Research & Innovation

Seven Wonders: 7* Reasons You Need to Visit Stevens’ 2024 Innovation Expo

Annual showcase will feature jaw-dropping student ingenuity

It’s that time of year again. You know it, you love it. Expo ’24 is almost here.

On April 26, Stevens Institute of Technology will present its annual Innovation Expo on campus, with live music, lectures (including the Scholl Lecture for Visiting Entrepreneurs, featuring Giuseppe Incitti ’04 M.Eng. ’04, CEO of Sitetracker, Inc.), dueling robots (in the Gallois Autonomous Robot Competition), the $10,000-top-prize Ansary Entrepreneurship pitch competition and wall-to-wall Stevens student brainpower.

Hundreds of senior design teams and individual students will present the fruits of their year-long capstone design work to the public at venues stretched across Stevens’ hilltop campus.

Show up and you’ll gain instant insider access to way-cool projects ranging from the proposed restoration of Hoboken’s historic train station to drones that see, green aviation fuels, wounds that monitor themselves (you read that right), VR that helps track your mental capacity — even a LEGO-sorter (where was this thing when we were kids?).

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Check out these seven — plus one bonus — wondrous Expo '24 highlights that are sure to blow your mind.

1. Freeze Frame

light pointsLED lights and ultrasound: Not exactly a match made in heaven? Think again. The senior team of biomedical engineering majors David Bendis, Matthew Feroz, Tyler Jacklitsch and Cesar Noguera — working with Weill Cornell Medical College — propose a system called NomaSound that combines traditional ultrasound techniques with pulses of LED light.

That combo, they theorize, could add important nuance and depth to ultrasound images of skin as doctors search for potentially dangerous skin cancers. Call it a photoacoustic effect in reverse. Professor Peter Popolo advises.

2. Airplanes in the Night Sky Are Like Shootin' Stars

drawing of seaplane fighting fire

We all remember the stinging orange haze that invaded New York and New Jersey last summer as Canadian wildfires burned long and strong. The U.S. sent an aerial armada (fine, squadron) of seaplanes in support, but it still took weeks — and much needed rain — to get all that under control.

Seaplane technology hasn’t evolved much in the past half-decade, but a team of Stevens students are on it. Team SEZ envisions and has designed a smarter, slimmer plane that can theoretically take off and land in tighter clearings, rivers and ponds, enabling much more precise firefighting. If the concept works, the plane will also scoop water.

Professor Raju Datla advises the team of Elijah Durantine, Stephanie Searing and Zachary Weiserth, who are building a four-foot scale model in high-density foam for the Expo.

3. Juke Box Hero

Student-designed guitar gameOK, music lovers — how about a new way to play music that doesn't involve your eyes at all: A guitar you play not only by sight, but through touch. This guitar-shaped controller, pictured here, lets you noodle to your heart’s content as music and rhythms blare. But unlike the standard version of the Game We Can’t Mention, this one gives haptic feedback — gently vibrating to cue the correct note as the music plays. So, if you somehow forget the key of "Stairway to Heaven" this controller has your back.

The interdisciplinary team, known as Haptic Hero, is advised by longtime Stevens mechanical engineering professor Frank Fisher. Members Sebastian Almonte, Emanuel Diaz, Richard He, Paul Leible, Hasumi Tanemori and Kimberly Tsang interviewed visually impaired students, then used those students’ insights to help guide the design.

4. Eye of the Tightener

Student-designed belt with sensors for the visually challengedBatman’s utility belt is way cool, but this one’s even cooler: a “Personal Guide Belt,” shown here, that senses objects ahead and around the wearer, then alerts him or her to step lively. The idea is that visually challenged users could wear it walking around cities or in their homes, safely crossing sidewalks, corners and hallways while being warned (again with gentle vibrational buzzes) when things get in the way — parked cars, uneven pavement, low-hanging branches. You get the picture.

Professor Md Abu Sayeed advises the interdisciplinary team of Matthew Bairstow, Philip Mascaro, Aidan Rudd, Jeffrey Tharakan and Jett Tinik, which visited the St Joseph's School for the Blind in Jersey City to test a prototype and get feedback.

5. Smooth Operator

wormOne of the trickiest parts of delicate internal surgeries and procedures is the ever-present risk of perforation — basically, accidentally cutting something you’re not supposed to. Undergraduate team ESBR ("earthworm soft body robot") thinks they have a better way.

Their tiny, nanosized robot concept would inch carefully along inside a patient as it heads to, say, a dangerous blood clot — controlled by a trained surgeon. The robot’s secret? Worm-like, articulated segments enable the ‘bot to make extremely tight turns.

An interdisciplinary team of mechanical engineering and systems students — Jacob Bower, Isara Cholaseuk, Samuel Kaz and Joel Martinovsky, advised by professor Yong Shi — has designed a scale model to demonstrate the idea.

6. In the Air Tonight

Mountains and clouds

You can’t get blood from a stone. But you can get water from thin air. Don’t believe us? Check out team DewView, which has proposed and designed a tower of special meshes, nettings, desiccant materials and other doodads that literally draws moisture out of the sky (via the dew, mist, fog and other humidity in it).

Why is this such a big deal? Imagine you’re out to sea and dying for a drink. Or you’re living in a developing nation where the drinking water isn’t guaranteed to be sanitary. The team estimates one of these towers, built to full size, could collect nearly 500 gallons of ambient liquid goodness a day. From thin (wet) air.

The amazing concept comes courtesy of the interdisciplinary Stevens team of undergrads Edward McQuicken, Hrushikesha Mewada, Madison Sappia and Brian Smith, advised by professor Chang-Hwan Choi.

7. Big Wheel, Keep on Turning

ferrish wheelStreams of water (and, um, other liquids) move through our home, industrial and municipal pipes nearly continuously. The mechanics are pretty basic: Pipe moves water onward. New water arrives and moves through pipe. Rinse and repeat.

But what if you could capture the energy of all that constant motion and harvest it for good? Indeed, Team PipeDream has this very dream. They imagine 3D-printed little waterwheels installed inside millions of our pipes, unobtrusively turning tiny turbines, producing and storing tiny bits of mini-hydropower that could add up to enough energy to, say, run an appliance. Maybe even a house. Maybe even a city.

The team is composed of Faith Avila, Kai Jiang, Kevin Mamo, Rocco Gannon and Kelly Yuan, also advised by professor Choi.

Bonus: A Land Down Under

koala bear on a tree

We just couldn’t leave this one out. The delightfully named downtown-Hoboken bakery Boomerang Bites came to Stevens for help in expanding its young business. What a great decision!

The team of School of Business seniors Jeffrey Eng, Eshita Jain, Himaya Jeyakumar, Mihika Rachamallu and Sabrina Vuong — ably advised by professor Theresa Howard — have lent their expertise, analysis and advice to the bakery all academic year long, consulting on business planning, marketing and other fun stuff you need to know to thrive and survive in Hoboken’s ultra-competitive eats environment.

Oh, and that name? Yup, the bakery’s owner is a real Aussie. We love inter-hemispheric collaboration.