Annual SEAS Competition & BBQ Brings Students and Alumni Together

The annual Pelton Senior Design Competition
The annual Pelton Senior Design Competition

On May 15, the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) held its 4th annual Pelton Senior Design Competition and Senior-Alumni BBQ.

A record 190 guests saw computer science major Michelle Cano take home top honors with her project, Text for All Ages: Mobile Adult Literacy.

Cano designed a software application for mobile phones that enhances adult literacy skills by providing reading exercises for displayed articles. The ease of such a mobile app could potentially have a widespread positive effect on the estimated 90 million adults in the U.S. who have insufficient literacy skills.

First place winner Michelle Cano
First place winner Michelle Cano

Second place honors went to the Solar Decathlon House team, which will compete this fall against 20 other universities worldwide in the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial competition to design a solar-powered house.

Both the first and second place team projects were also deemed patentable and green.

A complete list of participants and a video that includes all five student team presentations is available here.

The Pelton Award for Outstanding Senior Project was established four years ago by a former faculty member, Dr. Joseph Pelton, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship among SEAS seniors.

The competition is held the Wednesday before commencement weekend to celebrate the students’ innovations, as well as to have families be able to share in on the excitement. Five student teams, each representing the top entry from one of the five SEAS departments, vie for the honors. Prize money is awarded for first through third place, with extra money awarded to projects deemed patentable and/or green.

Attendees enjoy the barbecue

The competition began in the early afternoon when each team was interviewed privately by 11 judges, five of whom are alumni, five of whom are faculty, and one who is a friend of Joe Pelton’s.

Later, the public was permitted to view the design proposals and learn about them directly during the student presentations.  The evening culminated with a traditional southern  BBQ where students, staff, faculty, parents and alumni were able to mingle and enjoy each other’s company.

The event provided a showcase for the seniors’ work and celebrated their successes as they prepared to graduate in a few days.  For alumni there, the event enabled them to welcome the SEAS Class of 2013 into the GW alumni community.



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