Texas Tech team (l. to r.): Bryan Kahler, Steve Mani, Courtney Pinnel, Kaydee McMennamy, Tim Dallas
(l. to r.): Tim Dallas, Steve Mani, Courtney Pinnel, Kaydee McMennamy, Bryan Kahler


Students from colleges and universities across the United States and Mexico gathered at the University of New Mexico's Manufacturing Training and Technology Center (MTTC) to present student designs for MicroElectroMechanicalSystems (MEMS) projects at a conference hosted by UNM's Southwest Center for Microsystems Education recently.

The competition is sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories as part of an ongoing effort to share technology developed at SNL with students and faculty. There are 30 colleges and universities now involved in the alliance. Students work with faculty mentors to design devices and SNL builds the best ones so they can be tested.

The winner of the 2013 Educational Design Category is Texas Tech University for their Semaphore Man device. The winner of the 2013 Novel Design Category is Carnegie Mellon University for their Advanced Support Post Design to Control Residual Stress in MEMS Fixed-Fixed Beams and Reduce Actuation Voltages device.  All teams presented their designs and had their designs reviewed by a panel of professional judges who gave them feedback on their work.

A team from Central New Mexico Community College and East Mountain High School received an honorable mention in the Novel Design Category for their MEMS Robotic arm. They were advised by Matthias Pleil and Olga Vazquez.

MEMS Robotic arm submission by Central New Mexico Community College and East Mountain High School team.  Each gear tooth is smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell.
MEMS Robotic arm submission by Central New Mexico Community College and East Mountain High School team. Each gear tooth is smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell.


Teams from the Air Force Institute of Technology advised by Ronald Coutu and Universidad Veracruzana, advised by Agustin L. Herrera May, received honorable mentions in the Educational Design Category.

The competition, which has been held for more than 10 years, is meant to promote interest in the design and manufacture of MEMS devices. The technology is now an integral part of our lives, but it's almost invisible unless you look for it.  MEMS devices are embedded in smartphones and other electronic systems. These devices sense and actuate – allowing your smart phone to know which way is up and flipping the screen in response. MEMS devices keep your smartphone signal from dropping as you move from one place to another, and MEMS devices work to keep you connected to your telephone service provider's system.

For more information on how MEMS design and manufacture is taught in schools, visit UNM's NSF-funded Southwest Center for Microsystems Education website.

Learn more about the Sandia National Laboratories MEMS Design Competition, visit MEMS University Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories University Alliance Program.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; email: kwent2@unm.edu