Sandia LabNews

Texas Tech wins Sandia MEMS design competition

Texas Tech wins Sandia MEMS design competition

Students from Texas Tech University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department have won this year’s annual MEMS design competition sponsored by Sandia.

“Grades became secondary as students concerned themselves with turning ideas into designs,” says Texas Tech professor Tim Dallas.

Said contest judge and University of Utah professor Bob Huber, “The design tools and production facilities needed for a real learning experience in the MEMS field are too expensive for all but the wealthiest schools to provide. This program brings these facilities within reach of many more schools.”

He says students respond “with some super designs.”

Texas Tech student lead Phillip Beverly and team advisor Tim Dallas have been awarded a trip to Sandia to present their ideas and tour its facilities, say Harold Stewart (1749) and Dave Sandison (1769), who run the University Alliance for Sandia. Texas Tech has also been awarded membership in the international MEMS organization MANCEF.

In addition, student teams from the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Albuquerque’s Technical Vocational Institute, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will have their designs fabricated for free, using the world’s most advanced silicon surface micromachining fabrication process, SUMMiT V™, developed by Sandia.

The winning entry was a combination of four individual designs that included a micromechanical clock, a microchain, a torsion micromirror, and a micron-sized atomic force microscope. The design was chosen based on the use of SUMMiT’s specific strengths, usefulness of the design for educational demonstrations, and uniqueness of design.

Institutions must be members of Sandia’s MEMS University Alliance for their students to participate. Membership is available to any US institution of higher learning. Members receive course materials structured to help start or further develop their own MEMS program, licenses for Sandia’s cutting-edge MEMS design software, and other benefits. All University Alliance members, regardless of contest participation, receive MEMS parts to use in their curriculum. Ten schools currently are members of the Alliance.

Sandia recognizes the need to be proactive in attracting and training the next generation of the MEMS workforce. The Alliance supports microsystems education with cost-effective programs and by building relationships with US students and professors. This is the first year of the design competition.

For more information on the contest or Sandia’s MEMS University Alliance, contact Natasha Bridge at For information about becoming a member of the University Alliance, contact Kathryn Hanselmann at