University of Michigan - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute


  1. JI Innovative Team ‘Wonder 4’ Wonderful

    October 16, 2014 by Ziqi Guo, Dié Ruan, Shelly Sun, translated by Yi-Ling Bauchau   Share:   RenRen   Print

    ‘Wonder 4’ was a team of 4 JI freshmen randomly formed for the Vg 100 (Introduction to Engineering) course, along with other 20 teams, last summer. The team members collaborated amazingly well and achieved outstanding results. Within 4 short weeks, the 4 novice freshmen completed two projects, i.e., a wireless controlled hovercraft and a smart faucet: Wonder Tap.

    Their Hovercraft Manual Got 20,000 Hits in 7 Days

    Wonder4 project on website

    Hovercraft was the major assignment of the 2014 Summer Vg 100 course. Every team had to develop a manually controlled hovercraft in 4 weeks and take part in the speed contest. The whole process would be written into an English manual and uploaded to a website.

    Team ‘Wonder 4’ submitted their manual to “Instructables,” the largest DIY website in the United States. Within 2 days, they got 4,000 hits. In a week, the audience climbed to more than 20,000. The team also won the second prize in the remote control contest sponsored by the website. Pleasantly overwhelmed, the team confirmed what they had learned from this course.

    Ziqi Guo, the team leader, admitted that their hovercraft was not the fastest in JI’s contest. However, the readership of their manual surpassed all other teams because of their team spirit and work ethic. The team divided the labor and worked together “harmoniously and happily like a family,” remarked team member Yijun Ho. Another member Zheng Dong reported that during preparation of the manual, they discussed with the instructors for almost 5 hours and revised the manual nearly 10 times. Every detail and every graph were meticulously compiled. Of course, they knew their manual was not perfect and welcomed critiques from the netizens.

    ‘Wonder 4’ team members think they have gained more than just skills and knowledge. The most important is the passion for research, the ability to solve problems, and the precious camaraderie. Their instructors, Prof. Roberto Dugnani and Dr. Nick Welch-Bolen, are very proud of the students’ achievement. They teach not only knowledge and skills but also thinking capabilities and passion for learning.

    Wonder Tap Employing 3-D Printing Technique 


             During JI’s 2014 Summer Design Expo, Team ‘Wonder 4’ exhibited another of their innovations: Wonder Tap(video). Ziqi Guo commented that they got inspired by the lack of lighting in China’s remote villages where people have difficulty fetching water at night. Their faucet is installed with a light powered by water pressure, so when the water is running, the faucet lights up. Besides, an internal alarm will set off within minutes if the faucet is not turned off, thereby preventing wasting of water.

    The faucet is only the size of a fist, but its exterior shell uses the state-of-the-art 3-D printing technique. Guo commented that to waterproof the faucet so the interior gadget stays dry, they had tried many ways without success. Eventually, they came up with the 3-D printing technique and it worked marvelously.

    Based on their experience with the hovercraft, Team ‘Wonder 4’ collaborated even more seamlessly while facing the new project with completely different problems and challenges.  “A faucet may look simple, but it is very difficult to produce a compact and efficient power generator,” Guo explained. “The final model at the Design Expo was the result of 4 generations of prototyping, with constant improvement and experiments. What we have learned most from this project is our work attitude. We treated our product like our child. We strived for perfection without missing a detail.”


    Members of Team ‘Wonder 4’ with their instructors

    (from left:Yijun Ho, Jin Chen,  Prof. Roberto Dugnani, Dr. Nick Welch-Bolen, Ziqi Guo, Zheng Dong)

            Team ‘Wonder 4’ is special but not unique at JI. From their first day at JI, the students have been instilled with team spirit, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which they would apply to their academic work and future career. Every year, more and more students explore innovation and deliver increasingly innovative performance.