Seniors showcase talent of Ingram School of Engineering

Manuel Garcia | December 20, 2018

Senior Design Day
Senior Design Day 2018 at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, Texas

On December 7, more than 100 Texas State University students from the Ingram School of Engineering presented their Senior Design Day projects at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, TX. The students’ projects, backed by industry partners and prospective companies, were judged based on technical merit and the professionalism of the display booth and the team. Students were given the challenge to solve real-world problems using their engineering skills. 

drifter prototype
Drifter 3.1 prototype

“We wanted to create a water testing device that can be easily replicated by high school students,” said Matt Patridge who is a member of the Manufacturing team for the Drifter 3.1, a four-pound cylinder device, about the size of a hockey puck, made out of 3D material. The goal was to create an economical device that tests water quality, tracks temperature and ultimately floats. Made up of two teams, Manufacturing designed the waterproof housing that will protect and mount the inner electrical components and testing sensors. Nearby, the Electrical Engineering team was demonstrating their task to construct sensor wiring, power generation design and wiring for the electrical systems and all the software coding. Backed by NASA’s Earth, Science and Remote Sensoring (ESRS) division, the unit will, study the effects of localized climate change in the Clear Lake Region in southeast Texas. Using Drifter’s collected data, NASA can restructure satellites and improve the accuracy of models and forecasts. The group uses solar powered energy and a hybrid-like system of power exchange between two batteries, enabling the device to stay powered for long periods with just a flick of a switch. 

To the team’s surprise, they discovered earlier that day they had been invited to participate in the 2019 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin to showcase their device. 

When asked what it’s like to be invited to a bigger stage, senior Walter Bilanski said, “It’s exciting to be on the other side of SXSW. I’ve been an attendee, but now they are coming to us!” 

Drifter 3.1 Design Team
Drifter 3.1 Design Team from left to right: Daniel Ceballos, Matt Partridge, Blake Daniel and Dillon Lippe
Drifter 3.1 NASA Team pose for a group picture
Drifter 3.1 NASA Team from left to right: Ben West, Katherine Bilanski, Walter Bilanski and Brandon Robinson
sensor garage database
Smart City Concept Garage System database

Further down the maze of poster boards was the Smart City Concept Garage System team. The smart home concept is becoming a reality as newer technologies and systems become accessible through mobile devices. The system will be installed in a standard garage that allows for multiple control options for the garage door. Users will be able to have access to data collected about the garage, including tracking trace amounts of carbon monoxide. Once levels of carbon monoxide become dangerous, the garage sensors will activate and automatically lift the garage door to ventilate built up emissions. The system will also be able to record temperature and humidity. 

The Garage System team also accepted the invitation to showcase their project at the SXSW Festival. 

“We are happy to represent Texas State, and carry the school into the smart city concept,” said Wesley Nicol, one of the developers of the smart garage system. 

Dell Inc. has recently reached out to the team in regards to data. Dell Inc. wants the data sample from the garage system to utilize the same functions for its machine learning. The team’s goal is to have the system be fully integrated within the smart home and several services streamlined on the device. 

smart garage team pose for a group photo
Smart Garage Team from left to right: Case Winter, Muhammad Ahmed, Wesley Nicol and Rhylie Hoyt
smart garage components
Smart City Concept Garage System components

“It has been great to watch these teams grow over the last two years. Bobcat Innovators continue to exceed expectations,” says Maritza Collazo, graduate assistant of strategic corporate partnerships at Texas State. 

“These students are meeting with local and national companies, and are providing real-world solutions that will help them as graduates to be ready for the workforce on day one,” said Ron Epperson, Director of Industry Strategic Partnerships.

“You never forget your senior project,” said Epperson, who reflected on his senior project using ethanol plants as a source of biofuel.  

For more information about the Ingram School of Engineering, go to

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922