November 2, 2010

One of the last assignments engineering students face before graduating is the senior design project. Through the generous donations of dedicated alumni, seniors in the LSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) will have new workstations to help complete their two-course senior design experience involving the actual design, prototyping and building of an engineered device.

All engineering students benefit from a true design and prototyping (hands-on) experience. BAE students have projects that cover a breadth of potential applications: from bio-medically-oriented micro devices; to biomechanical systems related to prosthetics; to sensors used for animal, plant, and environmental applications; to agriculturally-oriented systems for enhancing water, energy, and many other system requirements.

Donated by friends, family and classes of 1992-2006, the BAE mobile workstation can be moved to any appropriate laboratory or shop area, where other instrumentation and equipment is used to help fabricate the particular project. This workstation will provide a critical platform with appropriate dedicated tools to help move the project forward in a reasonable and practical timeframe.

“This first “donated” Senior Design Workstation moves the Biological Engineering program closer to its goal of creating a distributed funding and facilities portfolio to support our educational objectives,” stated Dan Thomas, PhD, PE, professor and head of BAE. “As state funding changes, reliance on alumni and friends becomes even more important. Every student who participated in a Senior Design Project remembers some of the difficulties associated with getting the right tools, at the right time, to complete their prototype design within the time constraints for the Senior Design Class.”

At a cost of approximately $4,000 per workstation, the goal is to secure sufficient funding to build five to seven more workstations. All workstations may have some slightly different tools and specialized instrumentation components, from micro-fabrication to soldering and electronic data-acquisition systems. Features include on casters, easy access and mobility for any appropriate laboratory area, under cabinet lighting, high security locks, primary tools and testing instruments most often utilized in senior projects, and a lap top computer with wireless internet capability.

“I am greatly pleased that our younger alumni, less than 20 years out of school, from the Biological Engineering program stepped up to provide the first donated Senior Design Workstation,” said Thomas.

In June 2006, engineering alumni Billy (BS, Biological Engineering, 1999) and Louise (BS, Biological Engineering, 1998) Lawson initiated the “Senior Design Workstation Fund.” All donations were dedicated to help purchase engineering workstations for BAE students to use while concluding their senior design mission.  W. Todd Monroe, PhD, PE, associate professor of BAE, remarked to the Lawsons, “Your class is a model for the others as a way to forge and maintain BAE friendships.” Billy Lawson responded to the gift stating, “Thanks to everyone!!!!....with all of us pitching in together, we really can make a difference for the students!” 

The two-course senior design experience involves the actual design followed by prototyping and building the device or project. Thomas explains, “This unit will provide a working platform and the primary tools necessary for a student design team to have an effective and efficient design and build learning experience. The movable workstation also allows students to do their projects in the most appropriate location, where more intensive and selective instrumentation/equipment are available.”


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 Article by Crystal Jackson, Public Relations Graduate Assistant, 225-578-5706,




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