When Valparaiso University art professor Liz Wuerffel saw a magazine article last year about an aerial photo device made with a kite, an idea was born that led to a unique collaboration between the University’s art department and the College of Engineering.

“I knew that with our engineering students, we could take the idea of an aerial photography device to a new level,” said Wuerffel, who immediately contacted Valpo’s College of Engineering.

Jeff Will, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, loved the idea, and asked Wuerffel to pitch her idea to his senior design class – small groups of engineering students in their senior year who plan and build an actual product to serve a specific need or purpose.

Two teams of Valpo engineering students chose to plan and build the aerial photo devices. Team Aerial Kapture set to work on a device that could fly or hover indoors, and Team Air Force One designed and built a device for outdoor use.

The academic yearlong project included conceptualization, design, planning and construction of the devices. In April, the teams were able to launch their completed remote controlled aerial cameras into the air.

“I was incredibly excited,” said Ryan Norris, member of Team Air Force One. “It’s such a relief to see it up there, and it’s rewarding, because I’m doing something that the whole campus community can get involved in.”

Engineering students who worked on the projects included Hannah Allchin, Wes Bullock, Collin Seanor, Hani Simsim, Abdullah Alferdaws, Trent Beck, Ryan Norris, Meshari Al-Mashari, James Needing and Kyle Stump. They worked in close collaboration with a number of arts students including Nathan Sullivan, Arissa Wallace and Taylor Bryson.

The projects cost a total of about $2,000, with funding coming from the art department, College of Engineering and a $500 CELT (Committee to Enhance Learning and Teaching) grant.

“Engineering is a service discipline, and in Valpo’s College of Engineering we work to develop servant leaders,” said Will. “To be able to come to the art department and fulfill some of their needs has been a great collaborative learning experience.”

Both Wuerffel and Will said they hope that the collaborative project can serve as a model for other departments on campus as well as for other colleges and universities.

More information about the College of Engineering and Valpo’s Department of Art can be found at valpo.edu/engineering and valpo.edu/art.