Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA engineering students showcase bold innovations at November 17 Tech Symposium

UTSA engineering students showcase bold innovations at November 17 Tech Symposium

NOVEMBER 14, 2023 — When UTSA computer engineering student Sara Mustafa’s uncle became paralyzed during cancer treatment and could not feed himself, she witnessed how the loss of independence affected him. He served as the inspiration and namesake for the Optimized Meal Assistance Robot, also known as OMAR.

The OMAR is an assistive robotic arm that gives physically impaired individuals the ability to feed themselves without the assistance of caregivers. It features facial tracking software, customized utensils, user buttons, and a mobile application.

The technology is designed to grant independence and alleviate Caregiver Stress Syndrome (CSS), which is characterized by an increased risk of stress, depression and anxiety in people who need daily care. CSS may affect people who are disabled by limiting an individual’s ability to provide adequate care, which may lead to cases of neglect and mistreatment.


“Our team comprises individuals with diverse skills, including software, hardware and electrical engineering.”




Mustafa and teammates Josie Torres, Elijah Guzman, Caleb Champion, Rafael Robles and Damario Harris are presenting their technology at UTSA’s 2023 Fall Tech Symposium. The semi-annual event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, November 17, in the H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms (HSU 1.104/106) on the university’s Main Campus.

Hosted by the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design (Klesse College), the Tech Symposium offers students the opportunity to showcase their ingenuity, as teams from each of the college’s engineering disciplines present their senior design projects.

Optimized Meal Assistance Robot

“Throughout the process leading up to the Tech Symposium, one major lesson my team and I learned is the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration,” Mustafa said. “Our team comprises individuals with diverse skills, including software, hardware and electrical engineering. Coordinating efforts across these disciplines required effective communication and a shared understanding of each team member's expertise. Furthermore, successful teams are built on open communication channels. This not only enhances efficiency but also fosters a collaborative spirit that is crucial for tackling complex projects.”

More than 300 students from every engineering major are participating in this culminating experience for their degree programs. The Tech Symposium is an excellent opportunity for students to apply their knowledge toward real-word solutions and gain a competitive edge in the job market. It is also an effective way for students from the Klesse College to strengthen their relationships with the business community.

Presentations are divided into two sections. Senior Design I enables engineering students in the first semester of their senior year to present a scientific poster exploring a practical concept related to their major.


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The team will be presented their project, Optimized Meal Assistance Robot, at the Tech Symposium on Friday, November 17.

Senior Design II is for graduating engineering students in their second semester. These students advance their idea from Design I and develop a prototype.

The winners compete for cash awards. The first, second and third place Senior Design II teams receive prizes of $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. The top three Senior Design I teams each receive a $1,000 prize. Professionals with an engineering background in each major category judge the entries.

Tech Symposium winners will be announced at the end of Friday’s event.

Ari Castañeda



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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