Dwyer sponsored a Valparaiso University engineering design project from the 2012-13 school year. This project, which was to redesign one of Dwyer's capacitive pressure sensors, was recently awarded a patent.
Each student in the College of Engineering is asked to participate in a senior design project, which allows them to gain real-world experience in the engineering industry. Projects last two semesters, and teams work to "conceptualize, design, build, test, and assess a project" ("Senior Designs," n.d.) from the ground-up. This specific project was intended to give students a chance to improve a product already on the market. "Its primary objective was to replace the use of welding in the assembly process with heat-activated adhesives, and to eliminate stray capacitance in the system measurements. The sensor housing is a stamped design to avoid expensive machining steps" (Rob Earnshaw, 2015). The heat-activated adhesives and stamped design improve manufacturing efficiency, while eliminating stray capacitance raises product accuracy.
The patent protects the design and allows Dwyer to sell the completed product. But more importantly, for the students involved, having a patented design boosts confidence and strengthens engineering portfolios. Shahin Nudehi, project advisor, said that: "From the students' perspective, getting a patent from their senior design validates the hard work that they put in this project. Additionally, having a patent on their resume would help them to find better job opportunities and be more competitive" (Rob Earnshaw, 2015). The patent is proof of the students' dedication and desire to learn. With their efforts, it can be the spark of a strong engineering future for the next generation.
**Earnshaw, R. (2015, December 17). Valpo University design project receives patent. NWI Times. Retrieved December 18, 2015, from http://www.nwitimes.com/
**Senior Designs. Valparaiso University. Retrieved December 18, 2015, from http://www.valpo.edu/college-of-engineering/experiential-learning/senior-designs/