“It is a professional venue for students to present original works and ideas.”

Weston Scott

judge relations manager, sophomore studying mechanical engineering

Students from varying backgrounds and majors will come together to present their original works at the Research and Creative Works Conference on July 12.

The conference is from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the BYU-Idaho Center, as well as various classrooms in the John Taylor Building. The live performance portion will begin at 6 p.m., according to the conference website.

Courtesy photos, Christy Hoskins

“It’s kind of like a science fair but for every major and anyone who wants can present what they are working on,” said Christy Hoskins, the public relations representative for the conference and a junior studying communication.

Hoskins said there are roughly 250 presentations this semester, coming from numerous areas of study, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, nursing, communication, psychology, education, English, history, political science and dance.

The conference is a student-run event where students from every major can present a project or performance in a professional environment and be judged. The mission of the conference is to “foster an environment for the individual to develop and share their creative and academic achievements for their personal progression and the benefit of others,” according to the website.

“It is a professional venue for students to present original works and ideas,” said Weston Scott, the judge relations manager and a sophomore studying mechanical engineering.

Scott said the professional conference provides motivation for the students to work toward at the end of the semester when they know they will be presenting.

“And it looks great on a resume,” Scott said.

Hoskins said the conference is a rewarding experience for many students to show off projects they have been working hard on throughout the semester.

“It’s just so rewarding in general,” Hoskins said. “The students work so hard on something for so long, and everybody can come by and see it, and they can talk to people about it and just gain experience.”

Courtesy photos, Christy Hoskins

Hoskins said the live session includes dance, poetry and theatre in the Oscar A. Kirkham Auditorium. Each participant has 15 minutes to present and five minutes to answer questions from the judges.

“They talk about the ideas they have learned in just a different way,” Hoskins said. “In the poster session, they do it in a more visual way, in the oral session there are visuals. They can use a PowerPoint, whatever, but it’s more of them just speaking and giving them more presentation.”

The students who present in the live session prepare all semester just as the students who work on research or design projects do.

“This is my capstone project,” said Derek Viecco, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies. “I have to fuse my two fields of study, so I have dance and biology, and so I am explaining how the immune system works through movement.”

Viecco said the dance will occur while his recorded voice plays from the speakers.

“I decided to record my voice and I computerized it so that way it sounds robotic,” Viecco said.

Tim Helferstay, a senior studying mechanical engineering, and his group of four have created a bottle-cooling mechanism project throughout the semester.

“What they wanted us to do is find an easy way that they can add something to their production line, that doesn’t take much time, that will cool the bottles for them within about two minutes and make it so they can be labeled,” Helferstay said.

Courtesy photos, Christy Hoskins

Helferstay said the client initially was thinking the students would use fans as a method to cool down the bottles but after doing testing as a group they found it would still take hours to complete. Therefore, they needed a different feasible option.

Helferstay said the company reached out to BYU-Idaho to have them produce it.

“We were looking at it and found that if you have chilled gushing water over the top of it at about 60 degrees then it cools down in just over two minutes so it is a lot faster than blowing air,” Helferstay said.

Helferstay said their team has been debating about whether or not to plug in their project at the conference and have it working or not.

According to the website, the conference serves a myriad of purposes, including expanding knowledge of particular academic field; defining interests academically, personally and career-wise; establishing faculty-student connections; gaining resume-building experience, leadership, communication, creative and critical thinking skills; and time management.

“We are very big on project learning just generally in our department,” said Richard Grimmett, the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department chair. “Almost all of our classes do project-based learning, but this just gives us an opportunity to kind of have that overall goal of a project that they can present, so they get to choose the project themselves and kind of decide what it looks like.”

Grimmett said he teaches an embedded systems class about automation and robotics.

“We do all kinds of projects,” Grimmett said.

Grimmett said one of the best ways to look at projects from previous semesters is to look up BYUIEECE on YouTube. Projects range from a robot playing checkers to topographical sand and even a mind-controlled wheelchair.

Courtesy photos, Christy Hoskins

Grimmett said the conference is judged by individuals within the industries of the projects. Some judges come from the Idaho National Laboratory.

“What we will have them do is take their project and put it on the back of their resume when they go down to the BYU Career Fair and a number of those have actually gotten student’s jobs,” Grimmett said.

Grimmett said a student received a job at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after they recreated wheels on an iRobot for it to move in all directions.

“We emphasize to the students the importance of the project as a resume item,” said Alan Dutson, the Mechanical Engineering Department chair. “It is good for the students to be able to present and talk about their project.”

Dutson said his students have projects with posters, and they talk to people about what they have been working on as they walk by.

Dutson said employers like people who can communicate effectively and that the practice of being able to present to other people is valuable.

Dutson teaches a senior capstone design class where they do team projects and present them in the R&CW conference.

“It’s a very different thing when you are designing a product if you are just doing it by yourself,” Dutson said.

Dutson said part of the projects is working together trying to come to some kind of a consensus.

“Usually the end result is much better than an individual could come up with, so the potential is much better, but it’s harder because you have to coordinate with other students,” Dutson said.

Dutson said several judges come from the Idaho Falls chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.