The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Recent Projects

At the beginning of the semester industrial and mechanical engineering seniors select projects that interest them and can better prepare them for the type of engineering work they want to pursue after graduation. This ensures the best experience for the students and the best project result for our sponsors. The types of projects that students are most often drawn to can be sorted into the following relatively broad categories.



  1. Medical Applications
  2. Industrial Equipment
  3. Environmental Initiatives
  4. Recreational Products
  5. Entrepreneurial Prototypes

Medical Applications

Lower Leg Injury Resistance Exercise Brace. The project objective is to design and prototype a brace which bypasses loads on the distal tibia during a cycling exercise. The brace can be attached to the pedal of a stationary bike for individuals to maintain fitness during the lengthy recovery period necessary to heal from severe injuries such as stress fractures. In order to develop an ergonomic design, the team utilized three different types of engineering standards which led to a final list of specifications. The brace was designed for infinite life, fabricated using a combination of 3D printed ABS for the brace and machined aluminum links for connections from the brace to the pedal.

The Speed Walker: A Walker Monitor. The goal of this project was to create a monitor that provides a universal connection to any walker. Developing a monitor that displays average speed, time elapsed, and distance traveled would allow physical therapists to quickly and easily administer a standard walking and distance test. In addition, a visual representation of a patient’s endurance and speed will motivate the patient to fully engage in the rehabilitation process. The developed prototype consists of an Arduino connected to a touchscreen display, and guides the user through a speed or distance test through a graphical user interface. A small modular wheel measures distance by recording the number of rotations through a reed sensor and three embedded magnets. The Arduino has been programmed to record time, divide the distance traveled by the time elapsed, and display the resulting velocity in m/s. The prototype is wireless out of necessity, and specifically run by a 2500mAh power bank.  

Adaptive Walker. The purpose of this project was to design an assistive device that alleviated the innate inability of walkers to assist users up stairs. The final Adaptive Walker design satisfies this concern by converting a walker into a forearm crutch through simple mechanical actuation, acting as a safe support while walking up or down stairs. The added mobility provided by this device improves the ability of walker users to travel and reduces the need for users to own multiple walkers, typically one for each floor of their home.

Assistive Feeding Device. The primary goal of this design project was to create an assistive feeding device for our patient and other individuals who lack function in their arms. The inability to move one’s arms presents a variety of troubles that affected individuals encounter on a daily basis, namely with eating, personal hygiene, and self-care. The objective of this design is to present the patient with an alternative approach to eating by taking advantage of the functioning parts of the body such as the legs, back, and torso. Motivation for this concept came from a thorough analysis of the patient with the help of a UMass nursing student.

Walker Object Detector Attachment. The goal of this project is to provide mobility assistance to an elderly client that is currently suffering from macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is an incurable disease which causes loss in the central and peripheral vision In order to achieve this goal, the team built an obstacle detecting device which would be attached onto a walker and would alert the user of potential hazards at a fixed distance in front of them, allowing for safe navigation throughout the user’s environment. When designing the object detector, multiple concepts were derived based on the objectives and functional decomposition of the project. In order to refine these concepts into a final design concept, each concept was compared the advantages and disadvantages by their components, and the relatively best solution was chosen. Testing methods for this device focused on evaluating its safety and compliance to ISO standards. These evaluation methods include tests that were designed by the team, modifications of tests from scientific articles, and tests outlined in ISO Standard 11199.

Passive Multifunction OA Knee Brace. The prototype serves as a proof of concept for the knee sleeve team’s objective to reduce the moment and therefore, reduce the forces experienced by those who have osteoarthritis. Featured but not explicitly shown in this picture are bands that will run across the length of the design and clamp at the peripheries of the structure where the screws stick out. In order to ensure that they are stable when engaged by the user, guide tracks were 3-D printed to help keep the elastic bands in place. Connected to the guide tracks are arms which help to pride mechanical advantage to the user when the bands are engaged. The design also features a neoprene sleeve with straps that the user can adjust to their desired comfort when using. A recommendation that the group plans on implementing in future iterations is the use of lubricant between the elastic band and the surface of the guides that the bands will move across. This will ensure proper sliding between the elastic bands and the guide trays. Another recommendation that the team would like to try and implement is to mimic the change in the moment arm which happens in the knee during both flexion and extension. Currently this prototype only supports a constant moment arm throughout the entire range of motion of the knee and the implementation of something like could provide for a more efficient design along with added comfort for the user.

Surgical Force Sensor. An intraoperative surgical force sensing system was designed and developed to measure the location and magnitude of the forces acting on the instrument. These forces arise from bone and hard tissue contact during arthroscopic surgery. The device itself consists of four strain gauges, placed along the length of its shaft, connected to a data acquisition (DAQ) board that transfers strain data to LabVIEW. Force calculations are made in LabVIEW, yielding one point load that represents the totality of the forces acting on the instrument. Test results will be used by Smith & Nephew to optimize the design of their arthroscopic surgical tools to reduce the invasiveness of the surgery and in turn reducing patient recovery time. The system is able to record magnitude and location of the forces within resolutions of ​+ 0.25 lbf and ​+ 0.5 inches, respectively.


Pants Assistance Device. The Pants Assistance Device enables the client, an elderly gentleman with no practical use of his arms or shoulders, to put on pants or underwear independently. This grants independence and spares the client from the discomfort of having to ask for assistance with such a personal task. Specifically, the device allows the client to attach the waistband of his pants or underwear into a locking component, which is eight and a half inches above his highest resting hand position. While the device is attached to the waistband, the client’s pants or underwear can be raised up to his waist using the lower handle. When the lever is squeezed, the tongue opens allowing the pants to be removed from the device. The Pants Assistance Device does not require that any modifications be made to the client's existing clothing nor does it require any changes to his existing daily routine. By taking advantage of the client’s grip and lowering the point of action to within his reach, the device enables the client to put his pants on without assistance. During interviews, the client has confirmed that he would be comfortable using the Pants Assistance Device as designed and does not anticipate it to be intrusive or pose any additional challenges. The client does not expect the device to draw attention to him and finds the device sufficiently small. 

Suboccipital Release Device. The suboccipital release device was developed to give physical therapy patients the ability to perform the suboccipital release procedure on themselves from the convenience of their own homes. Suboccipital release is a stretch used to combat the built up tension that occurs in the suboccipital muscles as a result of head forward posture which is common in computer and smartphone users. Suboccipital release is also often effective in relieving headaches as tight suboccipital muscles can put pressure on nerves in the neck and head leading to headaches and even migraines. The suboccipital release device is designed to allow patients to administer the stretch to themselves which will result in an increase in the frequency that they are able to receive the stretch. No longer will the frequency that a patient receives the stretch be limited to how often they can visit their physical therapist.

Oven Rack Lifter. The main goal of this design project was to design a mechanical assembly that would assist people in removing oven racks from ovens. This assembly was created with the main audience being people who have difficulty bending downwards and lifting objects. The set of the population would mainly consist of elderly people and people with back problems. Using an oven to cook food is a daily activity for many people which will make this device useful. The design was developed after researching common dimensions of ovens within current households. The “rack” is lifted along the vertical tracks by using pulley cables that are attached to the non-moving part of the drawer mechanism. Due to the extreme heat created by the oven, the motor will be installed outside of the oven cavity in order to operate at standard conditions. If this design idea proves to be too expensive for our budget, we will implement a simple handle that someone can use to show the design works properly.


Portable Dental Chair. The goal of this project is to design and fabricate a portable dental chair for the Community Health Center of Franklin County (CHCFC). To start, the team looked at different designs for portable dental chairs available on the market and decided to base the new design on a foldable lawn chair. The new chair base is significantly lighter and more comfortable than the chair currently in use. To make sure the new chair design is strong enough to hold larger adults, Finite Element Analysis (FEA) has been performed on models of the frame of the chair as well of all the components that the team added to it. To ensure the chair is adequate for dental use, the team has designed a vinyl cover that will be attached to the chair so that it can be easily cleaned and disinfected. To improve the portability of the chair a wheel assembly, handle, and locking mechanism has been designed so that when the chair is folded it can be rolled without unfolding which allows for easier transportation. The chair’s arm locking mechanism has been redesigned so that the chair can be locked at different recline angles without accidentally losing the position; and the mechanism also allows the chair’s operator to adjust the angle with a patient in the chair. The design was modeled using CREO Parametric and all of the parts and assemblies have been tested in ANSYS.

Adaptive Rowing Device. The adaptive rowing device needed for Unified Health and Performance Center is one that will attach to the standard Concept2 rowing machine seat via existing hardware within the seat. In doing so, the focal point of our modular device will be installed easily and coexist with the machine as if it was always meant to be there. From there, the device will serve to provide the lumbar support necessary to train effectively on the rowing machine, encourage proper posture and form for the athlete while improving performance, and allow for rowing to be an independent mode of exercise for any athlete regardless of their condition. With this seat in use at Unified Health and Performance Center, the rowing experience will go from one highly intensive in monitoring of the athlete’s safety and potentially harmful physically to some athletes, to one that is easy to use and requiring little to no monitoring outside of training purposes. This enables the rower and eases the workload on Brendan and his staff, which ultimately will make this a successful project for all parties involved. Currently, the project is at a point where the design is still early on its development, but the required pre-design steps of the human centered design approach we took will allow for next semester to consist of refining and optimizing the design. As we define our recommendations for the future, it is important to understand and evaluate where our current concepts are succeeding, but also where they are failing and need improvement. With a clear definition of our intended users and extensive research into designing for disabilities, refining the design will include close attention to meeting the customer needs that we identified through interviews, research, meetings, and interactions.

Assistive Devices for Nemaline Myopathy Patient. Our client is a four-year old child with Nemaline Myopathy, a disorder affecting his skeletal muscles which leaves him with very little muscular strength. Because of this disorder our client is unable to properly use his arms, among other things. Assistive arm devices were made that initially consisted of elastic cords attached to an above-head structure that would hang down attach to his wrists, supporting the weight of his arms. A group of engineering students created assistive support devices for our client’s arms that would provide him with greater planar range of motion and increase ease of use. These assistive devices using two members with full range of motion at joints and an arm rest at the end and attached to the table connected to his chair. The scope of our project is to improve upon the existing assistive devices taking into account feedback from our client and his mother on the current devices, along with incorporating our own novel ideas and mechanisms discussed with university staff. Possible designs were created, discussed and narrowed down to two possible designs using what metrics for evaluation were available. However due to lack of knowledge on how well our client will actually be able to use proposed designs, two designs were agreed upon to be prototyped and given to our client to test. One design consists of two members with full range of motion of the joint at the base and the joint connecting the two members. A second design consists of two members with a fixed-adjustable joint at the base, a joint restricted by angle locks that connects the two members, and an armrest fixed to linear slides on the second member. Analysis was performed on both designs to determine required force to induce movement in all possible directions to ensure that our client could manipulate the deceived with what strength he does have. Additional analysis was performed to determine the structural integrity of each design and required build materials.

Portable Self-Massage Device. The main goal of this design project was to create a portable massage device that can attach to a door frame or squat rack. This device must be able to rotate in the sagittal plane with ease, while locking at any angle in that plane. The resulting design has a massage ball roughly the size of a golf ball with a six-inch rod that rotates allowing the user to apply pressure to the ball and massage aching muscles. The preliminary design is based on two assemblies, the clamp and the rotating massage rod. The clamp design has adjustable knobs allowing it to be tightened on a squat rack or door frame. To prevent damage to the mounting surface, the tightening screws have a rotating base. To provide a third point of contact, there is a pressure point on the clamp preventing rotation of the tightened clamp when the user applies a force. To allow rotation, the rod has a friction fit based on a cam lever clamp, allowing the device to be hand tightened and fit at any angle within the 180° range. To prevent any sort of injury to the user, a rubber coating is applied to corners. The final product is a portable, lightweight, and durable device.

Ultra Light-Beam. The main objective of this design project is to develop an autonomous task lighting system that can be integrated into an existing environment to assist the user in their task as well as maintaining an effective work space and reducing the need for auxiliary support staff. The ability of the user to redirect the area of illumination to a desired area without physically interfacing with the light is paramount to this design and is, therefore, prioritized above all other requirements. After comprehensively exploring industries and completing market research by contacting professionals in several fields, we determined that this product could have an important impact in the medical industry. This lighting system has been designed to be used in non-surgical, examination procedures that require additional lighting; more specifically scenarios when maintaining a sterile environment is important and a focused beam of light is necessary. These situations range from inserting an IV to applying/removing sutures from a wound. The medical industry was chosen as the focal market because of the advantages this product will provide to medical professionals in treating their patients. Several armature and control designs were evaluated for their ability to be autonomously controlled and fulfill basic medical lighting requirements. After many design iterations we recommend a light that utilizes a gimbal for the purpose of redirecting the light sources which mounts to an adjustable frame.

Wheelchair Brake Redesign. The wheelchair brake redesign project is a year-long project sponsored by Wheel Equal Inc. which focuses on redesigning the current braking system on standard wheelchairs. In the fall, the project’s focus is redesigning the existing brake mechanism and developing a three-dimensional prototype. In the spring the focus will be shifted to manufacturing, testing and preparing the final prototype for market distribution. The overall goal of the project is to redevelop the brakes so that riders have chairs with longer lifetime, better ease of use, and increased mobility. Two wheelchairs donated by Ki Mobility are used for sizing requirements and will be used for testing when the final prototype is developed. The main objectives of the brake design are to recreate the mechanism so that it better secures to the frame of the wheelchair, can be easily adjusted for varying wheel diameters, and is functional for riders with limited mobility. The original brake mechanism was changed from the model that exists today so that a longer handle could be produced, decreasing the amount of actuating force required to engage the brake. The tubing that connects the clamp and braking mechanism was created to accommodate multiple wheel diameters, and the pin and hole mechanism allows for quick adjustments. The clamp was created to assure the brake would not move radially around the frame of the chair. The two points of contact on the clamp were created in anticipation of the use of the brake to support a rider’s full body weight if they wanted to transfer in and out of it. Although this design allows for increased ease of use for riders and can be easily adjusted to different wheelchairs, it is important to note that the size of the brake clamp is not standard for every wheelchair frame. Our goal is that the design will be available in several standard sizes to match various wheelchair dimensions and will be available on all wheelchair order forms.

TransPharm. The overarching goal of this project is to develop a remotely place-able pharmaceutical dispenser for developing communities who do not have 24-hour access to over-the-counter medication. The intent is to create an easily accessible dispenser that anyone can use to quickly acquire otherwise easily attainable medication. There are many different requirements for our final design from the off-grid energy supply to enclosure and materials. Our proposal focuses on the design of the enclosure and dispensing mechanism. The scope of our project does not include specific solar energy integration although the energy requirements of the system will be within established solar technologies and size restraints. The exact dimensions of the enclosure will be determined through materials, insulation thickness, and cost. The enclosures main frame will be made out of readily available and relatively low cost 1-inch square T-slot aluminum. The outer shell is made out of panels of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is known to be a flexible yet rugged material with outstanding chemical and environmental stress crack resistance. The insulation for our design is moisture resistant polystyrene. The low cost and weight polystyrene is durable and resistant to environmental challenges the design will be subjected to. It is also commonly used in refrigerator walls, similar to our design objectives. The materials and dispensing mechanism are recommended in order to reduce cost, improve environmental impact, and maintain simplicity.

Industrial Equipment

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Motorized Caster for use in UMass Mullins Center. The motorized casters will allow for heavily loaded carts to be moved by a single person with relative ease and speed. The particular application of this design is the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst, where maintenance teams routinely must transfer large stacks of wooden/steel basketball flooring panels as they transition between hockey and basketball facility setups. The motorized casters in development are modular and replace the standard casters that are currently installed on the carts used by the maintenance team at the Mullins Center. In this application the motorized casters save time, money, increase safety, and decrease the stress associated with moving the heavily loaded carts. The four casters are controlled with a joystick controller that allows the end user to move carts without the need of assistance from others. The four casters on each cart will be powered by rechargeable batteries, preventing the need for a power plug. In the production model, four casters will be used, one in place of each of the four wheels in use on the current carts. For prototyping, the team fabricated one fully functional caster in order to meet time and budget requirements.

Industrial Pin Sorter. The result of this senior design project is a piece of industrial machinery for sorting pins of specified dimensions within a batch of mixed dimensions. U.S. Tsubaki currently loses a considerable number of pin batches due to cross-contamination of different sized timing pins. In order to minimize risk, batches that are found to have more than three mismatched pins are rejected entirely during quality assurance tests. The purpose of this project is to develop a machine to recover losses by removing all non-conforming pins from a rejected batch. The design consists of three subassemblies: the input and alignment mechanism, the measurement and analysis system, and the sorting mechanism. The input and alignment mechanism consists of a feed auger (1) which regulates bulk flow of pins to a v-trough (2) that axially aligns and feeds pins to a hose which inputs the pins to a precision alignment mechanism (3). Pins are released from the precision alignment mechanism and free fall, maintaining their vertical orientation, through a 2D optical micrometer (4) that simultaneously measures length and the diameter of the pins to a tolerance of 0.002mm. The measurements are analyzed by the sensor controller and reported to the main programmable logic controller (PLC). If the dimensions are correct, the solenoid air valve sorting mechanism sends a blast of air redirects the pin to the pass bin. The machine does not intervene with incorrectly dimensioned pins, allowing them to fall into the rejection bin.

Barrel Bot. The goal of this project is to improve and integrate existing proof-of-concept designs for an industrial robot that is able to move beer barrels around a warehouse. This robot, known as the Barrel Bot, will include a picking arm, suspension system, and propulsion system.

Donut Cart. The goal of this project was to improve the longevity, weight, and cost of ETM Manufacturing’s donut cart as well as to hone and improve important mechanical engineering fundamentals such as design, analysis, evaluation, and fabrication of products. This process was constrained by NSF International food safety standards, specifications determined by the Industry Sponsor (ETM Manufacturing), as well as time and resources. The project has been different than the typical design process in that it began with evaluation and analysis of a current donut cart and finished with design and fabrication. Through FEA and physical experimentation, along with working with a customer at the bakery and the Industry Sponsor, the team found that a design change could be made to the welds. Through further investigation the team found that an alternate weld configuration would improve strength in the cart by 25% and reduce the cost by at least 3%.

Bottle Filler. This project was a collaboration between the student design team and the UMass Amherst biotech startup, Treaty LLC. Treaty LLC produces FogKicker, a new anti­fog solution, superior to existing products. The objective of the project was to automate the filling and capping process for FogKicker. The prototype fills and caps the bottles, and can accommodate a removable cap feed. The device consists of a rotary table and automated filling and capping mechanisms. Each of the individual sub­assemblies are synchronized through mechanical linkages to a single motor. The machine is also equipped with a removable counting device to track production output. Beyond the basic functions, the machine is designed for optimal performance and lifetime. Components were fabricated from lightweight materials and the compact design reduces space consumption. Moving parts use low friction materials and self­lubricating bearings to reduce wear and increase efficiency. Safeguards were designed into the device prevent failures of complex and expensive components in the event of a jam or system malfunction. It is capable of filling and capping 20 bottles per minute with very precise volume control. The filling and capping processes are entirely automated and the machine only requires an initial priming for the fluid lines.

Concentricity Calibration Tool. The main goal of this design project is to create a device that will assist Quabbin Wire and Cable (QWC) in calibrating their concentricity measuring machines. Concentricity is defined as the closest distance the center of mass the wire is to the outside wall divided by the furthest distance the wire’s center of mass is from the outside wall. It is essentially a tolerance that is used to establish a certain zone in which is the median of points in a cylinder or sphere are located. QWC coats wire in massive quantities of several different diameters, which all need to have accurate concentricities. All of the wires that QWC coats need to meet certain concentricity requirements in order to properly function. QWC currently has a way to calibrate their concentricity measuring machines, but it is a time-consuming process.  Our finished project is a durable, dependable, and portable device that will allow QWC to calibrate their machines in less than an hour.

Centering Tool. The goal of this project is to develop a device which will increase the level of feedback and guidance given to Quabbin Wire & Cable Co. technicians as they make crosshead adjustments during the centering process. The feedback system will incorporate a high resolution laser displacement sensor attached to a floor mounted stand that will measure the orientation of the extrusion crossheads faceplate. The setup can be seen in Figure 1. The sensor will rotate around the axis of the extruded wire, yielding a displacement contour that can be used to determine the surface normal of the faceplate. This data will be used to render the crosshead in 3D such that the operator can visualize the relationship between bolt adjustments and crosshead placement. Rotation will be performed by using a stepper motor to drive a gear attached to a turret bearing. Due to the sensor’s extremely small measuring span, a translation track will be incorporated to allow the operator to move the entire assembly out of the way when data is not being collected.

Kinex Cappers. The goal of this project was to design a fully electric bottle capping machine for Kinex Cappers. Currently, Kinex Cappers offers customers a line of semi-automatic and automatic capping machines used for a wide range of capping operations. These capping machines mostly fill the middle ground between hand tightening and full assembly line operations. All of the machines that Kinex carries function in much the same way; They have a system to apply downward force in order to grip the cap and a separate system to provide the torque to tighten the cap. Most of the machines that Kinex has for sale utilize pneumatics for both of these aforementioned systems. The reason for this is that pneumatics actuate quickly, are cost effective and work consistently. This works well for many of the customers Kinex serves, however some customers do not have compressed air systems installed and wish to avoid installing them because of cost, noise, the possibility of air contamination, or various other reasons. Our project is being designed to fulfill the needs of these customers. Kinex does currently offer a model of capper that uses an electric motor to tighten caps for these customers, but the downward force is supplied by the operator through the use of a lever. This is tiring for the operator and due to this factor, it is currently one of the worst selling models that Kinex offers. We have used the current hand-actuated electric model as the base for our revised model and as such we have only redesigned the downward force system, as the system that provides the torque is sufficient. Our first semester prototype achieved this goal through the use of a set of levers with adjustable weights. The weights were lifted by a motor and pulley and then released providing the necessary downward force. While this prototype did technically meet the goals for our project, it was clear that a more elegant design was needed in order to be a professional, marketable product. We decided to abandon the lever and weight design to instead pursue a direct-drive downward force system with a motor attached to a cam from the older model to provide mechanical advantage. This new design achieves all of our original goals in a more elegant manner. It is our recommendation that Kinex implement this system as an alternative to their pneumatic and hand operated bench-top models.

Nikon Measurescope. Through the application of three Nema 17 Stepper motors, a linear stage actuator and key pieces of electrical engineering equipment, our team successfully converted the manual mechanical controls of the Nikon Measurescope into a digitally controlled system. By replacing the existing lead screws of both the X and Y axis, and then paring the motor shaft with a planetary gear system, the motor’s steps could control the slide by one fifth of a micron; five times the required minimum. The entire Z axis was removed and replaced with a motorized actuator capable of movements within ten microns. A platform assembly was machined to join with the actuator and hold the camera mount in place. Given the sensitivity of the resolution, several vibrational damping systems were kept such as maintaining the existing weight below the platforms and implementing a series of dampers beneath the stepper motors. Aside from the mechanical applications, the system was supplemented with an autofocus feature created from an outside party. This feature allowed for precision repetition through the use of a magnetic workpiece holding system and target aiming software. Lastly, the system was improved through the addition of a series of joysticks and LCD screening if manual controls are desired which operate on an exponential scale for maximum convenience.

Roll-to-Roll Measurement Device. The goal of this project was to develop and fabricate an accurate, precision-based measurement device for a Roll-to-Roll (R2R) printing machine to be used by Dr. Xian Du in the Intelligent Sensing Lab at UMass Amherst. In order for the printing process to run repeatedly without variance, all aspects of the machine must run accurately, however the principal component for the team to consider for this project were the rollers. The overarching concern with regards to the rollers are their parallelism in the horizontal and vertical planes. If the rollers are not parallel with each other, the printing web that they feed will perceive tension and can potentially tear or crawl along the rollers. If the rollers are not precisely placed into the vertical breadboard of the machine, any testing done cannot be considered accurate and any printing done will not be exact, leading to poor overall printing quality. In order to evaluate the rollers’ parallelism, a roller displacement measuring tool was conceived and produced. The team’s design solution focuses on measuring distances from each roller to a reference beam for horizontal deflection and measuring distances from each roller to one another for vertical deflection. This is done by inserting a 3D printed square roll-enclosure around each roller and using a caliper and caliper extension kit to mate with the enclosure device and measure to another roller or to the reference beam.

Environmental Initiatives

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P-Pedal Toilet Seat Lever. In today’s day in age, patrons can go an entire bathroom visit without touching anything- with the exception of the toilet seat. The P-Pedal assembly is a design that assists with the idea of a fully touchless bathroom, as instead of the user having to lift the seat manually, a pedal allows for the user to simply press and go. Through the use of a mechanical assembly, the P-Pedal transfers a force from the user’s foot in order to lift the toilet seat. Other main functions include: a spring descent assist- to avoid pinched fingers, an adaptable mount which allows for the use of the main design on any toilet, and a locking mechanism which locks the seat at the vertical position to ensure that the user is comfortable and not constantly exerting force.  

Rocket to Fixed-Wing Transforming Drone. The intent of this design project was to create a rapidly ascending, portable UAV for the US Forest Service and Fire and Aviation Management Services. We determined that this product would need to be both lightweight and portable while maintaining a similar form factor to competing market UAVs. Being that US Forest Rangers generally will be launching in heavily forested or obstructed areas, the device also had a secondary requirement to be able to launch vertically or near vertically to clear the tree line or other obstructions. Inspired by draco lizards, who can glide up to 200 feet, our design solution incorporates a ribbed airfoil frame which remains collapsed during ascent. Secondarily, this minimize the drag and pitching moments during the boost stage, while achieving the aforementioned design criteria. The transformation from boost to glide stage is triggered by a concussion burst following the engine burnout of a solid fuel propellant. A hinge mechanism then unfurls the ribs, which are covered in a lightweight fabric, via a passive spring mechanism. The profile of the wing allows for a greater average chord length, which is advantageous for increasing lift characteristics, without constraining the breadth of the wing to the length of the fuselage. The functioning prototype demonstrated that the folding mechanism responsible for the transition from horizontal to stable flight is a viable method for a portable, rapid ascent of an unmanned vehicle; upon deployment, the prototype did begin stable flight. However, the form factor and design may not fulfill the unnamed product specifications for the intended customer, i.e. there exist better alternatives for the boost stage outside of rocket propulsion. Going forward, this concept would be best suited marketed towards hobby enthusiasts or it would require scaling so that springs or bungees could replace the solid propellant boost stage.

Dispersion Drone. The goal of this project is to design an attachment for the Sprite drone which can disperse granular chemicals in-flight, and a base station to refill the attachments. This system would benefit the agriculture industry by reducing the manual labor required to disperse seeds, fertilizer, and other chemicals. The system is designed for the drone to leave the base station with a full payload stored in a magnetically affixed attachment. Using the drone’s autonomous flight app, it will be able to fly along a preprogrammed route, releasing the payload on command. Once the payload is depleted, the drone will return to the base station and fall into a catch system. Inside the station will be other attachments full of payload and stored in a rotating base. The catch system will lower the drone so that the current attachment sits in the rotating base. The empty attachment on the drone will then be rotated out from underneath and be replaced with a full attachment, attaching to the drone magnetically. The empty attachment will then be automatically refilled for future use. With a full payload, the catch system will raise the drone to an adequate height above the system to allow for takeoff. The drone will be ready for flight and able to repeat the process again. There are many potential features which could be incorporated into this project in the long term, such as the capability to swap out the drone’s battery, powering the base station with solar cells, and developing a wide variety of attachments for alternative uses. It is recommended that a communication system between the drone and base be added in order to increase the autonomy of the system. This will allow the system to function almost entirely independently.

Instrumented Beehive. The main goal for the year-long Instrumented Beehive project is to create and implement a sustainable temperature sensor network in the standard 10-frame beehive that provides data readings of the beehive to the customer. The goal of this design is to assist and replace the manual inspection from beekeepers and to provide data results during the on and off season of bees. Bees are a major factor in the successful flow of the ecosystem. The foundation of this design was derived from feedback from commercial beekeepers as the design needs to be well integrated into a hive and nonintrusive to the bees as bees are living creatures and volatile towards foreign objects in the hive. In the design, the network of 8 temperature sensors will be placed on an existing frame’s honeycomb foundation and the sensors are connected to the PCB in the housing, then all connected to the power/solar panel system. This design provides a planar temperature profile (i.e. XZ plane) in a 3D beehive. The frame is then connected to the housing where the microcontroller is and then connected to power supply that is outside of the beehive. The data is collected every 15 minutes (customizable by user) and the data is time and date stamped, stored locally, uploaded daily to the server through wifi, and provide a user-friendly website for the data analysis. Motion sensors are placed inside the housing to provide security and using the Twilio service, send real-time alerts for external security threats as well as abnormal internal beehive behavior, movement of the frame and low battery percentage. In conclusion, the proof of concept was success and the implementation into an existing hive was successful. Moving forward, the recommendations are to expand on the geometric planar temperature readings to a 3D temperature reading of the whole hive and to incorporate a heating system for the winter months, and exploration of connectivity server platform besides wif.

Carburetor Tuner. The carburetor tuner is a device aimed at reducing the environmental impact of internal combustion engines by improving performance, while also simplifying the customer experience. A carburetor is a fuel-delivery system which requires tuning as ambient conditions change year-round. This involves adjusting the air-fuel ratio. When out of tune, i.e. running rich or lean, the engine produces harmful emissions. Performance is improved by avoiding engine cut-out, overheating, excessive wear, and waste of fuel. The customer experience is simplified because carburetor tuning requires intuitive knowledge that, for the most part requires many years of prior experience. The tuner will use an oxygen sensor to read the air-fuel ratio in the exhaust. It will send this information to an Arduino which will instruct the user to adjust the carburetor air-fuel screw. The wand is comprised of temperature resistant materials so that the sensor can be placed into the exhaust. The wand clamps to the exhaust, and the handle uses high temperature silicone rubber so that the user can safely handle the device. The air-fuel ratio will display on the LCD, and the housing of the Arduino and display will provide instructions for how to accordingly adjust the air-fuel screw on the carburetor. In conclusion, the prototype met most target specifications, with all in allowable range. Testing confirmed that the device accurately reports AFR, though there are some desired modifications for production. This involves fabrication of pieces that would improve the safety and functionality of the product, and cost/size reduction measures.

Portable Microbial Water Sample Incubator. The goal of this project was to produce a portable microbial water sample incubator design that maximizes accessibility. This took into consideration aspects such as cost, material source, ease of assembly, and off-grid capabilities. The final product must be able to maintain a temperature of 35-37 ℃ to perform microbial water tests. It is paramount that a variety of samples can be accommodated by this design as well. To meet these stringent parameters, a design was conceived consisting of walls made of two sheets of an acrylic sandwiching a layer of insulation, fastened at the edges by aluminum L-brackets and screws. A battery pack and control unit are fastened to the right-hand side of the unit. A removable pane with a wire coil heating element and a TMP36 temperature sensor can be placed at the bottom of the frame and powered via a plug going through the side wall of the frame and connecting to the battery pack. Small L-brackets spaced 4 and 8 inches up from the bottom can support the placement of 1 or 2 shelves, depending on the intended sample quantity. As of the end of the semester, the deliverables include a completed circuit with the heating element integrated and an incubator prototype. The prototype is constructed of materials similar to the final design, with polystyrene insulation and acrylic inner and outer walls for rigidity. The team will continue to test the heating ability and accuracy of the unit, integrate the fans, and measure any unwanted heat gradient next semester. Moving forward, it is recommended that the team focus on off grid power supply and minimizing the cost-to-build of the incubator.

Recreational Products

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Telescoping Bicycle Carrier. Existing bicycle racks can be inconvenient or difficult to operate. This leaves plenty of room for an improved design that does not block or prevent any of the normal functions of the car it is mounted on and is easily operated by almost any user. The goal of the project was to improve on the existing roof style bicycle rack to allow for a more comfortable and safe loading position without limiting other functions of the car. The project design concept utilizes both existing vehicle crossbars and a bicycle carrier (mounting brackets) to integrate a desired track system. This track system allows the bike and rack to slide out and over the back of a vehicle to a position that is at a more accessible working height.

AutoTee: Self­Loading and Reloading Baseball Tee. The AutoTee is the combination of an auto­loading baseball tee, a stopping net, and a retrieval ramp. The AutoTee allows for a person to continuously practice hitting while never having to pick up baseballs or even leave the batter's box. The goal of the AutoTee is to save time and effort compared to hitting a bucket of baseballs off of a tee. The AutoTee is designed to be used by children in little league, all the way up to athletes in high school who are looking to train on their own. Simply using a tee requires the batter to clean up all of the balls, whereas the AutoTee stops and retrieves the baseballs for the user. The batter will hit the ball into the net, where it will drop onto an angled ramp, and be funneled down to a loading platform.

Teezee. The goal of this project is to develop and create a lightweight and portable system which can hold a bucket of golf balls and automatically load the golf ball onto the tee. The product has three aspects to it: the hopper, the body, and the lever. The Teezee was designed to meet the needs of everyday golfers who tire from constantly resetting golf balls on the tee after every practice shot. The golfer will be bringing their golf bag to many places so it must be durable enough to withstand the everyday wear and tear of the golf bag falling over onto the device. In order to meet these requirements the product must easily be able to disassemble and be reassembled.

Sheep Shelter. The sheep shelter was requested by the UMass Hadley Farm to be a low cost structure for use during summer months to provide shade and when needed contain herds of either sheep or goats. The shelter was to meet maximum width and height requirements for maneuvering around the farm while being long enough to contain a group of animals. The shelter must be able to be easily hooked up to the farm’s Gator tractor and towed by the Gator. The weight will be minimized such that a single farmhand can move the shelter without aid. The wheels will be actuated to place the frame on the ground to prevent sheep from getting under the frame. The modular design will also reduce the number of welds used near the sheep as they can tear through welds.  

American Eagle Tricycle Frame Redesign. This project was funded by American Eagle Cycles, a subsidiary of Berkshire Group, Ltd. The objective of this project was to redesign an adult tricycle marketed to consumers 55 years old and older by making it lighter, less expensive, easier to manufacture, easier to ship, and portable. The main focus of the redesign was to improve the frame by focusing on the aforementioned objectives. Subsequently, recommendations were made for improvements in steering, seat, and drivetrain design that would need to be changed because of modifications to the frame. The components that originally were contained within the frame, including steering and drivetrain, were moved outside, thereby allowing for a decreased cross sectional area of the frame and a decrease in frame weight. Additionally a hinge mechanism near the center of the frame allows for the frame to fold in half. This would make the tricycle easier to be shipped and easier for the rider to transport and store. The new frame design is 58.6% lighter than the original frame, and allows for the tricycle to fold into a shipping box volume that is 80% lower than the original.

The Zamini: The Personal Ice Resurfacer. The goal of the Zamini is to provide a product that will make ice resurfacing an affordable and seamless process for the average consumer, providing three key integrated functions in one compact footprint that is easy to use and transport. Unlike many do-it-yourself options that currently exist, the Zamini will not only dispense heated water to smooth ice, but heat the water and physically recondition ice before dispensing the water. The team was able to create a prototype that was able to successfully perform all functions and ultimately resurface ice at a quality level suitable for a recreational outdoor ice rink. This prototype was created with numerous recycled materials to meet budget constraints (under $200), with an estimated new cost of $700. The prototype is a proof of concept design for the functionality requirements of the product. Both the prototype and production design will utilize an automated fill and heat cycle to bring the water to an adequate temperature. Then the user manually pulls the unit across the ice to resurface. During this operation, debris is removed from the ice to recondition and hot water is applied to the ice in a thin layer to resurface. After testing the final prototype on the Mullins Center Practice Rink, a number of recommendations can be made. First, the skis used often would freeze to the ice, needing extra force to pull. Next, a more formal handle should be implemented, instead of tow rope, and include feedback control to the user, like the amount of water the device dispenses. Third, the unit may not need a resurfacing bar if used in personal backyard rinks, and could be sold as an added attachment. All of these features were corrected in the production CAD model.

Bousquet Snow Mountain Snow Gun Head. The team has redesigned a snow gun head to create snow at a higher temperature. This is critical to the mountain’s ability to stay competitive and create snow when other mountains cannot. This will attract more customers hence increasing their profits. In the process of redesigning a snow gun, there were three important factors that were considered which will assist in making snow at a higher temperature which are the minimizing the particle size of the water coming out of the nozzles, increasing hang time of the water, and increasing the particle collisions between feeder nozzle and atomizing nozzle. All of our design choices were made with these three factors in mind. The parts of the design the team has improved are: finer atomization, interaction between feeder and atomized water, and the orientation of the feeder nozzle and atomizing nozzle. For atomization, the team considered nontraditional methods of atomizing water such as using piezoelectric transducers, electrostatic atomization, centrifugal atomization. The team ultimately decided to improve the existing method of atomization which is to use compressed air due to the lack of proof of concept with all the other methods of atomization at large volumes and flow rates. After finalizing the method of atomization, the team worked on optimizing the type of nozzle chosen, the combination of atomizer and feeder nozzle, and the interaction between these nozzles. The team attempted to simulate the spray patterns on ANSYS Fluent with the help of BETE Fog Nozzles CFD engineers. However, the team was unsuccessful in creating an accurate spray pattern. Instead, the team built a prototype which was tested on Bousquet Ski Mountain. With the help of the operations manager, the team made improvements for better snow production. The final CAD model has three atomization nozzles, one feeder nozzle, and four water valves.


Electric Tricycle Wheel. Our sponsor had a vision when he first created the AEC Tricycle. He wanted a high quality reliable cycle that can be used by a wide range of demographics for leisure or necessary transport. Over the years his creation has become pigeon hold to an older generation because of its bulky and sluggish design. When we first met with Mr. Webster, he painted us a picture of the days when he used to ski, the adrenaline rush of speeding down a mountain and cutting corners without skipping a beat. With our performance electric assist and slip prevention we are bringing this exhilarating feeling back to the American Eagle Cycle. This performance upgrade will enable riders of variable sizes to achieve speeds of up to 25 mph, overcome some of the steepest graded hills with ease, and triple their normal riding distances. We have chosen to implement an 1800-watt brushless DC motor and a gear ratio of 13:1 in order to achieve the desired performance upgrades. The chosen motor will perform even under the worst conditions giving the rider an exhilarating experience. To achieve our calculated gear ratio, we decided to use a chain and sprocket configuration as it would be the most cost effective solution to our problem. We chose to use a two-stage reduction because the maximum reduction that is tolerable by chain and sprockets is 6:1. A two stage reduction also allowed us to keep the sprockets to a diameter where they would not protrude from the existing bike frame. The final design yielded results that exceeded our expectations. Riders of all weights were able to accelerate to 20 mph in 10 seconds, which was a top speed and acceleration that was not possible should the bike have only been pedaled. The prototype also reached speeds of up to 11 mph on the steepest (20% grade) hill climb that was feasible for riding scenarios. This was more than double our ideal value of 5 mph. Without the assist, none of our group members were able to ascend the 20-grade hill. In the end, the prototype was fully functional and certainly provided the thrill that our sponsor was looking for.

Anti-lock Brake System for Bicycles. The Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) prevents the wheels from locking to avoid uncontrolled skidding when braking and allows a faster, smoother stopping time due to the maintained traction. When the wheels on the bicycle lock, it 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. With disc brakes in focus and safety in mind, the project strives to eliminate the dangers associated with locked bicycle wheels, like the rider losing control and flying over the handlebars, during normal or emergency braking. The proposed design concept allows a force from the brake handles to be transmitted through a Variable Moment Arm (VMA), such that a range of forces from the force from the brake handles and essentially zero force can be transmitted to the brakes. This will allow the brakes to be engaged and disengaged as needed.

Snowboard Boot to Ski Binding Adapter. The goal of this project is to develop an alternative to currently available ski boots that makes skiing cheaper and more comfortable without compromising user safety or experience. The final design is an adaptive binding which interfaces between widely available snowboard boots and modern ski bindings, affording the user the comfort of a snowboard boot with the functionality of a ski boot. This design consists of a base structure and ankle support brace made out of ABS, as well as three fastening straps which secure the snowboard boot within the binding. The base adheres to the geometric requirements described by the ISO/DIS 5355 standard to ensure proper fit with all standard ski bindings. In accordance with maintaining standard applications of ski boots, ankle support and other general functionality of the boot must be up to par with existing ski boots. The three straps allow the design to be adjustable to shoes of different sizes, and also play the important role of securing the user to the binding. Future iterations of this project could focus on examining the large-scale manufacturability of this product and further increasing its compatibility with a wider variety of snowboard boots.


Entrepreneurial Prototypes:

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Solar Panel Pointing and Deployment Device. The purpose of this project is to provide a modular method of power generation using solar panel array for cube satellites (CubeSats). The modularity will allow for easy integration and low lead time for customers. The solar panel array will have the ability to reliably deploy after release and precisely track a light source in orbit and on mission. This ability will allow for an optimal power to mass ratio of the unit. Having an optimal power to mass ratio will allow for use of more electronics over a longer period of time in the payload.

Smart Phone Case. This senior design project encompasses the redesigning and fabrication of a smart phone case, which functions as a cigarette rolling platform, for the phone case company iRollie. The phone case has a detachable rolling platform that is equipped with a cover and functions as a storage compartment for discretion. The phone case has improved protection compared to its predecessor (iRollie first generation case); it should keep the phone intact from a 4 foot drop. The new iRollie case has a two part case with raised bezel and slightly thicker sides to accommodate for the ever needed protection, while eliminating the difficulty of taking the phone out of the case, which was an issue with the first generation iRollie. The design is discreet, protective, durable, functional and aesthetically acceptable.

Vacuum Cooler. The intent of this project was to add function to current market coolers. There are a variety of issues that can be directly addressed in coolers while increasing ice retention and advancing the competition’s product. The team envisioned this cooler while struggling with a typical problem of high end rotomolded coolers ­ warm air fills the chamber every time the cooler is closed and decreases in temperature, therefore lowering the pressure and making the lid impossible to open. This led to the thought to remove the air from the cooler completely upon closing, to solve the “vapor lock” issue described above through providing a user friendly mechanism to change the internal pressure. The concept the team designed is intended to limit the two major causes of ice melt in coolers ­ conduction through walls and convection from the warm air. To do this, the team created an interior plastic shell to minimize contact area with the walls and attached a pump to remove air and limit convective heat transfer when the cooler is closed. An iterative design approach was used based on an evolving understanding of the thermodynamics of coolers while balancing what the team is capable of creating within budget.  

Dining Hall Smart Chair. The goal of this project is to create a chair that can be reserved, provide data to UMass dining, and create a more efficient dining hall process. The design includes a photoresistor, an LED light strip, and an aluminum housing for the Arduino and other electronics that is attached to the side of the chair by a bracket. The device can used on any chair, so it can be used in other rooms for other applications as well. The chair is programmed to allow people to reserve the chair, indicate with the LED light if the seat is reserved or available, and collect data on when someone is sitting on the chair. This device will allow an improved dining experience for students, as well as assist the UMass dining management in understanding the general flow of people eating at the dining halls.  

Get a Grip. The goal of this Capstone Senior Design Project was to design and fabricate a device that will increase gripping strength for the everyday person that is inexpensive and can be used anytime, anywhere. The products currently on the market that do have this capability are either too large and bulky which make them too hard to use or are too expensive such that they are out of the price range of the average person. The engineering prototype is a smooth, easy to use device that equipped with an adjustability function allowing the user to continually improve their forearm strength and see their improvement day-to-day. The device functions using a single 360-degree left hand wound steel spring that provides resistance to the twisting motion of the user by the rotation of their wrist to work their flexor and extensor muscles within the forearm. The recommended user for this product is the average person who is looking to improve their grip strength, but the device can be adjusted by turning the cap of one of the handles which loads a resistance band used within the design to make the total resistance more difficult. Our major goals for the project were to develop a functional prototype that serves as a proof of concept of our idea and to design a device that would be professionally manufactured that would ultimately be brought to market by our sponsor.

EZ Pack Paintbrush. The goal of this project was to not only make traditional brush painting process easier, but also safer for painters of all skillsets. Currently, in order to paint using a paintbrush the painter must carry around a can of paint and repeatedly dip the brush into the paint. It was hypothesized that this process could be made easier and safer by making the painting process limited to one hand. The EZ Pack Paintbrush features a paint carrying container that is stored in a backpack in order to eliminate the need to carry around a paint can in one hand. The container, which is connected to the battery-powered air compressor in order to correctly pressurize the container, transfers paint to the paintbrush through a tube that connects to a one-way pump, delivering paint to the EZ Pack Paintbrush’s redesigned brush handle. The paintbrush handle has internal channels that allow the paint to be evenly distributed to the bristles through three smaller tubes connected to the brush handle within the bristles. With this system, paint can be carried on the back and pumped through the bristles with one hand, redefining the way traditional brush painting is performed. The EZ Pack Paintbrush should be used in all brush applicable painting situations to not only speed up the painting process, but also allow for the painter to stay safe and operate within OSHA ladder regulations.

Military Sand Mask. The goal of this project was to provide US military members that are stationed in desert climates with a safer alternative to the scarf used currently. With existing equipment, soldiers are at a risk for inhaling sand and dust particles as small as one hundred nanometers in diameter. Guided by the valued opinions of members of the UMass Army ROTC, our group worked to provide a sand filtering mask that eliminates the particulates soldiers would normally breathe in. The following objectives were set in order to achieve the overarching goal of the project: the mask must filter fine particulates, and the mask must remain durable and breathable at high temperatures. After outlining the mission of the project, our group completed a design process consisting of six prototypes in order to produce the optimal design. The selected final design included the following design decisions: ladder buckles to ensure a full seal of the mask, wicking foam along the inside of the mask to reduce facial heat, 5µ steel mesh to effectively filter sand particles, filter inserts that are removable, washable, and replaceable, a one way valve to increase breathability, filter shields to bolster durability, and a halo strap design for comfort. Along with these design features, TPU plastic was selected for the mask following ANSYS simulation due to its flexible behavior; this enables the mask to resist failures related to strap stresses. Athletic testing, coupled with tests using flour, reaffirmed that the final design filters sand-like particles properly and allows for sufficient air flow (ensuring breathability). As later discussed in the recommendations section, the final mask design offers an extremely promising starting point for a product that may eventually be patented.

Easy Lock. With the recent rise of rapid prototyping, two students from University of Massachusetts Amherst came up with the idea of integrating facial recognition into a door lock to make unlocking a door physically keyless. The scope of this project is to assist them by designing, fabricating, and testing a prototype that fully encapsulates the required components to open and close an existing deadbolt by using your face as the key. Our design is a seamless integration of the deadbolt, motor, gearbox, and electrical components into a universal system that is efficient and durable. Part of the electrical system is a Raspberry Pi to control all of the components. It is within our best interest for the product that we recommend in a future design that a smaller, more efficient microcontroller is used to conserve on space, battery life, and cost. To minimize more space, we also recommend that a custom lithium ion battery without an external housing is implemented inside the case with an accompanying cover.

Auto H2O. Based on the sponsor request, our team has devised and prototyped a device used to cool water for human consumption while operating a motor vehicle. Design conception was based around criteria such as ease of use and manufacturing, cost limitation, power capabilities, cooling time, and safety during operation. Peltier plates were decided upon as a reasonable method for in-line cooling, the preferred method due to power consumption, and aluminum “water blocks” were cooled using the plates, at which point water would flow through the blocks, causing cooling. Crude testing apparatuses were then constructed to refine design until a form of in-line cooling and recirculating system was found. Tests showed temperature drop was drastic enough and close enough to the goal value to warrant this design. Heat dissipation was also low enough in an enclosed space to justify device operation as safe. In this case, data showed ambient temperature had a significant impact on the cooling time of the water. Due to this limitation, a crossflow of exterior air to the enclosure was constructed using fans from non-functioning Peltier plates.