PULLMAN, Wash. — How many live elephants can you fit into the cargo hold of a Boeing 747? The answer is no joke, and it’s one that six Washington State University students have been working with the Boeing Company to solve.

The students have developed a computer program that could end up helping airline industry personnel ensure that animals of all species are transported safely. The software determines whether air conditioning capabilities of aircraft cargo compartments need to provide or remove heat, oxygen, water and carbon dioxide to accommodate the animals’ needs. The airline industry has expressed interest in the program.

On Friday, May 3, the students will make a public presentation about their project to David Walker, a Boeing engineer who works to improve aircraft air conditioning systems. The presentation is set for noon in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 114.

The live-animal transport project is being conducted as part of a yearlong, senior-projects course taught in the department of biological systems engineering. Denny Davis, professor in the department and director of the bioengineering program, is teaching the course.

“The students, four of whom have received scholarships from Boeing, are addressing a real problem faced by the airline industry, and they are learning firsthand the challenges of producing a product that meets both technical requirements and conditions that justify a business investment,” said Davis. “Student interaction with Boeing personnel has made this a wonderful learning experience.”

The Boeing scholars program provides students with two-year scholarships and an internship at the company between their junior and senior years. The students then collaborate with Boeing scientists and engineers to complete a project during their senior year. This is the second year WSU students have worked on the live animal transport problem.

The undergraduates participating on the project come from various disciplines, including engineering, the sciences and business.

Editor’s Note:
The participating students include:
Rebecca Greggain, zoology, pre-med, Clarkston, (509) 338-4834, Boeing Scholar
Kimberly Small, marketing (business), Lacey, (509) 333-5045, Boeing Scholar
Jackie Sandle, computer engineering, Lakewood, Boeing Scholar
Emily Larson, biological systems engineering, Bothell, (509) 332-6829, Boeing Scholar
Maci Keithly, biological systems engineering, Port Orchard, (509) 339-2001
Jonathan Ruiter, biological systems engineering, Lynden, (509) 332-7454