Mechanical engineering seniors deliver final design presentations
University of Delaware mechanical engineering students discuss their projects.
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8:11 a.m., Jan. 6, 2009----Sixteen teams of senior design students in the University of Delaware's Department of Mechanical Engineering delivered final presentations on their semester-long projects at Clayton Hall on Dec. 12 to an audience of sponsors, review panelists, faculty, staff, students and parents.

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All of the projects address real industrial problems posed by sponsors, with this year's work ranging from development of a tepid-water safety shower system to design of a low-cost photovoltaic module mounting system. The reviewers consider three criteria in their assessment: design synthesis, resource/project management, and communication.

The senior design class is advised and coordinated by Nate Cloud, a 1964 University of Delaware mechanical engineering graduate, and professors James Glancey, Robert Hartman and Michael Keefe.

Review panelists included 1965 alum Peter Cloud, former president and general manager of several of Astra Zeneca's Specialty Chemical Businesses; Scott Davidson, president of MechPro Engineering; Bill Fagerstrom, independent consultant and instructor of the manufacturing course in mechanical engineering at UD; Ed Gargiulo, senior staff engineer with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics; Ken Paulsell, former mechanical systems development manager at DuPont; Peter Popper, former researcher with DuPont and now vice president of Peacock Sales; and Shawn Riley, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees at UD in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and is now an engineering associate with Gore Filtration Products.

Pete Cloud said he was impressed with what the students do in senior design compared to the projects his class completed 43 years ago. “The scope is up by a factor of ten,” he said. “I think that's largely because of the industrial involvement we have now, which gives students a tremendous idea of what their jobs will be like. They have patents and job offers before they even graduate. They also get a good idea of what it's like to deal with organizational bureaucracy. It's not always a straight path from research and development to production.”

Riley, who entered the workplace just 10 years ago, observed that the biggest difference between then and now lies in the tools. “We didn't get into such complex designs when I was in senior design,” he said. “The software available now enables students to get immediate feedback as to whether their design will work or fail.”

Machinist Steve Beard, who helps many of the senior design teams create prototypes, attends the ME senior design presentations every year to see all of the work come to fruition. “This is my first chance to see the actual products instead of just parts of them,” he said. “I really enjoy working with the students -- they're very bright and highly motivated.”

For Nate Cloud, the biggest challenge as the number of students in the class grows each year is getting enough projects. “It will be tough in this economic climate,” he said, “but I continue to be amazed at the students and what they accomplish -- they get better every year.”

The following companies sponsored projects in the 2008 program:

  • Air Liquide - Development of a process to automate a flow-setting machine.
  • CNH America - Development of an improved protective curtain for disc mowers.
  • GE Energy - Design of a low-cost frameless photovoltaic module mounting system for large-scale PV systems.
  • George Products - Improvement of the design, functionality, and machine capabilities of the company's Optical Automatic Smart Inspection System (Oasis).
  • ILC Dover - Design, development, and fabrication of a buckle loading machine for production of the M40 Gas Mask.
  • John Crane - Development of a mobile workstation for use in repairing large mechanical seals.
  • NER Data - Design and development of a cold-aisle containment system for data centers.
  • Schiller-Pfeiffer - Design, development, and fabrication of a novel transmission design that can be used with a variety of engines.
  • Scientific Products - Development of a cost-effective way to measure particle suspensions using a fluid cell coupled to the company's pump systems.
  • Siemens - Analysis and improvement of a sealing system.
  • Southco - Design and demonstration of a system to measure friction and wear characteristics of friction hinge devices.
  • Speakman - Development of a tepid-water safety shower system.
  • Super Critical Fluids - Development of a new and innovative way to deliver bulk liquid carbon dioxide to the company's equipment.
  • Survice Engineering - Improvement of the set-up and use of the company's iGPS laser-based metrology system vector bar .
  • Terumo Cardiovascular Systems - Improvement of the production line that delivers the company's Capiox oxygenator, a life-sustaining device that serves as the lungs during open heart surgery.
  • W.L. Gore - Design and fabrication of a roll re-winder system.

The Terumo team -- consisting of Thomas Craig, Michael Giuliano, Ronit Lilu, Chase Ross, and Katelyn Staley -- ultimately won top honors but not without serious competition from the 15 other teams.

“All of the teams received very high evaluations this year,” said Nate Cloud, “but the Terumo project was selected number one by a close margin over the others.”

Article by Diane Kukich
Photo by Ambre Alexander