In early May 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 panel of expert judges gave special kudos to several team projects. The Best Industry Sponsored category resulted in a three-way tie among Teams 3 and 4 (Pratt & Whitney) and Team 8 (Kinex Cappers). Team 22 (Electromagnetic Brake) was chosen as the Best Semester-long Project. The Best Student Concept went to Team 21 (Sand Mask). And, finally, the Most Popular category ended in a two-way tie between Team 15 (Self-Massage) and Team 28 (Dock Ladder), which was determined by public voting.
The course and its year-end competition are considered “the integrative culminating experience” of the education in the MIE department. “These are our senior capstone design projects where our students apply everything they have learned in their engineering curriculum and their Gen Ed courses together in real-world projects,” explained MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty.
This capstone course, co-taught in the spring by Krish Thiagarajan Sharman and Bernd 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.
Team 4 – composed of Winnie Chen, Alden Foelsche, Ryan Foley, Michael Mahoney, and Andy Tran – created a “High Cycle Fatigue Test Rig.” As the team explained its project: “Pratt & Whitney (P&W)…is a global leader in the design and manufacture of gas turbine engines. Testing procedures for failures due to high cycle fatigue impose high demands on company resources. Expensive industrial testing machinery is currently employed. P&W is looking for a low-cost option that examines fatigue characteristics at resonance, delivering data with the same fidelity as current testing equipment.”
Team 3, made up of Ryan Chen, Anthony Evans, Kaitlin Perkins, Daniel Segarra, Aniruudh Somasundaram, and Justin West, integrated their efforts closely with Team 4. “High Cycle Fatigue Specimen” will test the effects of the most fundamental vibration modes - 1st and 2nd bending and 1st torsion - on an airfoil within the compression section of a gas turbine engine. As the team members said, “This system should test the effects of each vibration mode on an airfoil within a gas turbine engine and the fatigue crack formation leading to part failure.”
The Team 8 group of Nicholas Frassenei, Joseph Murphy, Joshua Wang, Evan Rogers, and Brian Cole came up with a unique solution for Kinex Cappers by designing and building an electronic system capable of replacing the problematic compressed-air systems now used for capping. As the team members pointed out, “While cost effective, some customers don’t have compressed air, don’t want to buy a compressor, or don’t want a noisy compressor in their shop. There are also some environments in which compressed air presents a contamination problem. An entirely electronic system capable of being powered by a standard 120 AC volt outlet would appeal to customers in both situations.”
The Team 22 project of an “Anti-Lock Braking System for Bicycles” was carried out by Peter Cajolet, Matthew Eden, Jonathan Fraser, and Heer Patel. “A safety concern bicyclists face when braking is the loss of traction due to the locking of the wheels,” as the team explained. “When this occurs, the bicyclist may lose control of the bicycle, which creates a safety hazard for the operator and nearby pedestrians…The primary objective of this project is to design an anti-lock braking system for bicycles to provide consistent braking and to maximize safety of the rider.”
“Sand Mask” was the project of Team 21, made up of Tim Barrow, Stephen Beaumont, Devin Caulfield, Sam Chiburis, and Adam Chory. The object, said the five team members, was “to design a rugged, reusable, and breathable mask for the military that prevents the inhalation of sand and dust without causing the user to overheat or be short of breath.”
Michael Turkmani, Sean MacPherson, Nicholas Rosa, Michael Sampson, and Jack Chuma on Team 15 were pursuing the dream of athletes everywhere: a “Therapeutic Self-Massage Device.” As the team members noted, “Massaging one’s own muscles is usually a difficult task which may require a second person. Mr. Kyle Mahoney is pursuing a portable device that allows users to easily massage hard-to-reach muscles by themselves. This device will reduce pain, increase range of motion, and relieve tight muscles at the user’s convenience.”
Team 28 had a very simple and practical goal: “To develop a compact emergency dock ladder that is easy to use, safer than contemporary ladders by eliminating [slippery] marine growth, and provides a means of rescue for those who cannot lift themselves out of the water.” That was the award-winning project completed by team members James Bedell, Terence Doonan, Gar Esborn, and Kyle Gallagher. (May 2018)