Eight freshmen engineering students from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering won third place in the Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering (AMIE) Design Challenge. The event was hosted at the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) conference held in February, 2019 in Washington, D.C. A total of 11 teams from various Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) participated in the event.
Team members Clarke Miley, Kamryn Woods, Nicholas Walker, Darrian Gardner, Akelah Pugh, Aleem Muhammad, Tionci Greene and Zipporah Harlan represented the college.
“We are all freshmen, so we had no idea what to expect at the event,” said Zipporah Harlan, a mechanical engineering student. “It was great to see all the great ideas everyone had. It was a competition but everyone really respected each other and helped each other out.”
With advice from their faculty advisor professor Charmane Caldwell, the team selected healthcare as their challenge. Each group was given provided two industry technical advisors who communicated with them remotely to design the project. They had only a month to prepare for the challenge.
All of the members of the FAMU-FSU Engineering team were part of the college’s Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) or the FAMU Engineering Living Learning Community (LLC) program, or both. Both programs help pre-engineering students prepare for their first year of college by learning skills to help them become successful in the engineering curriculum.
“Being a part of LLC definitely helped us for this challenge. We worked well as a team and we already knew everyone’s strength,” Akelah Pugh, a computer engineering student, said.
To determine the direction of the project, the students first targeted healthcare issues that bothered people the most. The team interviewed people in a focus group and found most had complaints about wait times in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Armed with this knowledge, the team looked at this problem from an engineering standpoint and developed an idea for a cryptic-code device that would hold a users’ medical history. When scanned, the device could quickly provide information needed to speed up the check-in process.
“We really wanted to improve patient experience when going to a medical facility,” Darrian Gardner, a biomedical engineering student, said. “We wanted a way to make the process more efficient.”
Each year BEYA holds a conference that brings professionals and students together for three days to share their experiences and gain helpful career information. While networking, students attend seminars and workshops that help facilitate STEM career paths.
AMIE is the premier organization that develops industry, government and university partnerships to achieve diversity in the engineering workforce. The judges said the FAMU-FSU Engineering team was particularly creative and was the only all-freshmen team in the competition, a major win in itself among highly competitive engineering students.