Monthly Archives: December 2015

Brethren Armament logoTop image: Two people place a horse's hoof on a sensor plate. Bottom image: A man kneels to place a laptop in a padded case.By the time Engineering Design Team 1414 delivered the Advanced Farrier System, or AFS, to Design Day 2015, its sponsor, Brethren Systems, had already filed for a patent.

The low-cost, portable device, which uses sensor data to measure hoof pressure and dimensions, is designed for early detection of lameness and disease and to ensure a horse’s shoes fit correctly.

The project, which was based on technology that analyzes tire treads, not only moved along at a fast clip, it also caught the eye of judges, who rewarded the team’s outstanding work with the Sargent Aerospace and Defense Voltaire Design Award and the Edmund Optics Perseverance and Recovery Award.

The sponsor’s intensive involvement was a big part of their recipe for success.

Sponsor Quinn McIntosh was also a team member, providing expertise as a mechanical engineering major alongside biomedical engineering seniors Lindsay Bahureksa and Lindsey Conklin, systems engineering student Matt Ellison, optical sciences and engineering student Jacob Landsiedel, and electrical and computer engineering major Jovan Vance.

“The fact that we could talk to our sponsor about modifications right away and he could make decisions instantly was great,” said Conklin.

Here is how the AFS works: When a horse steps on the system’s film, differences in color represent pressure points on the hoof. The system then analyzes the impression data to identify potential foot maladies and provide individualized guidelines for horseshoeing.

McIntosh sees potential applications in veterinary medicine and the horse-racing industry.

“The Engineering Design Program gave me access to resources unavailable to a private entity, including the fantastic and diverse experts I needed to develop a product and actually bring it to market,” he said.

Portrait of Gerald Pine
Portrait of Gerald PineGerald Pine, who has been coaching students in the UA Engineering Design Program for the last nine years, is all about instilling confidence in students about to enter the workforce.

“Every year, the teams are surprised by their accomplishments, and their successes surprise us, the mentors, as well. It’s such a confidence builder for the students to see the results when they learn to work together, particularly with teammates from other disciplines.”

Pine brought 28 years of industry experience – and boundless energy – to the program when he joined in 2006, much to his mentees’ benefit. An MIT graduate with a PhD in nuclear engineering, he held positions at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and natural gas research institutions before founding his own consulting company. At the University of Arizona, he has served as a lecturer for Interdisciplinary Engineering Design (ENGR 498) and Engineering Component Design (AME 324B). Each year he mentors six or seven capstone design teams.

Things have changed since Pine earned his degrees, but, he said, the value of engineering design projects is timeless.

“My capstone course was only one semester long, with a paper design, and it was not interdisciplinary. Even so, I served as an industry adviser for that program during the ’80s and saw how rewarding it was. The UA Engineering Design Program teaches students what it’s like to work real jobs and bridges their years of coursework with industry.”