AME Senior Design Showcase: Unveiling Innovative Solutions to Complex Engineering Challenges

USC engineering students showcase their groundbreaking projects at the annual AME Senior Design Showcase, offering solutions to some of the most pressing technological problems of our time.

In the world of engineering, behind every groundbreaking technological advancement lies a group of dedicated engineers working tirelessly to solve complex problems. The annual AME Senior Design Showcase at the University of Southern California (USC) offers a glimpse into the innovative projects being developed by the next generation of engineers. From advancements in space propulsion to more efficient manufacturing techniques, these projects demonstrate the ingenuity and creativity of young minds in the field of engineering.

Starting simple, aiming sky high:

One of the standout projects at the showcase is the design for an ablative pulsed plasma thruster by seniors Thuy Pham, Brendyn Byrne, Henry Adam, and Sami Haq. Electric propulsion technologies for space exploration have gained significant attention in recent years, but they often come with high production costs. The team’s thruster design aims to increase efficiency by optimizing the electronics and controlling the flow of electricity with a diode. This innovation could potentially reduce power requirements and improve the performance of small spacecraft systems and satellites.

A student-first approach to industry solutions:

Accessibility is a key factor in engineering design, and the showcase features projects that address this concern. A team consisting of Aiden Walters, Dylan Cha, Thomas Bulow, and Youssouf Keita developed a mechanism for desktop wire electrical discharge machining (EDM). This solution allows students to manufacture metal parts for their design projects without relying on expensive and large-scale machines. By reducing the footprint of the machining mill and using a thin copper wire, the team has created a more accessible and cost-effective alternative for metal machining.

One step closer to net-zero aviation:

The global push for net-zero aviation inspired a team of students, Joy Bergstrom, Ashley Kwong, Porter Landefeld, and Swen Severson, to design an innovative control system for electric aircraft. Their avian-inspired gapped wing for roll control offers an alternative to traditional ailerons, reducing energy consumption and increasing the range and capabilities of electric aircraft. This design has the potential to revolutionize the aviation industry and pave the way for widespread electrification of aircraft.

An exoskeleton for astronauts:

The challenges of walking on other planets led Kaitlyn Kumar, Manas Shah, Nicolas Gomez, and Yvonne Li to develop an exoskeleton called FROGO (Flexible RObotic Gait Optimization). This electrically-actuated knee exoskeleton enhances jump travel for astronauts, making planetary navigation more efficient and less physically taxing. By optimizing controls and following the natural curve of the body during a jump, the team achieved a 26% reduction in power consumption and a 10% increase in jump height, comparable to industry-standard tests.


The AME Senior Design Showcase at USC highlights the remarkable projects and innovations being developed by engineering students. From advancements in space propulsion to more efficient manufacturing techniques and groundbreaking solutions for aviation and space exploration, these projects demonstrate the potential for engineering to shape the future. The dedication, creativity, and problem-solving skills of these young engineers offer hope for a world where technology continues to push boundaries and solve complex challenges.

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