Monthly Archives: July 2016

Team 15050 - Aircraft Engine Bleed Air Contamination Detection System

Project Title: Aircraft Engine Bleed Air Contamination Detection System

Honeywell logoTeam 15050 Members:
Erika Balbas, systems engineering
Zachary Fier, mechanical engineering
Qichao Hu, mechanical engineering
Joshua Johnston, electrical and computer engineering
Jeffrey Mrkonich, biomedical engineering
Hao Yuan, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell Aerospace

Design helps prevent harm to aircraft components, flight crews, passengers

Team 15050 - Aircraft Engine Bleed Air Contamination Detection SystemPassengers on cross-country flights aren’t typically thinking about air from engine bleed. But that air is important. It is used for air conditioning and pressurizing the cabin.

Bleed air comes directly from the engine before jet fuel is added. It’s at high temperature and high pressure. And, said mechanical engineering senior Zack Fier, it can be dirty air.

More specifically, engine bleed air can contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that are harmful to aircraft components, the flight crew and passengers. Team 15050’s mission: develop a system that detects VOCs before they reach dangerous levels.

The Honeywell Aerospace-sponsored interdisciplinary group set out to accomplish two things. First, their system had to cool the air enough for the contaminant detection sensor to handle it. Secondly, the sensor had to make measurements and deliver real-time data to an easy-to-read user interface.

The resulting interface illuminates a green LED when VOCs are within safe levels. An orange LED gives the danger signal, which means that it’s time for the cockpit crew to vent the engine bleed air into the atmosphere.

Since the team couldn’t land an aircraft on the UA Mall or present a live demo of a jet engine at work for Design Day, the students found a low-tech alternative.

Their idea was based on the knowledge that jet engines aren’t the only producers of VOCs. Humans do it too, with every exhaled breath.

Systems engineering senior Erika Balbas and her teammates had visitors blow into a tube, and the demo detection system went to work with a laptop readout showing the VOC levels rising rapidly, but not to harmful levels.

The team concluded that their prototype could potentially be produced by Honeywell for use in aircraft, and the students’ research was described in an invention disclosure.

Project Title: Toilet Leak and Flood Prevention

QuakeWrap Inc. logoTeam 15043 Members:
Matthew Britton, systems engineering
Ian Carmichael, electrical and computer engineering
Eliza Dawson, mechanical engineering
Diego Morales, mechanical engineering
Derek Strickland, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: QuakeWrap Inc.

Intellectual curiosity motivates UA emeritus professor

Mo EhsaniThe reasons companies sponsor senior design teams are as varied as the projects themselves. Topping the list are exploring new technologies, reviving back-burner projects, benefiting from UA campus facilities and faculty expertise, and auditioning future employees.

For Mo Ehsani, PhD, PE, and his brother-in-law, Masoud Ghalambor, MD, sponsorship of a 2016 project was a personal thing. And it exemplified the essence of engineering: identifying a common problem and designing a simple solution that works.

Ehsani, a UA professor emeritus of civil engineering, is the founder and president of Tucson-based QuakeWrap. The company develops, manufactures and installs fiber-reinforced polymer products to repair and strengthen buildings and pipelines. Ghalambor is an orthopedic surgeon in Sacramento, California, who also holds BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering.

But the QuakeWrap-sponsored project didn’t come close to structural repair – or surgery. It was all about a simple, low-cost way to prevent toilet leaks and possible floods.

“We both had experienced large water bills due to leaky toilets and wanted to find a solution to eliminate water waste,” said Ehsani.

So the student team developed a battery-powered automatic shutoff that limits loss to one tankful of water if the water runs for longer than expected, indicating there is a leak.

While the Toilet Leak and Flood Prevention project does not signal QuakeWrap’s entry into the household plumbing fixtures market, the team’s work is protected by a provisional patent application, and Ehsani may pursue the product as a commercial venture outside of QuakeWrap.

“People tell me that they wish they had something like this,” he said.

Andrew Werchan shows the Nasogastric Tube Placement Verification System sensor tip and digital readout monitor showing incorrect insertion.

Project Title: Nasogastric Tube Placement Verification System

Xeridiem logoTeam 15024 Members:
Christopher Gallo, biomedical engineering
Summer Garland, biomedical engineering
Nathaniel Husband, biomedical engineering
Gary Tyree, biomedical engineering
Hang Van, systems engineering
Andrew Werchan, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Xeridiem

Students create cost-effective, easy-to-use medical device

Andrew Werchan shows the Nasogastric Tube Placement Verification System sensor tip and digital readout monitor showing correct insertionHospital patients recovering from illness or surgery who cannot feed themselves rely on nasogastric, or feeding, tubes. Traditionally, inserting a feeding tube has been a lot like flying blind. The tube can end up in the lungs instead of the stomach, sometimes resulting in serious injury – or death.

Hospitals can verify correct tube placement via a chest X-ray or a stomach pH test, but these test are costly.

Team 15024 has come to the rescue with a working prototype of a cost-effective, easy-to-use device that gives instant feedback on placement.

A sensor, responsive to an open circuit that is closed by stomach acid ions, threads inside the feeding tube and is connected to a digital readout display box.

When the circuit closes, the digital display box chirps and shows the message, “Placement good! Tube safe to use.” When the tube is threaded into the lungs, the circuit stays open. No chirping display box, nothing but silence. The readout says, “Warning! Not safe to use!”

Getting to the finish line wasn’t easy for the team, but their perseverance paid off.

Christopher Gallo said team members came up empty in the hunt for inexpensive – $10 to $20 – sensors, so they added sensor fabrication to their resumes.

In fact, developing the successful prototype took 36 tries, but the team wasn’t fazed.

“That’s research!” said Summer Garland.

The team’s solution to a tough patient care problem earned two first-prize awards at UA Engineering’s 2016 Design Day – $1,000 for Best Presentation and $1,000 for Innovation in Engineering. The awards were funded by Rincon Research Corp. and Ventana Medical Systems, respectively.

The team was also invited to present their work at the 2016 Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio, in early June, joining engineering capstone teams from across the nation.

The project has led to three provisional patent applications, and Tucson-based sponsor Xeridiem, a contract medical device manager, may file for full patent protection. The company also plans to bring the project back during the 2016-2017 Engineering Design Program for further refinements.

As for members of Team 15024, their plans include finishing UA undergraduate work, starting graduate school and medical school, and beginning jobs as engineers.