Wichita State News
Photo: Joe Hartup
From left: Thuan Nguyen, Alex Esparza, Joe Christman and A.J. Whitaker with their new invention, the Xi Sport-Cyclist Training Device.

New invention comes out of engineering class project

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Moving from higher education into the traditional workplace is the dream of most college students.

Wichita State engineering students Joe Christman, Alex Esparza, A.J. Whitaker and Thuan Nguyen may have thrust themselves into the career lane with their invention of the Xi Sport-Cyclist Training Device.

The Xi Sport-Cyclist Training Device is similar to how a stationary bike with pre-programmed workouts operates. Slightly bigger than a cell phone, the device can be put on a regular bicycle. The user can program desired workouts into it, and it will visually display current output.

“(It is) kind of like the exercise bikes at a gym; there you can select whatever kind of workout you want," Christman said. "We’re taking that idea and making it portable. It’s similar to having a coach telling you what you should do and what rate you should be doing it."

The device is a big step in the right direction for this group, “because business is constantly demanding that graduates are work ready,” said John Harrison, the group’s adviser. "These students have withheld the testing, but they are burning, itching to build in the workforce."

Preparing the device for the masses
The students are in the process of designing the cyclist training instrument, easily transported for bicyclists and health admirers alike. The team’s intention is to develop and create a product that is sensible, practical and can be used by consumers at any time.

Like the demo project the team has created, the students continue to explore and reach new levels of creativity. Along with an advanced lesson in collaboration, these local inventors continue to propel themselves closer toward their goal of a finished product and professional employment.

“The students have been following what a class structure is about,” Harrison said. “This is what they will have to do in the industry, a way they can do that, while still under supervision and guidance from the university. It really is the perfect transition.”

Coming a long way
The Electrical Engineering Senior Design class is designed for engineering seniors in their last year at WSU. During this path of study, students in teams of four create a result or improve upon an existing one.

The Xi Sport-Cyclist Training Device was one of seven that was developed through problem-solving with WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship students and then evolved through two mock-ups last semester.

Team captain Christman, an avid cyclist, said his father came up with the idea. Esparza said they have come a long way for first semester students in the two-semester course.

“Everybody has been real eager to work on this; we’ve been able to achieve our objectives at the time that we’ve scheduled them,” Esparza said. “Our group's endeavors surpassed normal Senior Design class requirements, attributable to our dedication for the project.”

Dedication has pushed this group of engineering seniors to long nights of frustration and semi-cold fast food hamburger meals. They have dealt with everything from rewriting SPI codes, to a non-functioning LCD screen.

“I just want to stress that everyone here has been pulling their weight.” Esparza said. “We have worked really long hours, even past midnight up here at the lab.”

Nothing stands in the way as the team perseveres toward the close of the course.

“This assignment has to be done before the end of the fall semester,” Christman said. “I don't think we can leave this project unfinished personally. It would be one of those missed key chances in life to do something really great. I don't think anyone could have dreamed of all the good things that have come from this project. It reinforces it that much more, that we have a really good idea.”

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Created on Wednesday, August 24, 2011; Last modified on Tuesday, September 13, 2011