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Design Day’s Palme d’Or—Winners of the Raytheon Award for Best Overall Design display the giant check they received with the award, for designing a drone to pollinate date palms.

A Date to Remember

A drone for pollinating date palms takes top prize at Engineering Design Day 2017.


ART IMITATED LIFE at the University of Arizona’s 15th annual Engineering Design Day on May 1 as more than 500 seniors presented their corporate- and UA-sponsored team projects hatched over nine months. A drone designed to do what bees do best – pollinate – took top prize. In the winning team’s video demonstration the semiautonomous aerial vehicle even sounded like a swarm of bees as it flew over Medjool date palm trees at a nursery in Yuma, Arizona. “Existing drones used to propagate the trees drop pollen from nylon stockings, which is not very efficient,” said systems engineering student Victor Cortez. “Our drone has an automated 45-gram pollen canister that drops a precise payload of pollen over each tree




and can pollinate 12 trees in one flight.” The team is one of several fine-tuning its prototypes for commercialization.

for converting wastewater to drinking water, and a water-efficient technique for manufacturing the arthritis drug Enbrel.

Good Drones, Bad Drones

“Chemical engineering is the art of changing what’s made in the lab to produce a product that’s going to help hundreds of thousands of people,” said senior Erica Clevenger.

Another team won big for Raytheonsponsored technology to take down drones. Commercial drones have video-recording capabilities that can threaten personal privacy, noted systems engineering senior Shivani Patel. Her team’s project would let everyday consumers disable commercial drones autonomously, safely and legally.

Every Drop Counts Students in chemical and environmental engineering made a strong showing with a system to recycle dairy wastewater at Arizona-based Shamrock Foods, an invention

New Dimension—A senior demonstrates a 3-D printer, which has become an essential tool for building design project prototypes.

Arizona Engineer | Spring 2017  
Arizona Engineer | Spring 2017