate sponsors such as Nissan North America, Gresham Smith & Partners, Oreck Corp., the Tennessee Department of Transportation, NASA and CH2M Hill.
Here’s the crux of the matter for the business community. Companies don’t pay for sponsorships but they get to keep the solutions and the intellectual property surrounding them. Sponsors provide the challenge and professional mentoring to participating student for two months.
Senior Design Day, which is in its 10th year, has been gradually growing in recognition and reach, said Cynthia Paschal, associate dean of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering.
“This year we are a little more centrally organized, so hopefully it will have even more impact,” Paschal said.
Projects on display tomorrow at Vanderbilt’s Featheringill Hall from 3-5 p.m. include the following:
• A solution co-sponsored by Oreck and NASA that improved air flow in a ‘next generation’ bagless upright vacuum cleaner. Students used NASA software to design the solution.
• An inventory tracking system for all vehicles produced at Nissan’s Smyrna plant.
• Infrastructure design work for a proposed 233-lot subdivision in Nolensville for Gresham Smith & Partners.
• A design solution at Centennial Park for CH2M Hill that will maximize water usage by using it for irrigation, to help fill the park’s lakes and to enhance other water features at the park.
• The redesign of Tennessee S.R.49 Bridge over the Harpeth River for TDOT.
To view portfolios of all projects for Senior Design Day, go here.
For the third year in a row, Tennessee’s transportation system ranks as one of the best in the nation, according to CNBC 2012 study “America’s Top States for Business.”
The report notes Tennessee ranks fourth-best in the U.S. in the category of transportation and infrastructure and is the only state topping the list that has no transportation debt.
Relatedly, economic development publication Business Facilities in its annual 2012 “State Rankings Report” has named Tennessee No. 1 in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength, also for a third consecutive year.
As to the CNBC ranking, many states carry transportation debt and must allocate a large portion of their funds to interest payments, the study notes.
“This is significant as we are the only top-ranked state without any transportation debt,” Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said in a release. “The next state on the list without debt was ranked 19th. Tennessee is a ‘pay as you go’ state and TDOT will continue to do our part in upholding Gov. Haslam’s vision of running an effective and efficient government.”
The CNBC report scored all 50 states on 40 measures of competitiveness, including the vitality of each state’s transportation system. Tennessee also ranked well in the categories of business friendliness and cost of living. This is the sixth year the news network has performed the study.
Regarding the Business Facilities report, Tennessee earned additional top 10 honors for economic growth potential, job growth, business and education climate, transportation infrastructure, data center hubs and Race to the Top.
“Our strategic focus on the automotive sector has yielded a substantial return for Tennessee and created a magnet for growth, as Tennessee’s many strategic advantages make our state the most compelling location for business expansions and relocations in the U.S.,” Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, said in a release.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced today that federal and state aeronautics grants totaling $8.7 million have been approved for nine Tennessee airports, including Nashville International Airport. Of the total, BNA received $5.25 million. The grants are made available through TDOT’s Aeronautics Division, which administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee's public aviation system. For details, read here.