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Delicatessen Glove Donning Machine Wins Capstone Contest

We’ve all seen the problem: Food service employees struggling to tug on those cumbersome, rubbery, hygienic gloves required by law. We’ve all asked ourselves the same question. How many times per day must they yank them on and off? Now a team of seniors from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has created an automatic mechanism to help them do it. The “Delicatessen Glove Donning Machine” won first place in the senior capstone design contest, held on April 30, when 23 teams from the MIE department demonstrated the prototypes of their useful, inventive, and brilliant designs for all to see. Second place went to a “Wick Centering Device Cleaning System” for the Yankee Candle Company, while third place was a tie between an “Elderly Assisted Standing Device” for someone in an independent living facility and an “Integrated Hood Cooling System” for cars.

The event was part of the two capstone senior design courses taught by MIE Professors Sundar Krishnamurty and Jenna Marquard. The courses demand that students use all the knowledge and skills they have developed during their undergraduate education and apply them to resolving topical problems of the day. Mechanical engineering students must design a utilitarian product, build a prototype, summarize the project with a poster, and make a verbal presentation to judges. Industrial engineering students work with a company liaison to identify problems or areas of concern within the business and use their analytical skills to provide recommendations on how to solve those problems.

The team of William Douglass, Adam Glick, Michael Olson, and Gene Rush produced the “Delicatessen Glove Donning Machine.” As their poster described this project, “Deli workers currently don gloves manually, which can be an unsanitary and frustrating process. Objective is to design and prototype an easy-to-use, automatic device that will streamline the glove-donning process by improving food hygiene, maximizing customer satisfaction, and increasing worker productivity.”

In the team’s prototype, a vacuum blower secures a pair of gloves to plates, a vacuum pump system positions the gloves, and a centrifugal fan inflates the gloves. Then foot-pedal switches, pressure-activated solenoids, and a 12-volt power supply enable a hands-free user interface. The prototype attained a system reliability of 92 percent, increased employee productivity by reducing donning time from eight to five seconds, and made the process more hygienic by eliminating user contact with the outside of the gloves.

The “Wick Centering Device Cleaning System” was created by the team of Justin Harris, Liam Kelly, Stephen Maglione, and Jacob Zanderigo for its team sponsor, the Yankee Candle Company, which needed to develop a system for cleaning the excess wax off of its wick-centering devices (WCDs). Yankee Candle noted that the cleaning system must be capable of performing automated batch runs used to clean multiple WCDs at once, and the mechanism must reduce the waste of the WCDs and decrease the number of cases of wax cross-contamination.

As the team poster explained, “Our project goal is to create a system to relieve those issues: develop a prototype cleaning system that will clean approximately a dozen WCDs at once; cleaning system must be designed that it can accommodate all variations of WCDs; satisfy all Yankee Candle’s needs and design constraints.”

In the finished product, a grease trap uses baffles that separate low-density fluids from high-density fluids. A wire-mesh loading basket is placed in the stainless steel chamber full of boiling water, allowing for easy removal of WCDs, then pumped-in water dilutes the concentration of wax.

The third-place team of Ariana Barrenechea, Dan Hewitt, Robert Tremblay, Liyang Wang, and Emily Rodowicz (College of Nursing) created an “Elderly Assisted Standing Device.” This novel lift system was built to assist an elderly client, who resides in an independent-living residence, rise from the ground to a stranding position. This was one of two teams working on collaborative mechanical engineering and nursing projects, which are sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Falls are a well-known issue amongst the elderly community,” as the team poster noted. “Most falls result in no serious physical injury, but are known to cause psychological and emotional distress. The [device] will allow our client, Jenny, to independently reach a comfortable seated position. The device will eliminate the client’s need to call for assistance and will provide a safe, stress-free solution to a potentially hazardous situation. This device will ultimately improve the client’s quality of life and instill self-confidence.”

The other third-place invention was an “Integrated Hood Cooling System,” designed and built by the team of Joshua Civelli, Elisabeth Foster, Brian Pray, and Valeriy Savich.

As the team poster said, “The lack of products providing additional engine cooling without increasing aerodynamic drag drove us to develop a solution which supports the ongoing quest for maximizing vehicle efficiency and performance. Potential market is stock-car racing, hybrid-electric vehicles, commercial 18-wheel trucks, and high-performance production vehicles.”

The team’s design solution was an extensive cooling system with piping bonded to the underside of the hood. The team designed a supplementary heat exchanger, which will reduce fuel consumption, improve aerodynamic efficiency, increase engine performance, and add minimal weight to the vehicle, while not inducing drag or being obtrusive to the driver. (May 2014)