15:15 PM

Showcasing Burgeoning Innovation

21st Annual Pitt First-Year Engineering Conference Welcomed Students In-Person for the First Time Since 2019

On Saturday, April 9, 540 first-year students at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering got a chance to showcase their work at the 21st Annual First-Year Engineering Conference. 

Held in Benedum Hall, students from all six engineering departments showcased their conference papers and projects on wide-ranging topics that they explored in the spring semester. 

“This event is an opportunity for our first-year engineering students to showcase the work they have been conducting throughout the semester,” said Irene Mena, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and director of the First-Year Engineering Program. “This was our first in-person conference since 2019, and I enjoyed interacting with students in person, as well as meeting some of their family members.”

Blake Dubé (BSChE ‘17) presented the keynote address discussing Aeronics Inc., the startup that grew out of an undergraduate research project at Pitt. Dubé is founder and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based company, which develops portable oxygen systems for both human and veterinary use.

Students in the course ENGR 0012, Intro to Engineering Computing, presented research papers, while students in ENGR 0716, The Art of Making, presented design project prototypes. 

Awards were presented for the best paper in each department:

Genetic Engineering Enabled Xenotransplantation 
- Rehan Manjila, Austin Bustos, Zackery Layton

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
Low-Pressure Hydrothermal Processing: Turning Polyolefin Wastes Into Clean Fuels 
- Caroline Howard, Jack Kaye, and Leanni Barreiros

Civil & Environmental Engineering
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Feasibility Among Pacific Islands 
- Timothy Horrell, Francesco Nota, and Christopher Moran

Electrical and Computer Engineering 
Electrolysis of Hydrogen for Renewable Energy Storage 
- Nicholas Kravits, Sofia Milone, and Sophia Edwards 

Industrial Engineering
Spherical Moss Tank for Liquified Natural Gas: The Benefits and Drawbacks of its Structural Design, Environmental Impacts, and Methods of Transportation Through Analysis of the Equatorial Guinea Lng Project and Related Companies
- Madelynn Bennett, Erica Beigi, and Andrew Fox

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Moving “Beyond Burgers:” How Bioprinting Guiltless Steak Will Lead To A More Sustainable Future 
- Emma Núñez Colón, Owen Spencer, and Anagha Venkatesh

“My hope is that participation in this conference will help prepare students for their participation in future professional conferences, whether they are participating as presenters or attendees,” said Mena. “I also hope that the work they presented and the speakers they listened to helped inform and confirm their career choices.”