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The University Star


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Engineering students get hands-on experience at NuPlasma


Photo courtesy of Kyle Hughes

A team of engineering students is working with NuPlasma, a local blood bank, for their senior design course, providing them with valuable real-world applications of their studies.
The team was tasked with creating a 3D model representative of NuPlasma’s freezers, containing blood and plasma donations, in the event of a power outage. The rise in sample temperatures can deem them unusable, prompting inquiry into how these units warm when shut off unexpectedly.
The senior design capstone course provides students an opportunity to participate in a team-based design of a system or component related to their field of study. This course is typically fleshed out with in-class projects, but this team has been given the chance to work outside of the university walls with NuPlasma.
Byoung Hee You, associate professor of engineering and technology, instructs the senior design course and describes the goals of the class as helping students define their own approach to problems.
“This course gives an opportunity for our students to simulate or practice real work in their field,” You said. “Through this project, we want our students to establish their approach.”
After a power outage several months ago, freezers at NuPlasma failed, increasing in temperature quickly. NuPlasma sought the help of students who could put into perspective what could be done.
Kyle Hughes, center director for the San Marcos NuPlasma location, reached out to Texas State for help.
“It’s been a very good experience,” Hughes said. “(The students) are very self-sufficient. I leave them in the lab and they work on all the empty freezers. It’s been really seamless and we’re happy with them.”
Hughes said the students have been attentive in their work and have functioned with little guidance during weekly visits to the facility.
“I do think it is important for (students) to step into a professional environment,” Hughes said. “Anytime you get professional experience outside of the classroom is valuable.”
Nathen Hale, electrical engineering technology senior, is a member of the team working with NuPlasma. He said working on an outside project has been valuable to him in his academic career.
“(The project) definitely helps to build up ways to act professionally and how to go about a project and build reports and go through operations, like testing how to gather data and communicate with people also trying to lead a project,” Hale said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to build up a professional persona for yourself.”
Joseph Miller serves as the graduate instructional assistant for You and works with the senior design group class. He completed the course fall 2018 for his undergraduate degree.
“(The capstone course) is definitely worth multiple lecture-based courses,” Miller said. “It is extremely valuable to pull from everything you’ve learned. Maybe you’ll pull from thermos-fluids or take some from machine elements or tool design. It all comes together and is a culmination of years of lecture-based courses.”
Hughes said he is grateful for the help from Texas State and the senior design course team in helping the San Marcos community.
“Our biggest aspect is giving back to our community as much as possible,” Hughes said. “We love working with our college students and giving back to them in any way that we can.”
Information about NuPlasma and the application process to donate plasma can be found on its website.

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