Engineering + Computing Showcase Lets Students Pitch Passion Projects
Spring showcase offers a new way for students to network with industry professionals
Creativity is essential to engineering, and it will be on full display at the Spring Engineering + Computing Showcase. In recent years, students in the showcase have presented projects including hydrogen-powered drones, a new method for visualization of heart tissue, and even a “pandamoji” emoticon generator—ideas they’ve developed over a course of independent study, through participation in a club, or during an internship in a faculty member’s lab. Engineering and computer science students at every level, from undergraduate to doctoral, are welcome to pitch their ideas to the industry professionals in attendance, who represent companies including IBM, Microsoft, NetApp, SAP, NVIDIA, Stryker and Google.
“Employers want to see a spark and energy in students when they talk about their projects,” said Erin Carlini, the assistant director of career services for Duke Engineering master’s programs. “What excited them about the project? What challenges did they face in the project and what did they learn? If they are continuing with the project, how are they making changes based on the past? Additionally, many employers are looking at how the student communicates about their project, as a lot of flexibility is required when you have an audience that is both technical and non-technical.”
No matter how specialized a student’s area of study, said Carlini, there is sure to be an employer interested in both the topic and the initiative that students take to approach it and develop solutions or improvements—or even an expert who can help them take their idea to the next level.
The 2017 showcase, for example, gave ECE PhD student Hassan Albalawi an opportunity to connect with experienced advisors as he launched his startup company, WakeCap Technologies. Albalawi designed and developed his wearable technology to improve safety and productivity on construction sites, and WakeCap devices are now being piloted in partnership with several large construction firms in Dubai. Last year WakeCap announced the close of the company’s first official funding seed round, which generated investments of $1.6 million.
“Our hope for this year’s showcase is that more students, from all levels, will present a poster, project or prototype,” said Carlini. “We have expanded our group of industry representatives and are looking for students who want to grow their presentation skills while initiating professional relationships at this event.”