The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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MIE Senior Design Project Competition Produces Three Big-time Winners

MIE Capstone Project

On April 26 the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department held its annual Senior Design Project competition, the climax and showcase event for the MIE capstone course, “MIE 415: Design of Mechanical Systems.” The course and its year-end competition are considered “the integrative culminating experience” of the education in the MIE department. See pictures from the event in Engineering's Spring 2016 photo album.

“These are our senior capstone design projects where our students student apply everything they have learned in their engineering curriculum and their Gen Ed courses together in real-world projects,” said MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty.

This capstone course co-taught by Professors Frank Sup and Bernie Schliemann acts as a proof of concept for the whole MIE curriculum. The course demands that students use the knowledge and skills they have developed during their entire undergraduate education to design a utilitarian product, build a prototype, summarize the project with a poster, and finally make a verbal presentation to judges.

This semester there were three winning teams in three separate categories: Best Judged Student Concept Project – Lower Leg Injury Resistance Exercise Brace; Best Judged Sponsored Project – Tsubaki Pin Sorter; Crowd Favorite Project by Audience Vote – Barrel Bot Keg Picking System.

The judges chose the Lower Leg Injury Resistance Exercise Brace as the project with the Best Student Concept. The problem it addresses is that, with stress fractures and other injuries most common in the distal tibia/ankle areas, injured athletes can’t exercise for six to eight weeks. Ask any athlete how that lack of activity feels, and he or she will issue a deep sigh of frustration.

The object of the exercise brace is to allow for extensive cardiovascular exercise by replicating a fluid cycling motion while also protecting the injured lower leg by reducing load on the tibia and ankle. The solution is a lower leg brace mounted on, and linked to, a stationary bicycle frame so that the user can “pedal” with the injured leg without putting pressure on the incapacitated tibia or ankle. The prototype of the brace assembly, created by the team of Alessandro Bomprezzi, Brian Jin, Emily Lajoie, and Daniel Sheldon, ended up weighing 4.16 pounds, costing $92.80 to manufacture, and it was able to produce up to 87 RPM at 50 watts.

In winning the prize for Best Sponsored Project, the team of Derek Dumouchel, Joe Howard, Timothy Joy, Matthew Zampi, and Mark Nuytkens produced the Tsubaki Timing Chain Roll Pin Sorting Machine, whose object is to recover losses associated with the cross contamination of timing chain roll pins of varying diameters.

As the team poster described its solution, “A gravity fed air rejection system was designed around a [Keyence TM-040 2D Optical Micrometer] sensor to avoid surface roughness errors. A helical coil regulates the bulk flow of pin input from a hopper. A powered belt ensures axial alignment of the pins for continuous flow. Pins are queued in a tube leading to a V-trough and wheel that maintains in plane alignment and regulates frequency of the pins that proceed through the sensor. Compressed air from a pneumatic solenoid valve alters the trajectory of acceptable pins to the correct output providing a failsafe system.”

The third award-winning team of Eric Baggen, Kevin Boucher, Gina Georgadarellis, James Lefebvre, and Dylan Rubinic produced the Barrel Bot Keg Picking System, which was chosen as the Crowd Favorite Project by Audience Vote.

The team poster aptly described the background of this project: “Since brewery warehouses rely on manual labor in order to move kegs, worker safety and overall efficiency of worker tasks is concerning. Based on these concerns, Jeff Slater of IS&C invented the concept of the Barrel Bot: a robot that expedites the picking, transporting, and storage processes of kegs, while minimizing the amount of labor. Mr. Slater enlisted two teams from last semester to complete proof-of-concept prototypes of two of the Barrel Bot’s subsystems: the picking arm and the suspension system. The goal for this iteration is to further develop the Barrel Bot towards a more functional product.” (May 2016)