First-Year Design Showcase: Engineering Solutions for Puffins, Nurses and More

December 5, 2019

First-year design students spent the semester developing solutions for real clients across Duke, North Carolina and beyond

trach tube alert device

Premature newborns often require a tracheostomy to help them breathe on their own, which involves inserting a trach tube and securing it with a trach tie. However, if the tie is too loose the tube will fall out and if it’s too tight the infant has trouble breathing. This design team created a device using mechanical and electrical components that notify medical personnel when they need to adjust the tightness of the tie for secure placement. Client - Duke Nursing

Duke Engineering's foundational First-Year Design program engages every engineering student in hands-on, project-based design challenges that tackle real problems experienced by clients across Duke, North Carolina and beyond.   

Launched in fall 2017, the EGR 101 course encourages teams of students to use the engineering design process to solve interesting and unusual challenges.

Over the course of the project, students gain proficiency with prototyping strategies and tools and learn how to publicly present their work clearly and effectively, both in class and in a public forum, like their recent end-of-semester presentations at the Design Pod and Gross Hall. Following are just a few of the creative solutions that the student teams proposed to meet their clients’ needs.

Athletes with disabilities can race handcycles for miles, but putting the bulky vehicles away afterward can be a challenge. This student team designed a pulley lift system that’s easy to operate with just one hand to store cycles upright against a wall after use. Client: Bridge II Sports


Students around a model venus flytrap


Automatic insulin injector 

Students on scissor lift


Students in container-based makerspace


whalebone stands


Puffin nesting team

 Learn About the First-Year Design Experience