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Building a better waffle maker: Oregon State engineer students tackle real projects

Mickey Schaefer and Sierra Rezell tackled a tasty problem: the owner of Off the Waffle in Eugene tasked them with making a better waffle iron. "He wanted to make it lighter and less expensive to manufacture while maintaining the even heat distribution," Schaefer said.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Hundreds of Oregon State University engineering students showed off their senior projects at Friday's Engineering Expo.

All of their designs have practical, real-world uses.

Electrical and computer engineering student Brian Gardner said his project started with a beekeeper who needs to know when his bees are in distress.

"That way the beekeeper could find out that ok, I should open up my hive and treat my bees because otherwise I'm probably going to lose the whole hive," Gardner said.

So Gardner and his team came up with a way to measure that distress in sound.

"If there's bees around then they'll vibrate near the accelerometer. That vibration comes to the system here," Gardner said.

And through Bluetooth, beekeepers can listen to their bees in real time, hear that something's wrong - and treat them.

At the other end of the expo, Mickey Schaefer and Sierra Rezell solve an entirely different problem: the owner of Off the Waffle in Eugene tasked them with making a better waffle iron.

"He wanted to make it lighter and less expensive to manufacture while maintaining the even heat distribution," Schaefer said.

So they did: "Everything that wasn't the cooking surface we replaced with this red stuff which is aluminum."

They said now the owner will take their design and manufacture it, putting it to use right away.

"Once he makes that I'm going to have to go down, visit there and get a waffle off of it," Schaefer said.

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