More than 300 University of Arizona students showed off engineering technologies - ranging from a new missile sensor system to an automated, fast-cooling beer dispenser - Tuesday at the UA's Engineering Design Day.

The 11th annual event at the Tucson Marriott University Park featured 60 student teams, mentored by UA faculty members and sponsored by faculty and technology companies.

Returning project sponsors included tech powerhouses Raytheon, Texas Instruments, BAE Systems and Honeywell.

New sponsors this year included Northrop Grumman, which sponsored a project to create a configurable aircraft payload pod; General Electric, which backed development of a quieter electrical power transformer design; and Continental Automotive Systems, which sponsored a project to redesign workstations.

"It's a great first step to working with the college," Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering, said of the industry sponsors.

"You get a nice prototype. You get a chance to see what our students can do. You get a chance to see what our faculty can do - it's a great first relationship, and we use this as a springboard to bigger and better things," Goldberg said.

Some projects seemed like they're just for fun - like the automated beer dispenser, and a remote-controlled robotic fish.

But each project - no matter how whimsical it seemed at first - had a distinct business purpose, involving state-of-the-art technologies to provide a specific solution or new capability, including specific technologies sought by industrial sponsors.

For example, local school kids attending Design Day had giggly fun donning ponchos and testing out a "portable weather simulation chamber," sponsored by Gore-Tex waterproof material maker W. L. Gore & Associates to use for trade shows, conferences and recruiting.

The beer-dispenser project was sponsored by Texas Instruments (along with four other projects) to showcase two of its latest products - a temperature sensor and a data converter. The system uses thermoelectric cooling chips to cool water that in turn cools the beer in line, and a flow meter dispenses a precise amount.

The robotic fish features ultra-fine sensor controls and high-definition video. It was sponsored by MediaMation Inc., which specializes in interactive exhibits and motion-effect theater seating, to allow people to experience underwater habitat with minimal environmental impact.

Here are some of the other Design Day projects (for a complete list of projects, sponsors and mentors, go to

• Raytheon Missile Systems sponsored a project to create a compact, low-cost, angular-rate (spin) sensor for an existing but undisclosed weapon system, and one to develop software to aid aerial mapping and ground navigation.

• B/E Aerospace, a maker of custom aircraft interiors, sponsored two projects: synchronized aircraft interior sliding doors and a "super first-class chilled mini-bar."

• Oro Valley-based Ventana Medical Systems sponsored three projects: a system to rapidly identify patient tissue slides, an automated system to measure puddles of liquid on slides and a system to automatically glue coverslips on microscope slides.

• Several new unmanned aircraft designs, including a "micro air vehicle" headed to a national competition; an unmanned aircraft that extracts energy from environmental forces such as wind and sunlight; and a drone aircraft with a "joined wing" structure - which combines forward wings with rear horizontal stabilizers in a continuous loop to form a rigid, lightweight aircraft.

Design Day awards

Find a list of Design Day award winners in Thursday's Star.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at or 573-4181.