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.
R. Brad Martin, the newly appointed University of Memphis interim president, has Nashville connections (don't they all nowadays?), having earned an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University and having served as a board director with Gaylord Entertaiment Inc.
In fact, the 60-year-old Martin, one of the most influential Tennessee-based business people, has made a career of sorts sitting on boards (read more here). Interestingly, the businessman (check his site here) and former state House member, does not hold a doctoral degree — rare for the leader of a Tennessee Board of Regents university but not unacceptable given his interim status.
Martin, a UofM grad who replaces the retiring Shirley Raines, will temporarily oversee a university known for its Fogelman College of Business and Economics, FedEx Institute of Technology and nationally competitive men's basketball program.
Four Vanderbilt University students have been named among the winners of the Social Venture Challenge hosted recently by The Resolution Project nonprofit and the Clinton Global Initiative University. The contest drew more than 300 social entrepreneurship ideas from around the world. The Sustainabears concept by Michael O'Connor, Jim Jin, Shilpa Mokshagundam and Maryli Cheng calls for polystyrene foam to be repurposed as teddy bear packaging.
The Resolution Project has already awarded 63 Resolution Fellowships to young social entrepreneurs with ventures across the globe aimed at tackling some of today’s toughest challenges. Today’s SVC winners will join this Fellowship program, which provides students with seed funding to launch their social ventures, hands-on mentorship and robust support from a team of more than 200 Resolution volunteers, and access to Resolution’s global network of young social entrepreneurs.
Vanderbilt University has unveiled its annual faculty-staff campaign in an effort to raise at least $1.25 million with at least 1,500 university faculty and staff participants. Read more here at vanderbilt.edu.
The wealthiest Americans are urgently concerned with reducing the national deficit and look favorably on cutting social programs such as Social Security to do so, according to a new study co-authored by Vanderbilt University professor Larry Bartels.
Bartels (pictured) and two researchers from Northwestern University identified 83 Chicago-area respondents willing to be surveyed and who had an average wealth of $14 million, putting them in the top 1 percent of wealth-holders.
Here are some of the survey’s findings:
• The respondents were less willing to pay taxes in order to provide health coverage for U.S. citizens, and they are much less supportive of tax-financed national health insurance.
• They favor lower estate tax rates, are less eager to increase income taxes on high-income people and oppose government action to redistribute income or wealth.
• About 99 percent of those surveyed voted in 2008, and 84 percent said they paid attention to politics most of the time. Two-thirds said they contributed to political campaigns, and they averaged $4,633 to candidates or organizations in the previous year.
• Twenty-one percent of wealthy respondents in the study solicited or “bundled” other peoples’ political contributions, something rarely if ever done by ordinary citizens.
“Most people suspect that the wealthy play a big role in American politics,” Bartels said in a statement to Vanderbilt News Service. “Remarkably, though, we have never had any systematic evidence about their political preferences and behavior. This project begins to fill that gap.”
Bartels and his academic colleagues are seeking funding for a larger national study of the political views of the wealthy.
For more information about the research, go here.
The top floor of Vanderbilt University's Commons Center has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This marks the 13th LEED-certified project on the VU campus.