As the semester winds down, students across West Virginia University’s campus are preparing for their final projects. The same is true for the freshmen in Engineering 101.

Engineering 101 is the introductory course for students in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Their final projects project will be presented at the Engineering 101 Mini Conference on Wednesday (April 23) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., in the atrium of the Engineering Science Building. The conference is free and open to the public.

The course gives students a solid engineering foundation from which they will build as they begin their careers as engineers. Todd Hamrick, teaching assistant professor and academic adviser for the college’s Freshman Engineering program, has worked to increase the level of technical and engineering analysis required from the students during his three years with the program.

“We want to give them a realistic look at what engineering is all about; this is their first real exposure to what it’s like to work as an engineer,” said Hamrick.

In total, six projects were assigned to the students ranging from building a model “Angry Birds” game to designs for a handicap-accessible park.

“We try to pick projects that we think would be fun and appeal to the students, but that also have a component that lends itself to analysis,” Hamrick explained.

Mark Ziegler, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student from Richmond, Va., and his team are designing a wheel chair-accessible pond with amenities.

Ziegler and his teammates had to researched designs and regulations for a lot of the aspects of their pond. Together, they have had to overcome challenges everyday engineers encounter in their careers.

“The major challenges were figuring out the general volume and area of the oddly shaped pond and then figuring out the different forces that will be acting on our pier, not just from the water and weather, but from the people, too,” Ziegler said.

Anthony Daniel, an electrical engineering student from Hico, W.Va., is building machine that will sort chocolate M&M’s from peanut M&M’s. His team was able to build the right design in just one try because of the scientific and empirical research they did on their design.

“The research we did definitely made it easier because it was accurate and effective,” he said.

The projects hone the technical analysis, teamwork and communication skills of the students as they embark on their paths as engineers.

Daniel believes this course helps prepare students “for the real world of engineering” because it forces students to “work efficiently with total strangers.”

“We want to give the students a pretty good look at what it’s like to be an engineer, as much as we can in an academic setting,” Hamrick said. “I think these projects do a good job of that.”