Self-Stirring Coffee Cup Earns a Top Spot in Student Design Competition

While pouring a cup of coffee one evening, Daytona Beach Mechanical Engineering freshman Nolan Alexander ran into a problem: he had no spoon to stir sugar into his mug.

That dilemma sparked Alexander’s idea to create a self-stirring travel mug for an Engineering Fundamentals design competition with teammates David Roquebert and Matthew Pendleton.

The project, designed in the CATIA computer-aided design (CAD) program, won Most Creative Design Award during the third annual EGR120 Poster Competition Dec. 9.

By replicating the heat-trapping capabilities of a YETI tumbler cup and integrating a self-stirring element with a friendly interface, the students designed a mug that would keep beverages hot or cold for hours and eliminate the need for a spoon. By simply pressing an outside button on the mug, a battery-operated motor and mixing blade would kick into gear and stir the drink.

“As a freshman, this was the first time doing a project that was this in-depth,” Alexander said. “It was fun to come up with an idea and take it where you wanted. Our next step is to make a 3-D print of it.”

Engineering Professor Dr. Lulu Sun encouraged students to use their interests to design a real world product and make it better.

“The goal is to improve students’ study skills to prepare them to be the next generation of engineering professionals,” Dr. Sun said. “The expected outcomes are increased and improved innovative thinking, communication and teamwork skills while helping students develop their critical entrepreneurial mindset and skills.”

She said several students plan to conduct further research and development on their projects to take them to the next level.  

More than 200 students participated in the competition, including 60 who presented their projects. Judges included: Dr. Marc Compere, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering; Dr. Hongyun Chen, assistant professor of Civil Engineering; Dr. Sally Blomstrom, Digital Studio Director and associate professor of Communication; Kaloki Nabutola, a Mechanical Engineering doctoral student; Matt Clark, an Aerospace Engineering graduate student; Dean White, a Mechanical Engineering graduate student; and Jaclyn Wiley, a Digital Studio student assistant.

Other winning projects

Best Presentation

  • Longboard Breaks by Santiago Mujica, Samuel Feldman and Alexis Smith
  • Alarm_U by Shane Leyden and Kurt Wiest

Most Sophisticated Design

  • Contra-Rotating Propeller Drive Mechanism by Colin Nix and James Bennett

The People’s Choice

  • Riddle Rocket by Ayotunde Gibert, Lezlee Roopchand and Joseph Zabbatin

The Best Poster Design Award

  • KEG Engineering by Adam Eveleth, Andrew Guggenheim and Brittany Kinman

 The Most Sustainable Design Award

  • Balisong by Ruel Murant, Cole Simpkins and Austin Cassels

The Best of the Best Award 

  • Self-Performing Earphones (SPE) by Wanjiku Kanjumba and Alyssa Crystal

You know WHERE you’re going. We help you GET THERE.

Learn about Engineering Degrees @ Embry-Riddle

Add a Comment

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at