Category Archives: Featured Projects

Project Title: Microfluidic System for Determination of Platelet Stiffness

Team 18071 Members:
Patarajarin Akarapipad, biomedical engineering
Courtney Comrie, biomedical engineering
Sean Copeland, biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering
Cody Thivener, biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering
Benjamin Weiss, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

Courtney Comrie, Patarajarin Akarapipad, and Cody Thivener perform photolithography for their microfluidic chips.

Portable, Accessible Point-of-Care Device

Many medications and implantable medical devices come with side effects. Some affect the mechanical properties of platelets in the blood, leaving people susceptible to clots when their cells are stressed. Because blood clots can lead to heart attack and stroke, medical researchers sometimes need to determine the stiffness of cells such as platelets to minimize these risks.

They do this through dielectrophoresis, a process that deforms cells by subjecting them to electricity. Scientists then use imaging technology to see how much the cells deformed at specific voltages and to determine their thickness.

“The stiffness of the cell is a determinant of whether the platelet becomes activated and then leads to blood clots,” said Dr. Marvin Slepian, associate head for clinical and industrial affairs in the UA Department of Biomedical Engineering and sponsor of five 2018-19 Engineering Design Program projects. “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a point-of-care device that could measure the change in individual cell stiffness right as the patient goes through the experience?”

Zapping Platelets for Diagnostics and Research

Team 18071 is creating a compact cell deformation system that can subject platelets to dielectrophoresis to cause deformation, image the deformation and ultimately determine the thickness of the cells.

“It has a lot of potential in diagnostics, but a lot of potential is also in research,” said team lead Courtney Comrie. “If you’re researching a new medical device or a new medication, you can see how it affects platelets.”

Current dielectrophoresis machines take up entire sections of laboratories, but the team is scaling the device down and making it portable. At just over a foot tall and just under a foot wide, it’s designed to fit easily on a lab bench. The device will also display data on a regular smartphone screen.

“We’ll have an attachment that will hold the phone in place so it can look through the microscope at the right angle,” Comrie said. “We want to use the smartphone camera directly. It’s very accessible – everyone has one.”

Taking Their Research on the Road

Slepian suggested the team gain experience submitting and presenting their research. So, not only did they submit a summary and present at the UA College of Medicine’s 2019 Data Blitz in February, but they’re also in the process of applying to the ASAIO’s 65th annual conference as part of the organization’s young innovators initiative. With their initial proposal accepted, they’re working on a final report for the conference’s 7th annual student design competition.

“It’s been positive seeing our effort actually work and reaping the benefits,” Comrie said. “I think it’s been a good experience to put in these applications to these conferences. It’s validating the work we’re doing.”

Learn more about the project, and the team’s progress, at Engineering Design Day 2019 on April 29.

A man and a woman adjusting a replica of a skeletal foot inside a machine.

Project Title: Robotic Gait Simulator

Team 18077 Members:
Miguel Angel Osorio, mechanical engineering
Michael Polenick, electrical and computer engineering
Olivia Talarico, biomedical engineering
Harrison Thurgood, mechanical engineering
Genevieve Wahlert, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

A man and a woman adjusting a replica of a skeletal foot inside a machine.

Dr. Daniel Latt and Olivia Talarico operate a robotic gait simulator.


Robotic Foot Walks Implant Design Toward Real-World Application

Surgical implants can vastly improve patients’ quality of life, allowing people with damaged joints to walk, for example. But before surgeons perform the procedures to place these implants in humans, they need to understand how the implants will operate in the context of a walking, working limb.

“It’s not just taking a cadaver limb and applying body weight load to it,” said Dr. Daniel Latt, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. “All the other tendons in the foot impact the force on the foot, so it’s important to create a realistic model of it.”

That’s exactly what he’s asked Team 18077 to do, in a continuation of the project he sponsored during the 2017-2018 school year. This year’s team created a more realistic model by including more tendons – adding three to the original design’s four – and incorporating a treadmill into the setup to create a more natural sense of movement. The actuators, or the parts of the device responsible for movement, can move more quickly and handle a heavier load. The final version of their project will involve an actual cadaver foot.

This is Latt’s fifth year sponsoring an Engineering Design Program project, and he enjoys reaping the benefits of an interdisciplinary team.

“We want to involve biomedical engineering students in the lab,” he said. “And usually I choose projects that have various components – a mechanical component, an electrical component, a systems component. It makes people reach outside their inherent discipline.”

Measuring Sole Signals

The students agree that this multidisciplinary project has been an excellent learning experience. Most have a biomedical or mechanical engineering background, and the project has a large electrical engineering element.

“If you think about it from a biological standpoint, what controls your limbs?” said Michael Polenick, the team’s only electrical and computer engineering major. “Electrical and mechanical signals.”

The team is focused on creating a device that imitates walking as accurately as possible. By carefully documenting their work, they hope to leave next year’s team with enough information to simulate running, hopping or squatting.

At Engineering Design Day on April 29, they plan to show a video of a model foot “walking” on a treadmill and wearing shoes equipped with insoles that measure force. A screen will display the data, including a red spike each time the heel strikes the ground.

“I chose this project because, well, who doesn’t want to make a robotic foot?” Polenick said.

Project Title: Additive Manufacturing Process and Dimensional ControlHoneywell logo

Team 18014 Members:
Juan Carlos Martinez, mechanical engineering
Zachary Minnick, industrial engineering
Zachary Ondrejka, mechanical engineering
Lucas Stolberg, materials science and engineering
Morgan Victoria Swanson, materials science and engineering
Kathleen Van Atta, material sciences and engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell Aerospace

Team 18014 is working on mitigating distortions in 3D-printed parts with Honeywell. Front row, left to right: J.C. Martinez and Morgan Swanson. Back row, left to right: Zach Minnick, Lucas Stolburg and Zach Ondrejka.


Honeywell Aerospace is one of the most loyal partners of the UA Engineering Design Program, having supported more than 70 projects in the last 11 years, including 12 in the 2018-2019 academic year alone – the most projects a single company has sponsored throughout the life of the program and in a single year.

For one of those projects, Team 18014 is making a turbine blade using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, using metallic materials on a Honeywell-owned advanced 3D printer. Creating parts layer by layer allows engineers to produce complex designs quickly and at low cost compared to traditional manufacturing methods. With modern 3D printers, many printed parts are usable directly for their intended function even in demanding conditions.

“Within the additive manufacturing industry, especially with metal printing for aerospace applications, the geometry of parts can be quite complex,” said mechanical engineering major Zach Ondrejka. “This offers a lot of benefits, but one of the big drawbacks is controlling distortions when printing parts.”

Down With Distortions!

The team’s project is centered on accounting for these distortions, caused by heating, melting, solidification and cooling during additive manufacturing. Their goal is to make sure their final product comes within 0.005 inches of the dimensions and geometry of their design parameters.

“When you print it, it’s not going to conform to the exact geometry of the design,” said Suresh Sundarraj, one of Team 18014’s corporate sponsors. “The team’s job is to figure out what we need to do on the simulation side to compensate for these distortions. How closely can they achieve the design as in the original CAD file?”

The team started by running simulations of how the blade would turn out if printed at different orientations – does turning the design on its side so that a different feature prints first reduce distortion? Though they knew from their research to expect deviations, they were surprised by just how much the printed part deformed after cooling – up to 0.036 inches at some points.

Sundarraj advised the team at a meeting: It’s more important to achieve the end goal than the plan. Have a flexible plan, make sure everyone knows how to use the software on their own and watch the simulations as they’re running to see where distortions start to occur.

The team members chose the project because 3D printing is one of today’s fastest-developing and most promising manufacturing methods. Ondrejka learned in one of his classes about how 3D printing could improve the efficiency of engines in the aerospace industry by allowing the manufacture of turbine blades with built-in cooling networks, for example.

“Additive manufacturing is pretty much the next step for manufacturing, because it gives you so much customizability,” said team lead and industrial engineering major Zachary Minnick. “Metal 3D printing is fairly rare to see, so I was really interested to dive into that.”

A Staunch Supporter

Honeywell’s partnership with the University of Arizona continues to grow: The company is also donating a 3D printer to the College of Engineering this summer for future use by students and the Engineering Design Program. Come and see the results of Team 18014’s experimentation – and the other 11 Honeywell teams – at Engineering Design Day 2019 on April 29.

Project Title: Dynamic Bioreactor for Engineered Cartilage Tissue

Team 18066 Members:
Dallas Altamirano, biomedical engineering
Efren Barron, biomedical engineering
Sam Freitas, biomedical engineering
Xinyi Gu, electrical engineering
Danielle Larson, biosystems engineering
Trinny Tat, biomedical engineering

Project Title: Virtual Reality System for Realistic Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Training

Team 18072 Members:
Hannah Bergeron, biomedical engineering
Jesse Gilmer, electrical and computer engineering
Gisselle Gonzalez, biomedical engineering
Brianna Hudson, biosystems engineering
Miguel Peña, biomedical engineering
Jimmy Tran, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

A woman wearing a virtual reality headset kneeling over a CPR practice dummy.

Hannah Bergeron of Team 18072 tests their design of a virtual reality CPR training system.


Gore’s Long History With the College of Engineering

W.L. Gore & Associates has been a longtime friend of the College of Engineering. They sponsored Engineering Design Program projects for many years, and also sponsor the W.L. Gore & Associates prize for the most creative solution at Design Day. The company has made an annual gift since the 2013-2014 academic year to subsidize biomedical engineering capstone projects, and sponsors the freshman-year Solar Oven Throw Down.

“We feel that supporting things that enhance the student experience is really important,” said Ryan Gapp, current Gore college champion for the UA and a 2014 graduate of the university’s biomedical engineering program. “One of the things we really like is that this program focuses on the design effort in a team. At Gore, we generally work in small teams of about five to 10 people. By supporting this, we’re hoping the students get more of those skills that make them ready for the workplace — not just at Gore, but at other companies too.”

Teams 18066 and 18072, both working on biomedical projects that exemplify Gore’s values of teamwork, strong communication and creative problem-solving, are just two examples of the student groups the company’s gift supports.

Team 18066’s dynamic bioreactor for engineered cartilage tissue.

Cartilage Cats

When cartilage in the human body is damaged, it doesn’t grow back. Scientists are investigating how to replenish lost cartilage through stem cells, or undifferentiated cells that haven’t developed a specific purpose. However, cartilage grown from stem cells isn’t as strong as cartilage in the human body because it’s not used to supporting weight. Team 18066 is developing a bioreactor that will place a load on the stem cells while they are developing into cartilage cells.

“Applying the load helps the stem cells choose to turn into cartilage cells, rather than something like a muscle cell,” said team lead and biomedical engineering major Dallas Altamirano. “It helps them align and interconnect like fibers with firmer membranes, so if you were to put the cells into a person, they would be used to feeling those loads.”

The team went through several designs before they found one that most closely replicated the way weight is borne by living tissue, and one of their biggest challenges has been determining how to measure strain on the tiny scaffolds that are host to the stem cells. But the team says the challenge is worth it.

“This is beneficial for basically anyone who has cartilage damage, whether it’s from disease or trauma,” Altamirano said.

Learning CPR in VR

Though CPR can be lifesaving, it has to be performed correctly to be effective. Team 18072 is developing a virtual reality system paired with a physical CPR dummy that will provide feedback to users on their CPR techniques.

“We envision that the device will have a training mode where you go through all the steps you would in a CPR class, like checking for responsiveness, checking a subject’s breathing and calling 911 or making sure someone else does,” said biomedical engineering major and team lead Gisselle Gonzalez. “Then, you go through compression simulation and have a debrief where you get feedback.”

They’re basing the system’s standards as closely as they can on the American Heart Association’s standards of 2- to 2.4-inch-deep chest compression at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute. Integrating a real-life CPR mannequin into the virtual reality system has been a challenge, as has creating software that can track hand movements to within 0.1 inches.

“This has a lot of potential to help a lot of people,” said biomedical engineering major Hannah Bergeron. “And I’ve never touched Leap Motion, the VR software we’re using, in my life. It’s been a good challenge to learn how to code.”

Team 18004 is developing a greenhouse SMART watering system for Bayer.

Recruiters take notice of University of Arizona engineering graduates – and one of the reasons is the know-how seniors gain through their capstone design projects.

On Aug. 23, 2018, students met with representatives looking for the right team to develop projects that parallel real life at the design program’s annual open house. More than 85 of those projects will be on display at this year’s Design Day in the Student Union Ballroom and on the UA Mall.

Plan to join us April 29 for Engineering Design Day 2019! Contact us for details about how to attend.

Project Title: Mounted-Gemstone Weight Calculating Device

Team 18002 Members:
Ludovico Borghi, electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences and engineering
Emily Elizabeth Calara English, biosystems engineering
Matthew Heger, electrical and computer engineering
Meghan Elizabeth Ryterski, mechanical engineering
Chengyu Zhu, materials science and engineering

Sponsor: The RealReal

An Invaluable Method for Accurate Gem Measurement 

Reselling pieces of jewelry involves measuring the gemstones mounted in them to determine their worth, a process currently done by hand with tools like calipers and millimeter gauges. This means the measurement of a jewel can vary from one business to the next, depending on the skill of the person doing the assessment.

When it comes to valuable gems like diamonds, even very small differences in measurement can lead to huge differences in appraised value. The RealReal — the largest retailer of luxury consignment goods, including jewelry, in the United States — is partnering with the Engineering Design Program and asking students to build a mounted-gemstone weight calculating device to minimize the potential for inconsistent appraisal.

“It’s something that had never been done before in our industry: creating an instrument to identify the carat weight of gemstones in a mounted piece of jewelry without unmounting it,” said Loretta Castoro, master gemologist at The RealReal and the team’s industry mentor.

“We come across pieces every day that are brought to us, and when we measure them and calculate their weight, it will be totally different from the appraisal.”

Step Aside, Ocean’s 8, for Desert’s 5

The RealReal project team.

The students plan for the new device to take photos of the mounted gemstone from multiple angles and use the photos to create a 3D image of the entire gem, including the parts covered by mounting. A simple software interface will allow users to select the gem type — for example, ruby or diamond — and the software will calculate the stone’s carat weight according to its density.

Team lead Meghan Ryterski said she was drawn to the project because it was an opportunity to learn how to use new technology — and it sounded cool and heist-y to her.

“I don’t know if you saw ‘Ocean’s 8,’ but we’re basically doing exactly what they did in the movie for our project,” she said, smiling.

Mentor Brings RealReal to Program, Makes X-ray Problems Transparent

The initial project proposal suggested the students use lidar technology to create the system, but the team is exploring other options as well.

While their college mentor, Bob Messenger, provides priceless expertise in mechanical engineering and project management, geosciences professor Bob Downs has been another invaluable resource. For example, when the team briefly considered using X-ray to measure the gems, he had the gemology knowledge to let them know why it wouldn’t work: X-ray could change the color of the stones.

Downs first met some of The Real Real’s representatives at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, one of the gem industry’s biggest events, and was impressed by their mission.

“There are incredible problems that this company wants to solve that are extremely academically oriented,” he said. “The community’s problems are exactly the same as ours in academia.”

The RealReal is endowing a professorship in the Department of Geosciences, but they also wanted to get involved more directly with students. Downs, who has two sons in the College of Engineering, suggested the Engineering Design Program. It’s been a huge success so far.

“I love the team,” Castoro said. “They’re absolutely amazing. It’s been a pleasure to work with the university and the students.”

Project Title: Grasshopper Harvester

Team 18025 Members:
Savannah Marie Brown, biosystems engineering
Weicheng Li, mechanical engineering
Devin Patrick Murphy, biomedical engineering
Sean Rowlands, mechanical engineering
Hannah Grace Whetzel, mechanical engineering
Cooper Austin Wynn, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Entomology

Project Title: Robotic Weeding Machine for Leaf Lettuce CropsUA Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering logo

Team 18029 Members:
Mark Jendrisak, biosystems engineering and mechanical engineering
Eunmo Kang, optical sciences and engineering
Connor John McCoy, biosystems engineering
Jesus Rene Nevarez, electrical and computer engineering
Tristan Stevens, biosystems engineering
Damian Willer, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biosystems Engineering

Two UA faculty members are sponsoring senior design projects that lie at the intersection of engineering expertise and agricultural applications.

From left to right: Savannah Brown, Cooper Wynn, Weicheng Li, Sean Rowlands and Devin Murphy stand around their design for a grasshopper harvester, which they created with the help of fellow Engineering Design Program student Hannah Whetzel and professor Goggy Davidowitz.

Grab That Grasshopper!

Goggy Davidowitz, professor of entomology at the University of Arizona, has a vested interest in grasshoppers. In the long term, he’d like to convince ranchers to raise grasshoppers instead of cows, and to see the insects — which are 12 times more efficient at converting grass to energy than cows — become a common source of protein for humans.

For the time being, however, farmers regard grasshoppers simply as pests that eat their crops. Davidowitz views harvesting the grasshoppers as a win because it eliminates the need for farmers to use unhealthy insecticides. His engineering design team is creating a machine that can capture grasshoppers in an agricultural field.

“Different species of grasshoppers jump differently,” Davidowitz said. “That means that from day to day, how high and far they jump will vary. How do you address that from an engineering perspective?”

He turned to the Engineering Design Program, hoping his team could use their talents to come up with a creative solution. So far, he’s taken the students to a local farmer’s grasshopper-infested field to test out some preliminary designs, given them a primer on grasshopper biology, and been altogether impressed with their enthusiasm and work ethic.

“I’m absolutely coming back to the program next year — that is a given,” he said. “On top of that, I have two other projects that I’m going to try to convince students to join.”

Weed Whacking, Not Lettuce Whacking

In the vegetable industry, workers remove the weeds around lettuce leaves, or spray them with herbicides, by hand. However, the lettuce industry is currently facing a shortage of workers, and hand labor in Arizona and California — where most of the country’s lettuce is grown — can be expensive.

Mark Siemens, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, is asking an engineering design team to build a robotic weeding machine for leaf lettuce crops. The machine will include a camera and a software system that allows farmers to monitor the device remotely.

“The students are going to develop a user interface with a touch screen and a camera, so you’ll get an image of a tray of weeds and crop plants, and you can select the weeds by hand. Then the machine will target the locations you select,” he said.

Eventually, Siemens would like to develop a version of this device that uses artificial intelligence to identify and kill weeds, but this group of students is focusing on the weed-killing aspect of the project, which is no small task.

“The challenge here is not only to not injure the crop plant and control the weeds, but to do so at a work rate that’s commercially viable,” Siemens said.

He jokes that he gave his students “pretty much an impossible problem” because researchers have been working on the question of how to kill weeds without harming plants for decades.

“I haven’t been able to crack the puzzle, so part of my motivation for doing a senior design project was to get some fresh thoughts on how to build such a machine,” he said. “The senior design program is an excellent opportunity for someone with a limited budget to make some progress on a project of interest.”

Grasshoppers are 12 times more efficient at converting grass to energy than cows, and could become a major source of protein for humans

Senior engineering students and representatives from local and international companies and departments across the University of Arizona met among greenhouses, grasshoppers and drone ground control systems at the UA Engineering Design Program’s annual open house on Aug. 23, 2018.

Students and sponsors were there for the same reason: to meet their match. While 463 College of Engineering seniors came armed with elevator pitches to impress potential mentors, the companies and organizations — sponsoring 85 projects among them — brought informational material and displays of past projects to attract the college’s top talent.

The Paragon 28-sponsored laser-guided system for ankle replacement surgery won the top prize at Engineering Design Day 2018.

Not Their First Rodeo

Many of the attendees at this year’s open house are returning to the program after commissioning projects in years past.

Paragon 28 sponsored a laser-guided system for ankle replacement surgery, which won the top prize at Engineering Design Day 2018 and left the company pleased as well. Company project engineer Frank Barmes said while he was representing at open house, other Paragon 28 employees were showing the apparatus to a surgeon.

This year, Paragon 28’s project — a device to prepare the ankle joint for ankle fusion surgery — attracted a long line of students.

“We are looking at implementing this project internally as soon as the students are done with it,” Barmes said. “The feasibility the students attained on last year’s project made it apparent to us that we should continue participating in the program.”

Johnny Lyons Baral, a senior applications engineer at Hexagon Mining and 2014 graduate of the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, said Hexagon was happy to come back for its second year.

“We see the value in this for our company when we have projects that maybe we don’t have the time or resources for, but it’s something students can do for us,” he said. “It’s a good support for our company to try something out that we might not do otherwise.”

Staunch Engineering Design Day partner Honeywell is sponsoring a dozen projects for 2019.

Loyal partner Honeywell is sponsoring a dozen projects — an all-time high for any company in the program’s history. They range from a device that recycles exhaled carbon dioxide for spacecraft to a method for reducing leaks in gas turbines.

First Timers

Some project representatives — ranging from pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer, sponsoring a greenhouse smart watering system, to PayPal, sponsoring a one-click food bank — were dipping their toes into the waters of the Engineering Design Program for the first time.

Goggy Davidowitz, an associate professor of entomology at the UA, invited students to step inside a large mesh structure to hang out with some grasshoppers. Davidowitz is on a mission to make grasshoppers — which are 12 times more efficient at converting grass to energy than cows — a major source of protein for humans. When he approached biosystems engineering faculty about designing a grasshopper harvester to pull grasshoppers from farmers’ fields for processing into protein, they suggested the Engineering Design Program.

“The initial idea was to get investors and have them put in a million dollars, and hire engineers,” he said. “But this seemed like a lot more fun. We’re using student creativity and talent to try to develop it.”

Alumni Come Home

Some UA alumni who presented at Engineering Design Day themselves just a few years ago are now on the other side of the table, representing companies as sponsor mentors.

Mechanical engineer Timur Taljanovic completed his capstone design project in 2017 through Ventana Medical Systems, a business he’d always dreamed of working for. At this year’s open house, he represented Ventana, which is supporting three projects, as an employee. He remembers his time in the Engineering Design Program fondly.

“This is one of the most developmental things a student can ever do,” he said. “It’s the first time that you apply the theory that you’re learning to a real-world application.”

Brandon Hellman, a PhD student in optical sciences, is sponsoring a hyperspectral imaging smartphone attachment, which can be used to detect fake currency, spot photo fraud and investigate chemical composition.

“The goal is to show we can make a small attachment to detect stuff that was previously hard to detect,” said Hellman, who said his time as an undergraduate in the program in 2015 showed him what UA engineers were capable of. “Students put in a lot of time and effort — and were quite often able to produce amazing results.”

After meeting face-to-face, seniors and sponsoring organizations all ranked their preferences on who they want to work with, and an algorithm assigned groups of students to each project. Now, the teams begin work, to be showcased on April 29 at Engineering Design Day 2019.

Project Title: Active Drone DenialRaytheon logo

Team 17073 Members:
Zachary Wolfgang Becker, mechanical engineering
Jered Bischann, mechanical engineering
Jennifer Lynn Bundy, systems engineering
Mitch Cohen, mechanical engineering
Khas Ochir Sod Erdene, electrical and computer engineering
Bryan Serpa, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Raytheon

Drones Descending, Patent Pending 

To keep drones out of the skies over certain areas, including sports arenas, concert venues and schools, some companies have developed technologies to create restricted air spaces.

One method for doing so is called radio frequency jamming, or RF jamming, i.e., sending out radio signals on the drone’s frequency and thereby disabling the connection with its remote control. This forces the drone to either drop from the sky or automatically return to its controller, depending on the drone model.

However, these systems can be expensive. In his research, University of Arizona mechanical engineering major Jered Bischann found that developing RF jammer projects can run companies anywhere between $2 million and $20 million.

Stepping Outside Comfort Zones to Create Drone Dead Zones

For their senior capstone project, Team 17073 developed an RF jamming solution for sponsor Raytheon that is simpler, cheaper and more cost-effective than other technologies on the market. To do it, they each had to take a step outside their comfort zones.

For example, RF jamming is a specialized field within electrical engineering that no one on the team was familiar with. Zachary Becker, a mechanical engineering major, stepped up to become the team’s RF jamming expert — an effort that earned him second prize for the II-VI Optical Systems Fish Out of Water Award at Engineering Design Day 2018.

Mitch Cohen, also a mechanical engineer, used his experience at a past internship to take charge of the project’s 3D printing and modeling.

“We were just a team that found our own roles that we were not only best at, but that we also enjoyed,” said Bischann, who took on management and communications responsibilities for the group.

A key element that made the project unique was the subsystem the team selected for their transmissions: a plain old Wi-Fi router, costing about $250. Many companies use special frequency generators, worth thousands of dollars, to fine-tune the frequencies their systems target. In their research, however, Team 17073 found that most commercially available drones operate on frequencies of 2.4 and 5.8 gigahertz — the same frequency Wi-Fi routers use.

Patent Pending With Help From TLA

As the project wrapped up, the team’s mentor, Bob Messenger, recommended they seek the intellectual property rights for their device, with the aim of forming a startup, selling the IP to another company, or simply gaining the experience of pursuing a patent.

The team confirmed that Raytheon didn’t want to claim the intellectual property and began working with the UA office that helps researchers commercialize their inventions, Tech Launch Arizona.

Bischann and his teammates continued to explore the business of engineering. For example, they learned that under U.S. law, a patent must be statutory — a type of invention that’s able to be patented — as well as new, useful and non-obvious.

They focused on the non-obvious aspect of their device by emphasizing their use of a Wi-Fi router. While the patent is still pending, Bischann said the entire process, from learning how to manage a budget to forming connections across industries, has been invaluable.

“The experience definitely helped me get a career job,” said Bischann, who moved to San Diego to work with Naval Air Command after graduation. “I was able to see the connection with the business side of engineering.”

Project Title: Piezoaccelerometer Temperature ChamberCaterpillar logo

Team 17010 Members:
Nicholas Anderson-Masters, electrical and computer engineering
Jacob Lanier, mechanical engineering
Amber Morgan, systems engineering
Carlos Munoz, mechanical engineering
Daniel M. Quinn, biosystems engineering
Jamie Roberson, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Caterpillar

Team’s Chamber Helps Caterpillar Calibrate More Accurately 

Two women and four men, the members of Team 17010, stand in front of the poster that details their piezoaccelerometer temperature chamber.

When something goes wrong with a piezoaccelerometer, a device that measures acceleration in high temperatures, Caterpillar engineers use a machine called a shaker to calibrate it. The shaker vibrates the accelerometer at a known frequency, creating a data set to help identify the problem.

However, the shaker only works at room temperature. As a result, the data gleaned from the calibration can be unreliable, because the piezoaccelerometer isn’t being tested in the high-heat environment it’s meant to work in.

For their senior design project, Team 17010 created a testing chamber that allows for the best of both worlds: increasing the temperature around the piezoaccelerometer without overheating the shaker’s delicate electronics.

“We’ve never been able to apply heat and shake the piezoaccelerometer at the same time,” sponsor mentor Nitin Patel said. “Now, the piezoaccelerometer is at temperature, but the shaker is at room temperature, and everyone’s happy.”

Learning to Work Outside the Box

“Everyone” includes Patel, who graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2002. He said the collaborative format of the Engineering Design Program has come a long way since he was a senior.

“I like the interdisciplinary nature of the team project,” he said. “I wanted five or six of the best engineers I could get — I didn’t care what their backgrounds were. Being an engineer means you’re working outside the box all the time.”

Divide to Conquer

A close-up of Team 17010's piezoaccelerometer temperature chamber.

Patel enjoyed giving students a chance to build real-world engineering skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving and persistence.

At the start of the project, for example, the team brainstormed ideas for how to heat up the piezoaccelerometer, including a heat gun and an electric heater. They bought supplies to try the electric heater approach but ran into difficulties.

Patel suggested a technique he and his colleagues often take when they face a similar stalemate: Divide the team into two, so some engineers can keep working on the task at hand, and some can investigate other solutions. Half of Team 17010 returned to the heat gun idea and found it to be more effective, and the team used it in their final project.

“That’s the process that you go through as an engineer,” Patel said. “Not everything works the first time around.”

Because it’s a troubleshooting device, the temperature chamber isn’t something Caterpillar uses every day. But Patel said it’s what the company will turn to when they have a concern about how a piezoaccelerometer is working.

Caterpillar will also return to sponsor four news senior projects with the Engineering Design Program in the 2018-2019 academic year, and Patel plans to act as an Engineering Design Day judge as well as a sponsor.

Cliff Andressen stands with the members of teams 17007 and 17008 as they hold a giant check for

Project Title: Advanced Mining Machine ConceptCaterpillar logo

Team 17007 and 17008 Members:
Matthew Hilton, mechanical engineering
Nathaniel Matesich, mechanical engineering
Owen David Pierce, mechanical engineering
Gaurav Sathish, mechanical engineering
Don C. Uvindra Sirimanne, mechanical engineering
Brian C. Cebrynski, engineering management
Maximilian Garber, mechanical engineering
Dylan Arthur Guenther, mechanical engineering
Ivan Llancas, systems engineering
Duy Trong Van, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Caterpillar

New Award Recognizes Projects with Outstanding Design Solutions

Cliff Andressen stands with the members of teams 17007 and 17008 as they hold a giant check for

Cliff Andressen earned a degree in physics from Loyola University and spent 45 years working as an engineer, 13 of those years at Raytheon. When he retired, he moved to Tucson, and he and his wife joined the UA College of Engineering’s da Vinci Circle.

When the pair saw some of the projects from the college’s annual Engineering Design Day on display at a da Vinci dinner, they decided to check out the next Design Day for themselves.

“I found it fascinating how good some of the projects are,” Andressen said. “I was just awed by the quality of work that UA students were doing.”

When he saw how excited the students were to win awards at Design Day, he decided it was a cause worth contributing to. He sponsored the Andressen Award for Design Above and Beyond, which recognizes projects that exceed requirements and produce results that could influence the development of other products, for the first time at the 2018 event.

“I really like the UA College of Engineering,” he said. “They’re teaching the kids to think, not just to turn the crank.”

Surface Mining System Designed to Impress

When he surveyed this year’s Engineering Design Day, he was immediately impressed by a rare project that involved two groups of seniors — teams 17007 and 17008. Their task: to design and build a small-scale prototype for a surface mining machine that could replace both the electric rope shovel and the hydraulic rope shovel.

“They came up with a totally new way of mining in terms of doing the digging,” Andressen said. “It wasn’t just a shovel with a bulldozer. It was a whole system that allows you to simultaneously extricate and haul off material.”

Finding Success by Joining Forces

Developing the design had its challenges. Project sponsor Caterpillar assigned 10 seniors to work on the project, giving them the option to either split into two teams or work together.

Initially working as two teams, the students realized halfway through the year that the scope of the project called for a combined effort. They took the two design concepts they had developed, performed trade studies to compare pros and cons, and let their sponsor choose between the designs when the results were too close to call.

“This project was largely a systems engineering project, so I, like the rest of the team, was taken out of my comfort zone a bit,” said team member Dylan Guenther, a mechanical engineer. “This has given me a more versatile set of experiences and skills than I would have had on a more formal project. I am certain that this experience will help me get a job and perform it well.”

Andressen, too, was impressed by the real-world experience all teams were receiving — and the valuable input and brainpower the sponsoring companies were gaining. Students were being challenged not just for the sake of a challenge, but because they were working on problems relevant to today’s world, he said.

Despite the all-nighters and unexpected twists and turns along the way, Guenther said he wouldn’t trade the experience. His favorite part was the camaraderie among his teammates that carried them through every trial.

“This was also the most surprising aspect of the project to me: the fact that you can strain so hard and exhaust yourself so much but really love every minute of it, just because of the people around you,” he said.

Project Title: Laser-Guided Ankle Positioning for Total Ankle Arthroplasty

Team 17079 Members:
Madison Cooper, biomedical engineering
Dani McEachern, biomedical engineering
Daniel Medrano, mechanical engineering
Gabriella Romano, biomedical engineering
Jarod C. Weber, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Paragon 28

Laser-Focused Seniors Design Ankle Alignment Accuracy

In total ankle arthroplasty, or ankle replacement, procedures, surgeons must ensure that placement of an ankle prosthesis is aligned correctly with the patient’s hip, while still allowing the ankle to have six degrees of freedom of movement.

Surgeons ensure this alignment by cutting two fixation points on the patient’s ankle and shin. This introduces two sites of trauma and two sites for possible infection, and increases recovery time and the number of steps in postoperative protocol.

For their senior project, Team 17079 designed a system that uses a laser beam shining from ankle to hip to attain the correct alignment, eliminating the need for a second fixation point and achieving a level of accuracy that exceeds existing methods.

“This could open doorways to rethink the way we do orthopedic surgery,” said team leader Daniel Medrano.

To do it, they exceeded the project requirements, going through three prototypes of the finished product, and many more rounds of prototyping for each of the system’s custom-designed components.

Team member Gabriella Romano used the research lab she works in to 3D-print the first prototype for the laser mount and brought it home in her backpack. That night, her house was robbed, and her backpack — laptop, prototype and all — were gone.

Beating the ‘Bad News Bears’ Luck

“I think I had the prototype for all of two hours,” she said. “If they made an underdog or a ‘Bad News Bears’ story for engineers, that was us.”

But the team didn’t give up hope. They forged ahead with their prototyping and called in associate professor of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering Dr. Daniel Latt, an orthopedic surgeon, to perform two mock procedures using their device.

His feedback indicated the guide was easy to use and improved one of the most important alignment steps in the surgery. Their average angular deviation was +/- 0.75 percent, lower than current alignment guides on the market.

Frank Barmes, a project engineer at Paragon 28 and one of the team’s corporate mentors, said he appreciated what the students’ diverse experiences and interests brought to the project. The company has even submitted a provisional patent application for the device.

“The team worked well together for great results,” he said. “We fully expect to continue the project through commercialization.”

Hard Work, Sacrifice Earn Design Day Win

The team spent hours practicing their presentation in the days leading up to Design Day. They were proud of their hard work, but weren’t expecting any outstanding accolades when the big event rolled around.

Once it arrived, they were surprised by the number of people — both judges and passers-by — who told them their device could make a real impact in the medical field. When they were announced as the winners of the Raytheon Award for Best Overall Design, the $5,000 top prize, their jaws dropped.

One of the first people to come up to Romano was her academic adviser, who assured her that the whole team would have no problem finding jobs after their win.

“My group and I worked endlessly on this project, and at times we had to sacrifice other classes’ study time,” Medrano said. “But, in the end, it was well worth our efforts because it has changed our future. And how many engineering students can say they won Design Day?”

Project Title: Balance and Cognition Fall Intervention Application

Team 17006 Members:
Rose Blank, engineering management with systems and industrial engineering minor
Samuel Younghwan Kim, biomedical engineering
Zhongpu Li, electrical and computer engineering
Cameron McHugh, biomedical engineering
Sheldon Ruiz, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Arizona Center on Aging

Students Focus on Helping People, Improving Lives with Smartphone App

Adults ages 60 and older have an increased risk of falling — and injuring themselves — due to diminished neuromuscular feedback. But performing simple exercises can increase neuromuscular control and enhance balance, posture and position awareness, reducing fall risk.

Team 17006 created the UA Balance app, a simple iOS– and Android-compatible smartphone app that guides users through exercises, offers motivational notifications, and tracks progress to keep them engaged.

Users place red, green, yellow and blue circles onto the ground, and the app’s audio instructs them to touch their feet onto the circles in alternating patterns — almost like a solo, feet-only game of Twister. The exercises can be done either sitting or standing.

“All of us know somebody who has fallen,” said team member Cameron Fay McHugh, who has helped her own grandmother to try the program. “It was really fulfilling to work on an app that can hopefully decrease those numbers. Engineering is pointless if it cannot be used to help people and, in some way, improve their lives.”

Must-Have Medical App

MedPage Today, an online resource for health care professionals and physicians, has taken notice of the team’s work, naming it one of the “Must-Have Medical Apps” for two weeks in a row in May.

While significant research went into studying the best evidence-based dual motor-cognitive exercises, and the students needed expertise from several different areas of engineering, McHugh said the most challenging part of the project was keeping its audience in mind.

“We’re designing an app that’s used on a smartphone, and our main audience is 65 and older,” she said.

To accommodate this, the team created an extremely simple interface, with a navigation tutorial that can be accessed at any time. Users can also change everything from the app’s font size to the repetition, duration and tempo of the exercises.

Jane Mohler — professor in the UA’s College of Medicine – Tucson, associate director of the Center on Aging and the team’s technical mentor — said the team made an important contribution to the field of fall intervention by programming and testing the app.

“By collaborating with a senior engineering team, you can receive meaningful help while helping to train our future engineers in how to work productively in a team,” she said.

Project Title: Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Parachute System

Team 17078 Members:
Abdulmajed Almodhabri, electrical and computer engineering
Keenan Heller, mechanical engineering
Steve Miller, electrical and computer engineering
Christian Oropeza, industrial engineering
Nick Patzke, mechanical engineering
Jonathon Rea, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: O-Chute

Young Alum Employs Students to Design and Deploy Drone Parachutes

When his parents bought Pete Lauderdale II a drone, it didn’t take long to crash it. Luckily, it was only a minor run-in with the couch, but it got the 25-year-old UA alumnus thinking: Many drones travel upward of 40 mph and can soar miles from their earthbound pilots, but even for his relatively cheap drone, a crash could have unsalvageable — not to mention heartbreaking — results.

“It’s 800 dollars. If it falls out of the sky, there’s no way it’s going to land safely,” he said. “How do you stop an object like that from falling down and getting damaged?”

In addition, Lauderdale realized these drones represented a safety hazard after reading about Californian pedestrians getting hit in the head with falling drones, and about an incident in Turkey where a single plummeting drone injured 11 people.

An idea started to form, about a lightweight parachute that would automatically deploy when a drone started to lose altitude too quickly. Lauderdale’s market research determined there were only three or four other people in the world, all overseas, marketing similar ideas — he enrolled in Startup Tucson’s Thryve, a three-month intensive course about entrepreneurship.

“I’m not a mechanical engineer or an electrical engineer,” he said. “But I’m hardworking, and I’m ready to find any avenue to get this thing completed.”

When he asked the folks at Startup Tucson how he might be able to get his product developed without breaking the bank, they suggested the Engineering Design Program. He was surprised — he was fresh out of college, not a major donor by any means. But not only did his completion of the Thryve course line up perfectly with the Engineering Design Program’s need for a few more challenging programs, he also learned that startups like his qualified for a hefty discount on the program.

In August 2017, he founded O-Chute.

A Team Comes Together

His Engineering Design Program team has been tasked with designing a lightweight product that works reliably at all altitudes; can be counted on to deploy reliably and not get tangled; and offers a user-friendly installation process.

He likes his team, and hopes they’re interested in sticking with the project because he’s certainly interested in hiring them on at O-Chute after graduation.

“Most of the senior design projects are from corporations or government entities,” said team member Steve Miller. “Pete is just a guy with a vision, and I liked the idea of working for that vision.”

“You have so many people working toward one goal, it’s really cool,” Lauderdale said. “They’re working so hard, so I know I’ve got to work harder.”

Once the design is finalized, Lauderdale plans to get a provisional patent, then a full patent, and hopes to leverage his background in international affairs to sell his product in other countries. He also wants to talk to insurance companies to see if people who buy his product can qualify for reduced deductibles on drone insurance.

The fruits of Lauderdale’s collaboration with Team 17078 will be on display at Design Day on April 30.

Project Title: Shallow Ground Natural Gas Aeration Improvement

Team 17045 Members:
Ali Amailou, mechanical engineering
Jamaal Jackson Ferguson, electrical and computer engineering
Nolan Nguyen, mechanical engineering
Erica Rao, mechanical engineering
Christopher Summersgill, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Southwest Gas

Extracting Hazardous Gas Leaks From Soil

When natural gas pipes leak, Southwest Gas personnel remove the gas from the ground using a process called aeration, which involves creating a vacuum above ground that draws the gas out of the soil and ejects it into the atmosphere.

“When natural gas saturates the ground after a leak, it’s hanging out down there where it could be potentially hazardous,” said Josh Spivey, supervisor of construction at Southwest Gas and one of the sponsor mentors for the project, along with Dominique Mitchell and Philip Ciuffetelli. “But once it’s aerated out of the ground, it just dissipates because being lighter than air is one of the safety features of natural gas.”

A Cheaper, Quieter and More Efficient Solution

Team 17045 has been tasked with creating a cheaper, quieter and more efficient device for natural gas aeration. The team’s objective was to make the new model 10 percent more efficient. First, they ran a test of the existing model to determine its efficiency levels and establish a baseline of performance. Then they took measurements of the device’s pieces to render a 3-D computer model in SolidWorks and run a flow simulation. Once the results of their model were sufficiently close to the results of the real-world machine, they adjusted variables such as the size and shape of the chamber until the model was running with maximum efficiency. They made further adjustments to accommodate manufacturing needs.

“We wanted to make as many of the pipes and tubes as we could just purchasable online,” said student team leader Erica Rao. “Southwest Gas wants to be able to buy off-the-shelf components as much as possible.”

Mentors Bring UA Education, Real-World Experience

The team’s three mentors are all UA graduates themselves, and were eager for the chance to mentor students on this project.

“It’s a great project for the senior design team, but it’s also a great product we can actually use,” Mitchell said. “It’s about trying to do something quickly but safely to remove the gas from the ground.”

The students said they benefit from the advice of fellow engineers, whether it’s about the basics of welding or how to work with air traveling at supersonic speeds. But their mentors are proud to say that this really is a student-run project, with the mentors there only for guidance.

“The students are there to solve the project for us. They have skill sets and resources that we don’t have at Southwest Gas,” Spivey said. “It could be used across our entire company, pending the right results.”

Team 17045’s project will be on display at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day on April 30.

Project Title: Customer-Optimized Power Use and Cost

Team 17022 Members:
Hadi Almakaiel, mechanical engineering
Dylan Carlson, electrical and computer engineering
Kendall Collier, systems engineering
Daniel Miranda, electrical and computer engineering
Liam Spinney, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Tucson Electric Power

Getting a Peek at Energy Peaks

Most people tend to use energy at the same times of day. For example, Tucson Electric Power reports its peak hours are from 3 to 7 p.m. in the summer and from 6 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. during the winter. Because electricity is more expensive for TEP to produce during these hours, it’s also more expensive for the customer. Customers can opt into a cheaper payment plan by not using electricity during peak hours.

However, some people don’t know their own energy use habits very well, and some have a hard time navigating TEP’s tiered plans. Enter team 17022.

“The idea behind our project is to create a system that measures how much power people are using and calculates cost,” said team member Dylan Carlson. “Then it presents that information, so people can determine what they can do to save money without changing their energy use.”

A Powerful Tool for Monitoring Power

To achieve this, the team is developing software and hardware to monitor data and display it to customers. First, there’s a current transformer that customers can plug devices into, which will monitor how much electricity they use throughout the day.

“Basically, you’ll be plugging your refrigerator — or whatever appliances you want to monitor — into our device,” Carlson said.

The software side of the project involves creating an interface that allows customers to view their energy use patterns and decide on ways they might be able to shift their usage to cheaper times. For example, if a person discovers from the data that they usually do laundry from 6 to 7 p.m. during the winter, they could shift their laundry routine from 5 to 6 p.m. and save money by avoiding peak usage times.

“A lot of what they’re doing in this project is only possible now because it requires computers, databases and internet access to systems that control the house,” said the team’s college mentor, Dave Gilblom. “They couldn’t have done that 10 years ago.”

Data Collection and Weatherproofing For the Future

The team is conducting accuracy testing to make sure their hardware is correctly capturing data, and developing weatherproof boxes for customers who want to monitor outside devices. They hope the project will ultimately lead to cheaper electricity bills for Tucson and beyond.

“I thought it was pretty relatable,” said student team leader Kendall Collier. “Everyone has a power bill, and everyone pays it. It’s something that I could use and would affect my life.”

Team 17022 will be displaying their energy use software and hardware at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day on April 30.

Project Title: Installation Design of Phase Change Material in Residential Homes

Team 17066 Members:
Nofal Alkhunaizi, engineering management
Nic Balda, mechanical engineering
Tyler Farley, industrial engineering
Alex Gill, mechanical engineering
Tanya Turner, mechanical engineering
Lorelei Wong, industrial engineering

Sponsor: Salt River Project

Keeping Casas Cool

Most Tucsonans are familiar with the spike in their electricity bill that comes with the summer months. They’re also familiar with the fact that this comes mostly from running air conditioning units during the day.

Phase change material, or PCM, could change that. PCM is a material that can store and release large quantities of energy by melting and resolidifying. Its heat-absorbing properties are already used to keep some industrial buildings cool during the summer.

In a project sponsored by the Salt River Project, Team 17066 is examining a way to install PCM into existing residential homes.

Saving Money Through Off-Hours Energy Use

The team is investigating a material that changes phase at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that when the outdoor temperature exceeds 77 degrees, heat energy is channeled into melting the PCM, thus slowing the transfer of heat energy into the building. On the other hand, when temperatures dip below 77 degrees in the evening, the cooler air has to resolidify the PCM before the air can cool the inside of the house. Even if this means running the air conditioner in the evenings, it has the benefit of shifting energy use out of peak demand hours, when — thanks to the law of supply and demand — electricity is more expensive for both utility companies and customers.

“If the Salt River Project could flatten the peaks out, it would be less costly to them and obviously less costly to the customer,” said Steve Larimore, the team’s college mentor.

The students said one of the trickiest parts of their project is devising a system for retrofitting existing buildings, rather than designing new buildings or even taking measures like tearing down walls. But the challenging nature of the project has led to some creative methods of getting PCM into a house. For example, installing it in an attic — similar to the way it’s used in industrial buildings — is ideal, but not every home has an attic.

Drawing the Curtains on Excess Heat

Much of the heat that enters a house comes in through the windows, so the team is experimenting with PCM-filled curtains to block the heat. They’ve also investigated incorporating PCM into large pieces of furniture, such as beds or dressers; using customizable, decorative boxes that hang 4 to 6 inches below the ceilings; and even hiding the PCM behind large pieces of canvas artwork.

The team has started off by building a model house, a 3-by-3-foot box that they’ll try retrofitting with PCM in different configurations. Then they’ll shine a heat lamp on the box to simulate summer weather conditions and hook up an AC unit. If they find a setup that works well, they’ll pursue the results further by running similar tests on a software model. Hopefully, the students say, they’ll be a part of a project that affects homeowners everywhere for the better. In the meantime, they’re learning from and enjoying the process.

“There’s a lot of excitement leading up to the senior design project, because it has such real-world application and teams get to work with a real budget, but it lives up to the hype,” said team member Nic Balda. “I can definitely see why it’s one of the top-rated design programs in the nation.”

See this project and other designs that could change the way we live at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day on April 30.

Project Title: Tissue-Replacement Control Slides

Team 17049 Members:
Paul Acosta, biomedical engineering
Alexander Day, biomedical engineering
Tatum Hale, biosystems engineering
Gabrielle Hutchens, biomedical engineering
Vy Nguyen, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: Ventana Medical Systems Inc.

Tech Could Save Lives, Time and Money

When scientists like those at Ventana Medical Center look at tissue under a microscope, every tissue sample looks a little bit different. That’s the point, after all: to look for microscopic differences in tissue that might be indicators of diseases such as cancer. They use colored stains that bind to different parts of the tissue: hematoxylin, a purple stain that binds to nucleic acids, and eosin, a pink stain that binds to substances such as amino acids and proteins.

Sometimes, however, minute differences are caused by the very machine that does the staining. Scientists have to account for whether differences between tissues are due to the tissues themselves or to the staining process. To do this, Ventana runs high sample sizes of tissue to reduce variability, which is neither cost nor time effective.

“If we had a control slide, we could greatly reduce the number of slides we need to run,” said Daniel O’Connor, Ventana’s mentor for the project. “That would save us quite a bit of time and money.”

A Student-Engineered Solution

Five students in the University of Arizona Engineering Design Program were tasked with creating a control slide, a nontissue slide that would stain in a simple, specific pattern the same way every time. If the scientists stain the control slide and it looks different from the specific pattern it should produce, then they know that variations in the stained tissue samples are likely due to the machine, not to inherent variations in the tissue.

“We want to know if our instruments here are functioning as designed,” O’Connor said.

Settling on a Stain

The team found two different materials that best suited their needs for a control slide.

“We needed something that has nucleic acid-like structures that would bind the stains,” said Gabrielle Hutchens, the student team leader.

After much trial and error — they tried Elmer’s glue, acetone, nail polish and even paper — the team settled on an art glue called methylcellulose, which binds well with hematoxylin, and nylon, which binds well with eosin.

“We have ideas, and they work,” Hutchens said. “It’s just implementing them and making them easy every time, and making something that’s going to be consistent for Ventana.”

Their project will be on public display at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day on April 30.

“We’re always looking for more efficient and effective ways of doing things, and this just seems like a very big opportunity, mostly because it doesn’t only impact our department but all of the R&D in the organization, and even beyond that,” O’Connor said.

Three members of Team 17062 stand next to an apparatus they designed to mimic features of the human eye.

Project Title: Macular Degeneration Evaluation System

Team 17062 Members:
Erika Ackerman, biosystems engineering
Lexa Brossart, biomedical engineering
Shelley Meyer, biomedical engineering
Rory Morrison-Colvin, biomedical engineering
Ryan Nolcheff, optical sciences

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

Students Develop Project That Could Help People See More Clearly

Three members of Team 17062 stand next to an apparatus they designed to mimic features of the human eye.Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and over, and it affects approximately a third of people over 75.

A team of students in the University of Arizona’s Engineering Design Program are working on a device to study the disease’s causes by examining retinal pigment epithelial cells, or RPE. Their project could be a major step toward finding the first-ever treatment for macular degeneration.

Robert Snyder, an ophthalmologist and professor of biomedical engineering at UA, and Brian McKay, associate professor of ophthalmology in the UA College of Medicine, are the College project mentors.

McKay studies l-dopa, a type of protein that is produced by healthy RPE in a feedback loop in which cells produce the protein and the protein helps the cells grow. But in individuals with macular degeneration, l-dopa production has gone amok. McKay and Snyder also hypothesize that the proteins in the eye, including l-dopa, are produced in a sort of circadian rhythm, but that the rhythm is off in individuals with macular degeneration.

Putting a Hypothesis to the Test

To test the hypothesis, the students are creating an apparatus designed to mimic the environment of the eye and test levels of protein output throughout the day.

Nutrients such as l-dopa move via two tubes through a chamber of RPE, and come out the other end of the chamber carrying new proteins produced by the RPE. The system is unusual in that it washes the nutrients over the cells rather than leaving cells in a static pool of media.

“If you had a culture system that was just a bunch of cells lying in a culture plate for 24 or 48 hours, you wouldn’t see that feedback loop,” Snyder said.

RPE cells are polarized, with apical surfaces that face the external environment and basal surfaces that face the internal environment. The two-tube system corresponds with the two polarities and will allow researchers to see which proteins are being produced by which surfaces.

The nutrients with the new RPE proteins will be collected in microcentrifuge dishes on two collection disks, with 24 dishes each that rotate every hour. This means there will be a sample of both the apical and basal proteins produced for every hour of the day. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay machine, or an ELISA, can then determine the protein levels in the samples.

“Essentially, we’ll have a time-dependent scale of each of the proteins throughout the day,” said student team leader Erika Ackerman.

Once the system — which will be on public display at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day on April 30 — is up and running, the team and future researchers can experiment with variables. Such variables could include exposing the RPE to 12 varying periods of darkness and light, or adjusting the nutrients and flow rate to investigate other RPE-related diseases such as albinism and glaucoma.

Project Title: Microfluidic-Based System for Mimicking Human Organs

Team 17047 Members:
Fernando Albelo, biomedical engineering
Bailey Bellaire, biomedical engineering
Apoorva Bhaskara, biomedical engineering
Victor Estrada, mechanical engineering
Adolfo Herrera, mechanical engineering
Meagan Tran, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

Organ-Imitating Device Could Mean the End of Animal Testing

A female member of Team 17047 selects a slide while her other hand rests on an electron microscope while a male team member observes.Undergraduate biomedical and mechanical engineers in the University of Arizona’s Engineering Design Program are teaming up to create a “lung on a chip,” a microfluidic device that could offer a new method for testing treatments and identifying how practices like smoking e-cigarettes affect the lungs. Microfluidics is the science of working with fluids on a submillimeter scale.

Using epithelial cells, which line many of the body’s surfaces, and endothelial cells, a single-layer type of epithelium, to create a two-channel system, the students hope to recreate the lung’s most important function: the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen.

“The idea is that it is possible to break it down into the simplest structure that can capture the most important processes,” said College team mentor Yitshak Zohar, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of the Integrated Microsystem Laboratory.

Historically, scientists have studied the way external stimuli affect cells using one of two methods. The first is on monolayers, using only epithelial or endothelial cells, which doesn’t allow scientist to capture the complex natures of cell signaling in a real organ. The second is to test treatments on animals — not only a complicated ethical issue, but also not the same as using human tissues. As Zohar said, there are basic biological differences that mean results of animal testing aren’t always transferable to humans. This chip could be the middle ground.

“Instead of performing tests in culture dishes or on mice, we can streamline the process through recreating an organ on a chip,” said student team leader Meagan Tran.

Future Applications

The actual lung on a chip, which will be on public display April 30 at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day, is simple to make once scientists have the right cells. They layer the cells onto a clear silicone mold with a semipermeable membrane in between, and then expose the epithelial layer to gas flow and the endothelial layer to liquid flow. Zohar estimated that, once the engineers have a mold, each silicone “chip” would cost less than a dollar to produce.

Further down the line, the device could also have applications in personalized medicine, allowing a specific person’s cells to try out treatments in the system, so doctors and scientists can determine which treatment is best suited for that person.

“The drugs will be tailored to a particular person, not a particular disease,” Zohar said.

There is also the potential to coordinate with other researchers who are producing similar devices to simulate other organs, such as the gut, the breast or the prostate.

“Eventually, these devices can be hooked together to make a human system, and used to study metabolic absorption,” Tran said.

Project Title: Virtual Reality System for Analyzing Human Brain Neuronal Networks

Team 17061 Members:
Erica Michelle Bosset, optical engineering
Joseph Elliott Clark, systems engineering
John Maximillian DiBaise, biomedical engineering
Josiah Michael McClanahan, electrical and computer engineering
Edward Richter, electrical engineering
Vincent Tso, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Biomedical Engineering

Project Gives Educators, Doctors New Tools

A student wearing VR goggles and handling two control pads looks around while a nearby monitor displays a computer-generated representation of a brain's white matter fiber tracts.In the iSpace of the University of Arizona Science-Engineering Library, five Engineering Design Program students on a 2018 senior design team take turns donning a virtual reality, or VR, headset and “entering” a room with a gray ceiling and gray walls. Directly in front of them is a shelf with two “brains” on it. Using VR hand controllers, the students pick up the brains from the shelf and examine them from every angle.

One brain is from magnetic resonance imaging. It looks like a scan of the swirly, dual-hemisphere brain with which most people are familiar. The other — a long, spindly representation of the brain’s white matter fiber tracts — is from a diffusion-tensor imaging scan.

Members of the interdisciplinary design team are fine-tuning their computer program to convert 2-D brain scans into 3-D images for viewing in a VR space.

The students, some working in a field outside their majors, say the project has given them a chance to contribute to a rapidly expanding area of technology.

“It’s a pure open-source, make-the-world-a-better-place, play-with-VR project,” said student team leader Joseph Elliott Clark, a systems engineering major. “What’s not to love?”

Benefits of 3-D Brain Images

When researchers and doctors look at a brain scan, they’re evaluating a 3-D object in a 2-D picture, and a lot of information gets lost in translation or becomes difficult to see. Similarly, it is difficult for students to learn about the brain’s complex structure from pictures, drawings, scans and other 2-D representations.

“Usually if we try to learn about the anatomy of the brain, we look at it the from angle one, angle two, angle three,” said Nan-Kuei Chen, UA associate professor of biomedical engineering, who is partnering with the program on the capstone project. “With this interactive mode, it’s not looking at only three angles — it’s looking at all possible angles.”

The senior student project, which will be on public display April 30 at the College of Engineering’s 2018 Design Day, will give researchers access to pre-uploaded brain images, including some that show symptoms of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Ultimately, doctors diagnosing and treating brain conditions will be able to upload brain scans of their own patients for 3-D VR viewing.

Educational Add-ons

An added feature for education is audio that explains the functions of each anatomical region of the brain. For example, a user could use hand controls to select the medulla oblongata, and a voice might say, “Vital regions in the medulla oblongata regulate heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, vomiting and coughing.” Another project extra, which Chen envisions as a free resource, is a VR Android app to help teachers explain basic brain anatomy to students.

“This is a very strong multidisciplinary team, and usually you don’t find so many talents all in the same group,” he said.

Members of Team 16003 demonstrate their anti-drone device during Engineering Design Day 2017. The design earned the team $1,000 when they won the TRAX International Best Implementation of Agile Methodology award.

College of Engineering seniors have been working on their capstone projects all year, and April 30 steams ever closer, marking the moment these teams get a chance to showcase their incredible designs.

UA’s student engineers set off from their marks Aug. 24, 2017, during the Open House, where more than 450 students declared their interest in projects from an array of disciplines. When this year’s Design Day kicks off, teams will display 120 projects in the Student Union Ballroom and on the UA Mall for the expert judges, who will scrutinize each design against carefully constructed criteria.

Time is running out, so make your plans to join us for Engineering Design Day 2018! Contact us for details about how to attend.

Laura Haferkamp of Team 16022 shows how Team 16022's custom-designed and machined clamps will interface with the Unbreakable Fiber Optic cable.

Project Title: Bifurcated Fiber Optic Cable System for Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield Spectrometer

Team 16022 Members:
David Greif, mechanical engineering
Laura Haferkamp, materials science and engineering
Giuseppe Lo Voi, electrical and computer engineering
Kyel Powell, systems engineering
Andrew Rocha, optical sciences and engineering (team lead)

Sponsor: NASA

Unbreakable Fiber Optic to Test Orion Reentry Capabilities

Team 16022 members with the 6-meter fiber optic cable that they'll use for building the UFO system.Team 16022 is working on a UFO for NASA – an Unbreakable Fiber Optic, that is. The custom fiber optic cable assembly is intended for the upcoming NASA Exploration Mission 1 to test Orion spacecraft reentry capabilities.

The UFO system will be attached to Orion’s heat shield to propagate spectral data through a sapphire rod for spectrometer analysis on the ground. The data will provide information about the chemistry of ionized gases and ablated heat shield material.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Recognition

Team UFO has already gained renown beyond the UA campus. Team lead Andrew Rocha joined with Laura Haferkamp and Giuseppe Lo Voi for a second place-winning presentation in March at the AIAA Region VI Student Paper Conference at San Jose State University. The paper, which was co-authored by all five team members, earned a $300 prize.

The trio’s visit to San Jose included meeting astronaut Dan Bursch, a veteran of three space shuttle flights and service on the International Space Station, and visits to NASA’s Ames Research Center and the Intel Museum.

This is the first group to be invited to present a paper during the school year, said Doug May, the team’s Engineering Design Program mentor.

Testing and Construction

Laura Haferkamp shows how Team 16022's custom-designed and machined clamps will interface with the Unbreakable Fiber Optic cable.The prototype, which will be on display May 1 during Design Day 2017, consists of a bifurcated, space-rated and verified broadband transmission optical fiber that uses two loose outer jackets. The cable is supported by student-designed aluminum clamps lined with silicone foam. Each of two cable legs terminate in spectrometer ports.

Vibration and shock testing is being performed at Orbital ATK in Chandler, and heat, humidity and pressure testing at the UA’s Arizona Materials Laboratory.

NASA, which is designing and building its own system, expects to have a final version of the alternate designs installed in Orion’s mid-bay area, between the crew cabin and the thermal protection area.

Project Title: Robotic Data Center

MicrosoftTeam 16035 Members:
Abdulrahman Alrashidi, industrial engineering
Daniel Bird, mechanical engineering
Jeni Dye, electrical and computer engineering
Dako Lesman, systems engineering
Marco Tipitto, mechanical engineering (team lead)

Sponsor: Microsoft

Design Program Experience Mixture of Internship, Job Interview

With a tool to justify the adoption of robotics and hardware automation, members of Team 16035 are helping make modern data centers truly modern while nailing down career options.

Modern data centers are massive complexes of multiple buildings containing hundreds of thousands of servers. A rack of 40 servers weighs in at 4,000 pounds. Each server includes a motherboard, power supplies and many hard drives, all of which require energy, cooling, monitoring, maintenance and repair.

Safety is difficult to ensure in a building generating 40 megawatts of heat and distributing 40 megawatts of electric power, where hundreds of disk drives fail each day and must be transported to shredders. Security is hard to guarantee in centers where each employee is surrounded by petabytes of customer data. And, in a business where accuracy is paramount yet focusing on the correct rack, server, disk drive or fiber optic cable can be mentally challenging, it’s easy to get the details wrong.

It’s no wonder the industry is under pressure to improve safety, security and accuracy while increasing cloud computing and data transmission speeds, advancements that typically call for robotics and hardware automation. But data centers have been slow to adopt these technologies.

Team 16035 is using Microsoft’s Power BI software to create a decision tool for incorporating robotics into data centers. The model compares cost and performance of various configurations to help Microsoft plan data centers with features such as robotic maintenance.

Users input requirements such as size and location, and the tool outputs optimal design specifications, projected costs and a 3-D SolidWorks representation of the data center. The model performs its calculations by retrieving official data from the internet and combining it with input and previously saved data.

With Design Day 2017 only weeks away, Team 16035 is putting finishing touches on the data center planning model, like adding a module that incorporates all 41,719 U.S. ZIP codes to use for obtaining climate information.

The quintet has had extensive contact with Microsoft, including a winter-break visit to company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and a road trip to Quincy with collaborating employees during a six-hour snowstorm. The small town in central Washington is home to data centers operated by Microsoft, Intuit, Dell, Yahoo! and other tech giants, all drawn by abundant, low-cost renewable power and a high concentration of installed fiber optic.

“They’re really challenging us,” said team member Dako Lesman, adding that the project feels like “a combination job interview and internship.” Lesman and two teammates have Microsoft on their short lists of future employers.

Project Title: Smart Work Environment and Application of Augmented Reality Overlay for Manufacturing

RaytheonTeam 16011 Members:
Alexandra Kay Beresford, engineering management (team lead)
Nicole Chellman, industrial engineering
Jonah Matanky, mechanical engineering
Bryce Roybal, engineering management
Seth Werly, electrical and computer engineering
Nicholas Yonke, biomedical engineering (with mechanical engineering minor)

Sponsor: Raytheon Missile Systems

Prototype in the Vanguard of Smart Factories

Team 16011 meets in the UA Science and Engineering Library. From left to right, Bryce Roybal, Seth Werly, Nicholas Yonke, Alexandra Beresford, and Nicole Chellman.With its augmented reality model, Team 16011 is plotting a movement – the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, to be precise.

The first Industrial Revolution took off with steam power to mechanize work done by humans, animals, and natural forces like wind and moving water. Then came the second, with electricity, assembly lines and mass production. The third saw widespread use of computers and robots beginning to replace assembly line workers. Next up: Industry 4.0 for smart factories, centered on automation and data exchange.

In smart factories, explained team member Nicole Chellman, computers and sensors are integrated with production equipment for communicating remotely, sharing real-time data and making adjustments on the fly.

“Everything communicates with each other,” she said.

Team 16011 is investigating ways to increase manufacturing efficiency using Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality. The students’ augmented reality model, with hologram-like images, allows factory workers and engineers to view guided instructions for assembling and manufacturing small satellites.

“Augmented reality works with virtual components in the real world,” noted team member Seth Werly.

The team also produced a trade study that analyzes certain factors of smart factory technology, including equipment cost and training time.

For their Critical Design Review, students created an animated 3-D model that shows workers how to assemble a 10-by-10-by-10-centimeter weather satellite, or CubeSat.

An animated demo is much easier to understand than written instructions and flat diagrams, said teammate Bryce Roybal.

In the final demonstration during Design Day 2017 on May 1, students wearing HoloLenses will fill the roles of machine operator and engineer reviewing real-time data to identify and fix deficiencies in manufacturing processes.

Project Title: Anti-Drone Device

RaytheonTeam 16003 Members:
Jessica Bingxin Cheung, electrical and computer engineering (team lead)
Sydney Clark, electrical and computer engineering
Ivan Cordoba, electrical and computer engineering
Evan Deforest, mechanical engineering
Justin Larimore, biomedical engineering
Shivani Patel, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Raytheon Missile Systems

Students Take System from Computer Simulation to Reality

We're showing mercy – for now. Team 15003 lead Jessica Cheung holds one of the testing drones while her teammates discuss how they plan to destroy it. From left to right: Evan Deforest, Justin Larimore, Sydney Clark, Cheung, Shivani Patel, and Ivan Cordoba.The Federal Aviation Administration has documented hundreds of close calls between drones and aircraft. Drone swarms are not only dangerous to commercial, rescue and firefighting aviation but they are also a threat to national defense.

Team Dead Drone, sponsored by Raytheon Missile Systems, is designing and assembling a scaled-down anti-drone system, built entirely with off-the-shelf products. The system is expected to detect, track, and electronically or mechanically disable a pair of drones simultaneously.

“We have to show our sponsor that we’re doing the right thing, on their schedule,” said team lead Jessica Bingxin Cheung.

Because Raytheon is particularly interested in the threats commercial drones pose to naval vessels, specs also call for a system that can withstand extreme maritime environments.

The team started with a computerized version of the system that required a user to enter code to disable a simulated drone, something that will be automated in the final project.

The system consists of a microcomputer, LCD screen, Wi-Fi antenna, and a protective case to guard against rain, wind and humidity. Once a drone is detected, the device automatically connects to the drone’s Wi-Fi access point and sends commands via Telnet, an internet protocol for remote communication, to shut it down.

Now that students have experienced success on the computer – and at the Critical Design Review – Team Dead Drone is focused on writing documentation and creating the finished product, which they will demonstrate on the UA Mall at Design Day 2017 on May 1!

Working on the Macadamia Nut Harvester

Project Title: Autonomous Macadamia Nut Harvester Enhancement

UA Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering logoTeam 16063 Members:
Nicklaus Arnold, systems engineering (team lead)
Lexi Corrion, biosystems engineering
Emily Evans, biomedical engineering
Hailey Ogren, biosystems engineering
Jason Stone, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Students Helping Big Island Farms Trim Costs

Working on the Macadamia Nut HarvesterEngineering Design Team 16063 is taking on what a 2015-2016 Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering team built for Kawainui Farms – a robotic nut-harvesting prototype that looks like a low-slung wheelbarrow on steroids – and making it better.

Commercial harvesting of macadamia nuts, one of Hawaii’s most valuable cash crops, is a costly process. It requires at least three types of heavy machinery, each with a single specialized function.

Some growers, like Kawainui Farm, which has a 20-acre macadamia orchard on the Big Island, opt to harvest by hand at the end of the season after all of the nuts have fallen off the trees. But separating low-quality nuts sitting on the ground for up to three months from fresh, high-quality nuts isn’t economically viable, so the farm sells them at a reduced market price.

The 2015-2016 student prototype consisted of a vehicle platform with a hopper for carrying harvested nuts, a sweeper arm and pickup head for collecting them, and electrical components for power and navigation.

Macadamia nut harvester at Design Day 2016This year’s team is looking “to mitigate revenue loss” with design improvements – a new chassis and drive system, retooled sweeper arm, and sloped hopper to make unloading easier and faster – said team lead Nicklaus Arnold.

The team is also upgrading the motor controller’s GPS navigation, which will make a path around the orchard plotted via open-source software called Mission Planner, and improving internal sensors.

If the harvester encounters an unexpected object, explained Emily Evans, it sends an alert to farm employees via a phone app she and her teammates are developing. Other sensors notify operators when the harvester is full so it can be emptied.

Having passed its Critical Design Review and ordered parts, the team is working on assembly and testing. Since the Campus Agricultural Center doesn’t have a macadamia nut orchard, students are creating a one-acre mockup with traffic cones, including a few in unexpected places to test the collision avoidance system.

Be sure to check out the redesigned system negotiating the UA Mall at Design Day 2017 on May 1!

Team 16036 in front of a mining truck

Project Title: Multifrequency Antenna Mast System for Large Mining Trucks

Caterpillar logoTeam 16036 Members:
Robert Bloom, mechanical engineering
Zichong Cai, mechanical engineering
Wyatt Peña, engineering management, minoring in systems and industrial engineering
Miguel Vasquez, engineering management, minoring in mechanical engineering (team lead)
Brian Wargasaki, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Caterpillar

Students Create Light Yet Durable Equipment for Always-On Industry

Mining trucks – weighing 250 tons empty and standing three stories high – use complex electrical systems to enable two-way communications and telemetry. The systems power radios, satellite positioning systems, Wi-Fi and cellular data transfer.

If these systems critical to operations and safety aren’t working, trucks are down.

Haul trucks need antennas with clear line of sight to the sky and offboard transmission stations mounted throughout some mines. Because the steel dump body acts as a signal blocker, antennas are mounted on long poles that extend out from the body and above the truck.

Caterpillar’s specs calling for a light yet durable antenna mast system that can be serviced easily and quickly reflect the mining industry’s need for fleets to operate constantly with as little downtime as possible for maintenance and repairs.

“Time is not just money, it’s money times 10,” said project team member Robert Bloom, a mechanical engineering major planning a career in HVAC design.

Not only are students on Team 16036 designing the mast itself, but they are also creating mounting brackets, antenna mountings and cable routings. And they aren’t just designing truck parts, they are developing an understanding for the management side of engineering, too, particularly what goes into machining parts and how to justify associated the costs.

The team will display their completed antenna mast system on the UA Mall at Design Day 2017 on May 1 – with a Ford pickup standing in for one of those monstrous mining trucks.

Engineering Design Team 16075

Project Title: Bisbee Assisted-Lift Delivery System

Team 16075 Members:
Roberto Cordoba Berigan, electrical and computer engineering
Jakob Davis, mechanical engineering
Aaron Hausman, systems and industrial engineering (team lead)
Wesley Lee, mechanical engineering
Scott Payne, systems and mechanical engineering
Martin Wong, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: City of Bisbee

Residents of Old Mining Town Get a Lift

Engineering Design Team 16075In Bisbee, an Arizona town known as the Queen of Copper Camps and
famous for its 2 miles of municipal stairways, something as mundane as bringing home the groceries can be quite an ordeal.

The Cochise County seat, population 5,575, sits in a valley surrounded by hills, and many of the town’s hillside houses are accessible only by steep stairs.

Imagine an elderly person carrying packages in one hand, grasping a stairway railing with the other and laboring under the effects of mile-high altitude to get groceries or pet food home.

“Between 65 and 75, life changes a lot,” said Bisbee public works director Andy Haratyk, adding that he has heard many stories of elders taking three days to bring in all the groceries from just one shopping trip.

With the help of Engineering Design Team 16075, Haratyk and other city officials are doing something about it.

The team started construction in February 2017 on the Bisbee Assisted-Lift Delivery System. The conveyor that students are building in B Mountain’s 45-home, 30-percent-grade neighborhood is the start of a citywide system.

With inexpensive off-the-shelf parts, the team is creating an assistance device capable of transporting at least 100 pounds of groceries, firewood, trash and recyclables per trip. Residents will use a call button to summon a transport container that travels along a gear-, belt- or chain-powered conveyor system beside the staircase.

In addition to providing real-world experience for soon-to-be UA graduates, the project is giving Bisbee High School students a chance to work alongside team members and apply civil, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering principles.

“Just because you’re from Bisbee doesn’t mean you have to think small,” Haratyk said of the teens’ experience, and the conveyor system.

Project Title: Neighborhood Automatic External Defibrillator Network

Cardiospark logoTeam 16068 Members:
Abdulmajid Alsaeed, industrial engineering
Daniel Davis, electrical and computer engineering
Jacob Garlant, biomedical engineering
Nathan Hancock, biomedical engineering
Rohan Mehta, electrical and computer engineering
Susan Nicholls, mechanical engineering (team lead)

Sponsor: CardioSpark

Lifesaving Neighborhood Network

Response time for 911 emergency calls in most urban areas is 8-10 minutes. But that isn’t fast enough for the 350,000 Americans every year experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, more than 90 percent of whom die. If an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, doesn’t arrive in five to eight minutes, it’s too late.

Wall-mounted AEDs are widely available in schools, libraries, airports and other public places. But chances are no one at home, where most cases of sudden cardiac arrest occur, has a defibrillator on hand.

Engineering Design Team 16068 is helping CardioSpark develop a 911-integrated system whereby home-based AEDS can be remotely monitored, tracked and connected. The system will give emergency medical personnel the means to quickly dispatch and support trained neighborhood responders.

Dr. Carter Newton with an automatic external defibrillator.The Tucson-based biotech startup sponsored two teams last year to advance an affordable, hand-held disposable defibrillator. Now the 2016-2017 CardioSpark-sponsored team is developing radio tags – similar to those used for tracking retail store inventory – that will attach to AEDs and enable communication with the 911 computer-assisted dispatch system.

With a widespread community network of AEDs, response time to incidents of sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death for Americans over 40, could be reduced to three minutes or less, said CardioSpark founder and president Carter Newton, a cardiologist and mechanical engineer.

“We’re giving the students a lot of latitude, and we’re getting the very creative input of problem-solving people,” said Newton, whose company is making plans to pilot test the system in a retirement community 20 miles south of Tucson.

Jeffrey Bristol (center) and his mother Herma with Engineering Design Team 16055

Project Title: Unpowered Exoskeleton

Bristol FamilyTeam 16055 Members:
Martin Galaz, biomedical engineering
Jason Keatseangsilp, biomedical engineering (team lead)
Amanda Koiki, biomedical engineering
Joshua Owl, biomedical engineering
Thomas Valenzuela, biomedical engineering
Cole Waldren, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: The Bristol Family

Family on a Mission Partners with Big-Hearted Students

Jeffrey Bristol (center) and his mother Herma with Engineering Design Team 16055Herma Bristol wasn’t sure what to expect in September 2016 when she joined big-name companies like Caterpillar, Honeywell, Microsoft and Raytheon to recruit students during the Engineering Design Program Open House. She came away from the experience quite impressed with the tall stack of resumes from students eager to work on an unpowered exoskeleton for her son Jeffrey.

Still, the Bristols, whose family and friends contributed funds to sponsor the project, were seeking qualities that wouldn’t necessarily show up on resumes.

“We were looking very specifically for people who had heart,” said Herma, adding that her family also has found plenty of know-how in the six students handpicked for team “Lightning Legs.”

Jeffrey, a UA junior studying accounting, suffered two spontaneous brain bleeds when he was a toddler. He recovered fully from the first and has practiced daily for 18 years to regain skills lost after the second.

The team is replacing a rudimentary device Jeffrey has used for physical therapy with a custom apparatus that will enable him – and possibly others who have cerebral palsy – to maintain an upright position while exercising the muscles needed to walk.

Team members have traveled to Phoenix to meet with collaborators at Barrow Neurological Institute and study a powered body suit, or exoskeleton, used to treat patients with similar conditions. They “got to ask a million questions,” said Herma, a UA College of Education alumna.

They are performing much like meticulous tailors, measuring and re-measuring Jeffrey to accomplish a truly custom fit for the wearable exoskeleton that will support the high-achieving student to keep powering through to a career in certified public accounting.

Dr. Daniel Latt

Project Title: Active-Assist Elbow Flexion Orthosis

Team 16051 Members:
Adriana Barreda, biomedical engineering
Carissa Grijalva, biomedical engineering
Justin Hsieh, agriculture and biosystems engineering
Blakeley Koziol, biomedical engineering
Tim Shimon, biomedical engineering
Gore logoMichael Sveiven, biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering (team lead)

Sponsors: UA College of Medicine and Department of Biomedical Engineering, with additional support from Gore

Flexion Device to Aid Healing

Dr. Daniel LattThis is the third year Dr. Daniel Latt, UA associate professor of orthopedic surgery and assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has sponsored an Engineering Design project. He has nothing but praise for the 2017 team doing its part to fill the “great need” for development of biomedical products.

The students are creating a system that aids elbow surgery patients in healing and regaining normal range of motion.

“They’re doing a fantastic job and drawing on so many different aspects of engineering design,” said the orthopedic surgeon, who hopes one day he and his colleagues will be able to prescribe the flexion device.

The system will include a comfortable, compact elbow brace for post-surgical immobilization; a motor assist mechanism that kicks in to help patients with muscle-strengthening physical therapy exercises; wireless technology for real-time feedback; and a fun, user-friendly mobile app that sends exercise reminders, advises patients on how workouts are going, and provides information to the treatment team.

With the preliminary design review behind them, team members are on to the comprehensive design review and exploring options – developing not just a Plan A or even Plans A and B, but Plans A, B, C, D and E to ensure a successful project.

The team expects to complete a prototype of their system by the end of April, for display and judging at Engineering Design Day 2017 on May 1.

Team 16010 members include, from left to right, Kevin Brinkman, Sandra Araiza Cruz, Fermin Prieto.

Project Title: Nasogastric Tube Placement Verification System

Xeridiem logoTeam 16010 Members:
Kevin Brinkman, biomedical engineering
Sandra Araiza Cruz, biomedical engineering
Dalton Hughes, electrical and computer engineering (team lead)
Fermin Prieto, biomedical engineering
Alex Thompson, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Xeridiem

Life-Threatening Problem

Every year, an estimated 5,000 Americans die from complications caused by misplacement of nasogastric and orogastric tubes, which deliver nutrition and medication into the stomachs of patients who are unable to chew or swallow.

Health care providers and caregivers commonly place tubes blindly then verify placement by drawing fluid out of the stomach, injecting air into the stomach and listening with a stethoscope, or, in hospital settings, using X-rays. Lung injuries and other serious complications can arise when a tube is misplaced or migrates out of the stomach.

Big Shoes to Fill in 2017

Team 16010 is continuing the work of last year’s Xeridiem-sponsored team, which developed a system that gives instant feedback on feeding tube placement.

The 2016 team won two first-prize awards at the University of Arizona’s Engineering Design Day and presented the device at the annual Capstone Design Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Team leader Summer Garland is now employed by Xeridiem.

Team 16010 members, from left to right, Kevin Brinkman, Sandra Araiza Cruz, Fermin PrietoSimple, Effective Solution

Team 16010 is using the stomach’s specific acid pH ranges – between 1.5 and 3.5 – to make the device’s sensor more sensitive and eliminate the possibility of false positive results, such as those triggered by saliva.

“You’d think it would have been done a long time ago,” said Kevin Brinkman, working alongside other students over the winter break to improve the device.

The goal, said teammate Fermin Prieto, is to make tube placement and verification so easy that “caregivers can do it at home.”

EMILY lifesaving system inside high-visibility cover.

Project Title: Automated Rescue Launch Canister System for EMILY

Hydronalix logoTeam 15007 Members:
Benjamin Bell, mechanical engineering
Joseph Lamont, mechanical engineering
Kevin Morris, electrical and computer engineering
Devin Slack, electrical and computer engineering
Colton Sviba, systems engineering
Benjamin Yates, electrical and computer engineering

Project Title: Sonar Module Integration for EMILY Rescue Robot

Team 15008 Members:
Jeremy Burris, industrial engineering
Jordan Driggs, mechanical engineering
Uriel Garcia, electrical and computer engineering
Matthew Sybrant, systems engineering
Jessica Toll, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Hydronalix

Life-Saving Remote Control Buoy

EMILY lifesaving system inside high-visibility cover.About 100 Americans die every year fighting rip currents. Swimming a few strokes parallel to the beach – to the edge of the typically narrow-channel flow – and catching a wave back to shore is the best escape route. However, inexperienced swimmers tend to panic when they feel as though they are being sucked out to sea and struggle futilely against the current.

EMILY to the rescue.

The Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard, or EMILY, isn’t fazed by stormy weather, cold water or rough surf. With a top speed of 22 mph, the remote-control rescue buoy can reach endangered swimmers up to six times faster than a human lifeguard and handle up to six people at a time, a feature that proved its worth when the robot aided in the 2015 rescue of 300 Syrian migrants near the Greek island of Lesbos.

Swimmers use the boat-like buoy to stay afloat until a rescue raft arrives or hold onto a rope around EMILY’s hull as it is guided back to shore.

EMILY is manufactured by Hydronalix, a company based in Sahuarita, Arizona, that sponsored two 2016 UA Engineering Design Program projects to refine the robot’s capabilities. Team 15007 developed a self-contained canister to automate deployment and help direct the buoy. Team 15008, which earned the W.L. Gore and Associates Award for Most Creative Solution, designed a sonar addition for underwater search and rescue.

Making a Good Thing Better

Although EMILY is relatively light, heaving 25 pounds off a coastal pier isn’t easy. So Team 15007 created an automated launch system. The setup relies on two infrared cameras to penetrate darkness, fog and heavy rain; locate struggling swimmers; and initiate launch of the buoy.

When the cameras, mounted on a pan-tilt unit on EMILY’s canister, spot a person in distress, actuators hoist the canister to the angle needed for EMILY to clear the pier, the canister’s front door opens, and the buoy slides out on rollers into the water. Once EMILY hits the water, leaving the canister behind, one camera stays fixed on the victim while the other focuses on the buoy, enabling rescuers to use coordinates for guidance.

Going Even Deeper

Murky waters can be dangerous for divers. In a separate application, Team 15008 integrated a Humminbird sonar into EMILY and mounted a waterproof camera on its bow to deliver real-time video to mobile devices, turning the robot into an underwater search and recovery device that scans for and identifies submerged objects.

Hydronalix CEO Tony Mulligan envisions the sonar-equipped version of EMILY as an early warning device in shark-infested waters like those off the Southern California coast. Instead of relying on costly aerial reconnaissance, authorities can deploy EMILY to areas where the great white sharks may be, and if they’re spotted, lifeguards can clear the water of swimmers and close nearby beaches.

Mission Accomplished

Mulligan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1988 and has been named to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and The Lemelson Foundation’s 2016-2017 Class of Invention Ambassadors, praised the teams for their hard work and professionalism, saying, “They’ll become excellent engineers.”

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.

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.

Team 15040 with Best Overall Design check

Project Title: On-Slide Reagent Concentration Feedback and Control

Ventana Medical Systems Inc. logoTeam 15040 Members:
Collin Gilchrist, biomedical engineering
Jamie Hernandez, biomedical engineering
Shawn Iles, optical sciences and engineering
Pete Moya, biomedical engineering
Tyler Toth, biomedical engineering
Danton Whittier, systems engineering

Sponsor: Ventana Medical Systems Inc.

Noninvasive slide staining technique earns top Design Day prize

Team 15040 with Best Overall Design checkYou may have encountered the field of histopathology without ever realizing it. Simply put, histopathology is a microscopic examination of a tissue sample taken via surgery or biopsy.

Because the results can be a matter of life or death, accurate measurements are crucial. This extends to the fluid — known as ionic buffer solution — that binds to the sample. Its ionic concentration must remain constant. Variations can adversely affect the quality of the staining used to highlight abnormalities in tissue.

Team 15040’s senior design project provided test labs with a way to precisely measure the ionic concentration of the buffer solution on histopathological slides. Their work was recognized at Engineering Design Day 2016 with the highest honor, the $2,000 Raytheon Award for Best Overall Design.

The Raytheon Award goes to the team that most effectively meets judging criteria, devises a well-thought-out solution that has been rigorously tested, and offers a professional and easy-to-understand poster and presentation.

The project’s sponsor, Ventana Medical Systems Inc., is a Tucson-based manufacturer of medical diagnostic systems and biopsy-based cancer tests. Ventana is a member of the Roche Group, a global health care company with headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

The company has sponsored at least two senior design teams each year since 2011; this year it sponsored four.

“They’re high-risk, high-reward projects,” said on-campus mentor Greg Ogden. “They challenge the students to try far-off things and see if they work.”

Ogden, a research associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arizona who just finished his sixth year as an Engineering Design Program mentor, praised Team 15040 for rising to Ventana’s expectations.

All of the team’s work had to be at the highest level, including behind-the-scenes aspects like team meeting agendas, minutes, and after-meeting action items and follow-throughs.

“We treated them like employees,” said Lisa Jones, a development systems integration manager with Ventana who served as the team’s sponsor-mentor and adviser.

Ogden cited the team’s deft handling of a fall-semester challenge as a game-changer that helped them prevail. One of their early design concepts, using a refractometer, was not considered viable by Ventana.

We’ll prove that it is, replied the team. And they did, with preliminary research findings that sold the company on their idea.

The final product includes a laser that refracts light into the solution; the aforementioned refractometer, which provides real-time measurements of the solution’s ionic concentration; and a graphical user interface for data display. Jones praised the touch-screen interface for its ease of use, especially for busy lab staff, who “don’t have time to bugger around with equipment.”

Perhaps most critical, the technique enables lab staff to conduct the entire measuring and reporting process without touching the sample — thereby avoiding risk of contamination. It satisfies Ventana’s requirement for a noninvasive system. The company has filed for provisional patent protection.

The combination of lofty standards and challenging projects led to success for Ventana’s 2016 Design Day teams. “Three of our four teams won,” Jones says.

Team 15065

Project Title: Commercial-off-the-Shelf Infrastructure for a 1U CubeSat

Raytheon logoTeam 15065 Members:
Benjamin Bossler, mechanical engineering
Reed Hubbell, mechanical engineering
Alfie Tsang, systems engineering
Dean Whitman, aerospace engineering
Kaitlyn Williams, optical sciences and engineering
Steven Wirth, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Raytheon Missile Systems

Sending sensors to space at lower cost

Team 15065

A standard space-ready CubeSat microsatellite measures 10 centimeters on each side, fits in the palm of your hand and costs roughly $40,000.

Sponsored by Raytheon Missile Systems, Team 15065 is designing a CubeSat that costs less than $5,000 and uses off-the-shelf components. One of the novel features of the low-cost satellite is that its frame is manufactured using 3-D printing and appropriate resins.

The redesigned CubeSat will be used to take environmental measurements in space.

“We are creating a satellite with parts that anyone can buy online,” said Alfie Tsang, systems test lead.

These parts include a memory chip, a microcontroller, a temperature sensor, a transceiver, a signal modulator and solar panels.

The technology inside the satellite must survive harsh launch conditions and extreme temperatures while running for up to 24 hours without power and engaging in risky interactions with space junk.

The team started out with a standard solid-printed CubeSat provided by the sponsor as an example. In addition to funding the project, Raytheon Missile Systems has provided 3-D printing services to the team.

“We are very fortunate that we can get our parts printed through our sponsor with a one-day turnaround,” said team lead Kaitlyn Williams. “This allowed us to rapidly perfect our mechanical structures while assembling our CubeSat.”

The team assembled their CubeSat in April and verified that it met all system design goals. They will display their prototype at Engineering Design Day 2016 on May 3.

Team 15043

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.

Timer-controlled valve limits impact of hidden leaks

Team 15043

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than one trillion gallons of water are lost in household leaks in the U.S. each year. Toilet malfunctions account for most of the loss.

For homeowners, the impact of toilet leaks extends to structural damage and health hazards like increased mold and bacterial growth.

QuakeWrap Inc., a Tucson-based company founded by a former College of Engineering professor, has tasked a group of students with mitigating the risk for disaster.

Team 15043 is working on a system that does more than detect leaks in American-style toilets – it stops them before they can escalate into household catastrophes.

The students have designed a secondary valve system that limits water flow with a timer. When the toilet is flushed, a chain flips a switch inside the tank. The switch opens a valve and starts the timer, which can be adjusted to allow for different water flow rates on different toilets. When the timer goes off, the valve closes. If a leak develops or a hose breaks, the valve will not let any water into the toilet, essentially eliminating risk of the toilet flooding.

Subtlety is a key feature for the system. “If your toilet is functioning normally, you’ll never know it’s there,” team member Matthew Britton explained. “However, if there’s a leak, you’ll only lose the water in the tank, and you’ll know there’s a leak because there will be no water in the toilet.”

As Engineering Design Day approaches on May 3, the team is waterproofing the switch and completing the electrical system for the control box.

Meanwhile, the sponsors are filing a patent application on the students’ results.

Team 15030; Justine Bacchus and Brennen Guy

Project Title: Water Processing and Cleaning for Reuse

Shamrock Farms logoTeam 15030 Members:
Justine Bacchus, biomedical engineering
Brennen Guy, mechanical engineering
Cory Luke, biomedical engineering
Edward Mackay, engineering management
Nicholas Siegel, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Shamrock Foods

Triple-filtration process uses natural methods to clear dairy debris

Team 15030; Justine Bacchus and Brennen Guy

Water conservation is a major concern for arid Arizona – and for food-service distributor Shamrock Foods, which supplies fresh dairy products and other comestibles to the Southwest.

The company’s Phoenix location alone averages 500,000 gallons of industrial wastewater per day, and replacing all that water costs almost half a million dollars per year.

Shamrock Foods has enlisted Team 15030 to boost water use efficiency in its distribution centers by recycling wastewater back into production without adding any potentially harmful chemicals.

The team is relying on natural biological processes to filter the water the factory uses to steam-clean and rinse milk containers.

The first step of their reclamation process uses a bioreactor made from a high-powered bubbler and bio-ring filters, like those found in fish tanks, to break down organic waste and pull out large particulates. A reverse-osmosis system then removes smaller pollutants. Finally, the water is pumped through an ultraviolet filtration system, which kills leftover bacteria and leaves clean, serviceable water.

The design returns 70 percent of the wastewater to the factory floor for reuse.

“Getting clean sources of water is a big problem for Southwestern states,” said team member Brennen Guy. “For a company to use recycled water is a huge step.”

The team is currently building a prototype of the system and testing each section separately before assembly. They expect to finish the project by the end of April for presentation to the public on Engineering Design Day on May 3.

Project Title: Autonomous Indoor Mapping System

UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering logoTeam 15017 Members:
Xander Deputy, optical sciences and engineering
Kevin Fox, electrical and computer engineering
Christopher Meyer, systems engineering
Cody Mitts, mechanical engineering
Jiaxiang Wang, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Self-steering machine to measure and map room dimensions

Team 15017 discusses their projectCreating blueprints for existing buildings requires the skills of specially trained surveyors and drafters. Using an idea by Regents’ Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Michael Marcellin, Team 15017 is designing an autonomous vehicle that will scan the interior of a building to produce electronic architectural drawings.

The robot will have an integrated autopilot system to steer it from room to room. Infrared sensors and a 360-degree laser scanner will take the measurements to display on a computer screen.

“We believe the device could be used by construction crews and realty companies to visualize a building site or house,” said team member Jiaxiang Wang.

The students hope to add a bonus 3-D mapping feature, not required in the initial project mission, to produce visually integrated walkthroughs.

Teammate Cody Mitts said, “The key to all of this is software. Having a robust program to fulfill the tasks is important.”

The team has assembled the vehicle’s frame and is now implementing the infrared camera and laser scanner. Soon they will begin testing circuits in the remote control and vehicle body.

They expect to build and test their prototype by late April or early May, in time to display on Engineering Design Day.

Team leader Lindsey Carlson works on the autonomous vehicle navigation device.
Project Title: Autonomous Vehicle Navigation Test Bed

UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering logoTeam 15016 Members:
Abdulaziz Al Moaigel, mechanical engineering
Matthew Burger, electrical and computer engineering
Lindsey Carlson, systems engineering
Junhwa Song, electrical and computer engineering
Bo Xiao, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Creating and coding tools to help autonomous vehicles navigate

Team leader Lindsey Carlson works on the autonomous vehicle navigation device.Team 15016 is helping David Gaylor, associate professor of practice in the UA department of aerospace and mechanical engineering, to develop a test bed for autonomous vehicle navigation systems.

The students are building a prototype device with an omnidirectional wheel system, wireless radio-frequency network communication and onboard navigational programming capabilities.

Researchers will design their own devices using this base unit and load them with custom guidance, navigation and control software that reveals where the autonomous vehicle thinks it is in an arena lined with infrared cameras. The researchers can compare their data to information from the cameras, which show the vehicle’s true position and orientation, to determine the efficacy of their algorithms.

“The challenge is the software,” said team leader Lindsey Carlson. He expects the team to spend many hours programming and testing their code with the hardware.

Electrical and computer engineering majors Matthew Burger and Junhwa Song are currently writing the code. The team is working to make the unit functional for new users and expects to have a running prototype by Engineering Design Day 2016 on May 3.

Dakota Luepke talks with rest of Team 15036 about the next steps on their project.
Project Title: Humidity Control in Spacesuits

Paragon Space Development Corp. logoTeam 15036 Members:
Hailey Davenport, biomedical engineering
Dakota Luepke, materials science and engineering
Joel Mintz, biomedical engineering
Kathryn Pflueger, biomedical engineering
Andrew Siemens, mechanical engineering
Lindsay Small, systems engineering

Sponsor: Paragon Space Development Corp.

Helping astronauts breathe a little easier

Dakota Luepke talks with rest of Team 15036 about the next steps on their project.Water buildup inside spacesuits can lead to a host of equipment problems. Conversely, portable life support systems installed in spacesuits tend to overdesiccate breathable air, causing discomfort for astronauts.

Team 15036 aims to alleviate both issues by improving water reclamation inside spacesuits.

The dry air is caused by the Rapid Cycle Amine system, or RCA, which removes waste carbon dioxide. The students are using the Nafion bundle technology developed by project sponsor Paragon Space Development Corp. to divert a small amount of moisture from the RCA.

“One of our biggest hurdles is figuring out whether to put the Nafion bundles in a series or parallel configuration,” said team member Kathryn Pflueger. “We will also have to think about the effect of zero gravity.”

The team has already constructed a mathematical model for the system. They expect to begin building and testing their prototype at the Paragon labs in March, after presenting their detailed design and model to the company for final approval.

Team 15044 discuss their project around a table
Project Title: Deep-Water Sensor System

Texas Instruments logoTeam 15044 Members:
Matthew Ray Barragan, electrical and computer engineering
Austin Anthony Nawrocki, mechanical engineering
Nikitha Ramohalli, electrical and computer engineering
Alex Yudkovitz, systems engineering
Yi Zhang, electrical and computer engineering 

Sponsor: Texas Instruments

Team 15044 discuss their project around a tableTeam 15044 is charged with designing a small sensor system to take scientific data in deep water and transmit it long-distance to a base station on the surface, at minimal cost.

The probe – which measures pressure, temperature, acoustics and pH levels that indicate pollution concentrations – must be able to accept commands and power from the base station. The team is developing software to control and monitor the sensor. The most critical testing will evaluate in simulated but realistic lab conditions the signal strength and accuracy between sensor and station.

The team is working hard to meet as many objectives as possible by Design Day. During winter break in late December, team member Matthew Barragan started creating the controller and programming its interface, while electrical and computer engineering majors Nikitha Ramohalli and Yi Zhang began designing the base station’s electrical system.

The team remains cognizant of time and budgetary concerns, but their progress over break gives them a spring-semester advantage.

“The biggest challenge is to make sure our design actually works when we translate our plans from paper to machine,” said team leader Alex Yudkovitz.

The EMILY robotic lifeguard system at the Design Program open house
Project Title: Sonar Module Integration for the EMILY Rescue Boat

Hydronalix logoTeam 15008 Members:
Jeremy Burris, industrial engineering
Jordan Driggs, mechanical engineering
Uriel Garcia, electrical and computer engineering
Matthew Sybrant, systems engineering
Jessica Vickers Toll, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Hydronalix

The EMILY robotic lifeguard system at the Design Program open houseResembling a small red motorboat and weighing only 25 pounds, the EMILY robotic lifeguard can reach drowning swimmers up to six times faster than a human lifeguard, serve as a flotation device for six people, and operate in weather and surf conditions that impede traditional rescue methods.

Team 15008 is integrating a sonar system onto the EMILY rescue boat, enabling underwater scanning in search and recovery missions. Additionally, sponsor Hydronalix has asked the team to mount a front-facing waterproof camera onboard to provide a real-time water-level video feed.

The team’s greatest challenge is establishing and maintaining wireless communication between the user and EMILY. Team members also must integrate the sonar entirely within EMILY’s flotation cover, making the boat available for multiple missions with a simple cover exchange.

This project is not team leader Matthew Sybrant’s first foray into marine technologies. He spent several years in the Navy as a radar technician and anticipates great success.

“We have a stellar team, and we are all confident that we can meet these goals,” Sybrant said.

Teammate and fellow Raytheon intern Jordan Driggs has been excited to contribute.

“I wanted an engineering challenge and knew this was the kind of project that would have good people on it,” he said.

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.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
PSE Archery logoUniversity of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498After sponsoring a 2015 UA Engineering Design team that helped double its rate of compound bow production, without increasing the number of employees on the assembly line, Precision Shooting Equipment is back for a second year. This time to create an affordable American-made crossbow for beginning shooters.

Team 1402’s time studies during the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 tracked assembly-line movement of the crossbow, employees and resources. Based on results of the study, which determined precisely how long each assembly operation took, the team recommended cutting batch size to promote single-piece flow, redesigning the assembly floor layout, and implementing a conveyor belt, system designs the company has built on to significantly decrease cost of production of its hand-assembled crossbows. Members of the team included systems engineering majors Bryan Krause and Michael Miramontez, mechanical engineering seniors Clark Pedersen and Robert McLean, industrial engineering senior Ryan Saunders, and electrical engineering major Chris Carr.

This year, UA Interdisciplinary Engineering Design Team 15022 has big shoes to fill.

Mechanical engineering seniors Joseph Lucero, Austin Masterson and Ahmed Mustafawi, systems engineering student Matthew Modean, and materials science and engineering major Kyle Vinh Nguyen are tasked with creating a crossbow constructed at least 80 percent from components already available at PSE’s Tucson, Arizona, facilities.

PSE, one of the world’s largest privately owned archery equipment manufacturers, intends to expand its manufacturing repertoire with its own version of the Taiwan-imported Fang 350.

“We want to build a crossbow valued at $299 to $399, something that is lightweight, fast and quiet,” said Bret Simon, PSE vice president of operations. “There is no reason we can’t make our own product right here in Tucson.”

lockheed martin_51A7266_00Members of Engineering Design Team 1425 presented their 2015 project in August at the largest international multidisciplinary optical sciences and technology gathering in North America, the SPIE Optics + Photonics Conference. Mechanical engineering graduates Richard Bates and Harrison Herzog and senior Jeremy Smith drew the attention of hundreds in San Diego as they demonstrated their 3-D printed mirror – strong enough to endure the polishing process and stiff enough to eliminate print-through.

“Our room was almost full, and there were people standing in the back of the room. They wanted to see what we had done,” said Bates. “We were lucky to be sponsored by Lockheed Martin, go to the conference and network with people in the industry.”

About 180 companies were represented at the 2015 conference, with an attendance of more than 4,500.

“Normally with metal optics you have stress on the optics from mounting it,” Smith explained. “This way the mounting is already done, and there is an optical mirror ready to go.”

Key challenges included reducing the mirror’s porosity and determining the best polishing methods.

“I think we are among the first to polish a material within a 3-D printer,” said Smith.

While the team was not able to perfect the process – the 3-D printer used to make the optical mirror created bubbles on the surface of the titanium during the manufacturing process – the project, “Optical Fabrication of Light-Weighted 3-D Printed Mirrors,” proved the feasibility of metal 3-D printing of optical mirrors.

“3-D printing has not made it yet with what we were doing, but I think 3-D will get to that point; we just need more time,” said Bates, who is now employed with Apple in California. Herzog is at NASA, and Smith is looking forward to graduating in December.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498


More sponsors and students than ever before filled the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union on Aug. 28, 2015, for the Engineering Design Program’s Open House. The kickoff event provided an opportunity for 368 engineering seniors to meet with industry and faculty sponsors to discuss 70 projects.


Richard Fox of Honeywell (left) talks with a potential student regarding his project during Open House. (Photo by Julian Ybarra)

“We are pleased that our sponsors recognize the great value in this program,” said Ara Arabyan, director of the Engineering Clinic at the University of Arizona, which oversees the Engineering Design Program. “This is a course where students transition to professional careers, and employers see opportunities to recruit tried and tested top talent.”

Companies also say the program is an opportunity to advance new technology.

“Industry doesn’t have anything like the project we have proposed,” said Honeywell’s Richard Fox.
“If the students succeed, we will have a potential new design that can be applied in industry.”

New Companies, New Ideas

Along with longtime multiproject industry sponsors such as Raytheon Missile Systems, Honeywell Aerospace, Ventana Medical Systems (Roche Group), Texas Instruments and B/E Aerospace, this year’s Open House welcomed several new companies, among them powerhouses Procter & Gamble, Southwest Gas and Shamrock Foods, as well as local companies Western Design Center, PACE Technologies, ACSS (L-3 Communications), Control Vision, Hydronalix, Lightsense Technology, Xeridiem Medical Devices, Universal Avionics, Securaplane Technologies, and CardioSpark. Back in the mix for their second year of sponsorships were Tucson Electric Power, Lincus Energy, NeuroMetrix and PSE-Archery.

Check out all of the 2016 Engineering Senior Design projects and sponsors.
The projects areas are as varied as their sponsors, for example:

  • From a heart rate monitor for athletes to a laser based collision prevention system, Texas Instruments’ five projects alone cover a wide range of designs.
  • Shamrock Foods is exploring a way to recycle and reuse 500,000 gallons of water used daily in processing and cleaning.
  • Hydronalix is sponsoring two project to advance its robotic rescue system, Emily, a 4-foot-long, remote-controlled buoy that cruises at speeds up to 22 mph to reach distressed swimmers.
  • Newcomer Xeridiem’s project focuses on more effective use of nasogastric tubes for patients unable to ingest food and medication orally.

Familiar Faces, Full Circle

Some graduates of ENGR 498, the course that encompasses the Senior Design Program, traded in their roles as students for those of sponsors, recruiting the perfect students for the perfect project.

Ben Subeck and Huy Le, who graduated in 2015, returned for this year’s Open House as representatives for Raytheon.

“Without the 498 program, I wouldn’t have the experience I have now, and I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career,” said Subeck. “There are things I have applied on the job that I only gained through the program.”

Boeing representative Danielle Craig (Class of 2011) added, “My executives love that we do this. Every year after Engineering Design Day, I give a presentation of what the students did… That’s why we keep coming back, because it’s such a good program.”

Check out the photos from Open House!

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: Design and Demonstration of a Head-Up Display honeywell

Team 1405 Members:
Adam Blumer, optical sciences and engineering
Michael Green, systems engineering
Matthew Hart, mechanical engineering
Erick Leon, systems engineering
Nick Paco, electrical engineering
Stephania Vasilieva, systems engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell

1405_webTeam 1405’s holographic head-up display, or HUD, was a double award winner at Engineering Design Day 2015. Team members took home the Honeywell Excellence in Aerospace Electronic System Design Award and the II-VI Optical Systems Award for Best Use of Optical Design and Technology.

Using holographic waveguide technology, the HUD puts images of real-time flight and aircraft performance data in front of pilots, which allows them to stay focused on the outside world. The device has the potential to reduce eye fatigue and improve safety during takeoff and landing in poor visibility and degraded weather conditions.

“I’ve always been into airplanes. Since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be a pilot,” said team leader Erick Leon, who also won the Honeywell Team Leadership Award. “Even though I have a pilot’s license, I enjoy supporting the pilots by creating technology for planes and making the passenger experience better.”

Not only was the project an award winner, but Leon was a job winner. Just after graduation he began working with Honeywell full-time as an application engineer, testing avionics – electronics and instruments – in commercial airplanes.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: Sabino Canyon VTOL UAVrincon-research-corporation-squarelogo

Team 1463 Members:
Rita Ezeugwu, aerospace engineering
Nestor Franco, aerospace engineering
Nicolle Hervey, aerospace engineering
Youra Jun, aerospace engineering
Sean Parker, aerospace engineering
Steven Rishor, aerospace engineering
Yiming Zhang, aerospace engineering

Sponsor: Rincon Research Corp.

1463_webThe final product was a UAV with a fixed wing and tail, five motors and propellers, and a flight controller that switched between hover, slow forward flight and fast forward flight.

The surveillance drone performed as expected – it could take off and land vertically and move through mountains and canyons. The team’s performance earned members the 2015 Ventana Award for Innovation in Engineering.

At times, however, success of the Rincon Research Corporation-sponsored mission – create a UAV that can take off vertically, fly to a location four miles away, cruise at an altitude of 500 feet in a half square mile, then return within 30 minutes – seemed impossible.

“We were having a problem with the center of gravity,” explained team leader Steven Rishor. “Whenever it took off, it would want to divert to the aft section, so it would go straight backwards.”

With a hybrid aircraft that combined the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of an H-frame quadcopter and the flight characteristics of a fixed-wing aircraft, the team was finally in business.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: X-56A DART: Dynamically Scaled Aircraft for Research and Testing Nasaafosr_logolockheed martin

Team 1461 Members:
Rosanna Bether, aerospace engineering
Kristofer Drozd, aerospace engineering
Phillip Greenberg, aerospace engineering
Brianna Grembowski, aerospace engineering
Harry Powell, aerospace engineering

Sponsors: Lockheed Martin, Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NASA

Remotely piloted experimental aircraft are key to testing new aircraft designs.1461_web

Team 1461 worked on modifying the X-56A, which originally had a swept-wing configuration. They developed a half-scale model of the experimental aircraft with straight wings and a tail.

The Dynamically Scaled Aircraft for Research Testing, or DART, will be used to assess the safety and efficiency of various wing configurations – flexible, rigid, straight and swept – in aircraft design.

For their outstanding modifications, the team received the CAID Industries Innovation in Manufacturing Award at Engineering Design Day 2015.

The DART’s successful design was not the only accomplishment that made the team proud.

“We had a lot to do, and one of the biggest things I learned was how to communicate about a very technical project with people who are not as technically experienced,” said team member Phillip Greenberg, who described the design project as the best part of his college experience.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: Electromechanical Shaft Disconnect for Generatorshoneywell logo

Team 1420 Members:
Isaiah Bruno, mechanical engineering
Ivy Hasman, materials science and engineering
Jose Luttmann, mechanical engineering
Michel Mora, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell

Congratulations to Team 1420 for winning the Rincon Research Best Presentation Award at Engineering Design Day 2015.1420

The team advanced development of a new type of electromechanical shaft to disconnect an aircraft generator from engine output in the event of an electrical short or bearing failure.

Aircraft generators are driven by the engines and help provide electrical power. The problem with current disconnect mechanisms is that they can result in irreparable and costly generator damage.

“What they have between the aircraft engine and the generator is a called a shear point,” explained team member Ivy Hasman. “The shear point breaks apart the shaft, so that the engine is still spinning with the generator disengaged, but now there is still a broken shaft.”

The new electromechanical shaft disconnect allows the engine to continue providing power to the aircraft without further damaging the generator.

“The purpose is to save the entire generator from complete failure,” said team member Jose Luttmann. He added, “We were limited in what we could do, but we’re pretty confident that the device will work on a large-scale model.”

Honeywell, which sponsored the project, is considering the design for future use.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498

Project Title: Super-Stainer Precision Thermal Controlventana logo

Team 1427 Members:
Ziad Alrayes, industrial engineering
Cody Kalmick, mechanical engineering
Koriel Lambson, mechanical engineering
Marissa Lopez-Pier, biomedical engineering
Chris Sanford, electrical engineering
Amy Vaughn, biomedical engineering

Sponsor: Ventana Medical Systems Inc.

Sometimes trial and error pays off. It did for Team 1427. 1427

The team took second place in the Raytheon Sensintel Best Overall Design competition at Engineering Design Day 2015.

With off-the-shelf components, Team 1427 developed a more efficient system for microscopic examination of tissue samples. The system allows for testing a sample at three different temperatures.

“The point of thermal control is that instead of running three different tests under three different temperatures, you can run one thermal test across a single microscope,” explained team member Chris Sanford.

The project expanded on existing slide-staining techniques, in which tissue is attached to a slide by a process called heat fixing and a dye is added to the samples to make cells and cell components easier to view.

Team members, with the help of mentors Chris Donat, Kenyon Kehl and Steven Lei, had several challenges to overcome — like figuring out which materials would make the best slide base without contaminating the sample.

Marissa Lopez-Pier was in constant contact with project sponsor Ventana Medical Systems as the team worked through the different possibilities.

“We couldn’t use certain metals that would give off contaminants, or material that gives off ions like iron and copper that have an electrical charge,” she said.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: Advanced Farrier System

Brethren ArmamentTeam 1414 Members:
Lindsay Bahureksa, biomedical engineering
Lindsey Conklin, biomedical engineering
Matt Ellison, systems and industrial engineering
Jacob Landsiedel, optical sciences and engineering
Quinn McIntosh, mechanical engineering
Jovan Vance, electrical and computer engineering

Sponsor: Brethren Systems

1414_hoofWhen it comes to equine foot health, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

Team 1414 was amazed that methods for shoeing horses and keeping hooves healthy often rely heavily on nonempirical data — for example, observations of how a horse stands.

“Detecting foot maladies in horses and making sure the horses’ shoes fit correctly is still based largely on anecdotal evidence,” said team member and sponsor Quinn McIntosh of Brethren Systems.

The team’s affordable Advanced Farrier System, designed to detect potential ailments during the shoeing of horses — before the horse ever shows signs of disease or lameness — won both the Edmund Optics Perseverance and Recovery Award and the Sargent Aerospace & Defense Voltaire Design Award at Engineering Design Day 2015.

The Advanced Farrier System uses a film that reacts differently to varying amounts of pressure. When a horse steps on the film, differences in color represent pressure points on the hoof and indicate potential problems.

“We have developed a simple, low-cost, user-friendly system for horse owners, veterinarians, farriers and other horse care professionals,” McIntosh said.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498

Project Title: Autonomous Mappingece

Team 1412 Members:
Jeremy Hibbs, electrical and computer engineering
Travis Kibler, systems and industrial engineering
Jesse Odle, optical sciences and engineering
Rachel Powers, electrical and computer engineering
Thomas Schucker, electrical and computer engineering
Alex Warren, computer science

Sponsor: UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

1412Team 1412, sponsored by the University of Arizona department of electrical and computer engineering, is creating a quad-copter to map buffelgrass for the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, or SABCC.

The rapid spread of buffelgrass is a pressing environmental issue in the Sonoran Desert. Buffelgrass turns the fire-resistant desert into a flammable grassland and threatens to supplant native plants, such as the saguaro cactus and ironwood tree, and destroy habitat for wildlife, including the desert tortoise and mule deer.

“SABCC has volunteers who go out and visually mark and inspect buffelgrass locations. An alternative is to hire a private helicopter crew to take pictures of the grass. The volunteer work is time-consuming and labor-intensive; the helicopter option is expensive. The quad-copter we are building costs less, is safer and easier to use, and requires fewer people,” explained team member Travis Kibler.

“It navigates using GPS way-points, which we upload into the autopilot. The quad-copter autonomously takes off, flies to the way-points, avoiding any obstacles, and continues its mission. Once the images are taken, we upload them into software we are writing and stitch together the images to create a huge image map of the area.”

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: The Firebird UAV Honeywell Logo

Team 1424 Members:
Michael Bramer, mechanical engineering
Fabian De La Pena Montero, electrical and computer engineering
Elizabeth Greene, systems and industrial engineering
Zac Petruska, electrical and computer engineering
Claira Safi, electrical and computer engineering
Kyle Smith, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Honeywell Aerospace

1424Team 1424, sponsored by Honeywell Aerospace, is developing a small tactical unmanned aerial vehicle to help firefighters quickly and efficiently get information about fires. The project builds on the military’s T-Hawk, applying that technology to a drone for commercial use.

“Firefighters have limited information available to them when they first show up at the scene of a fire. They station five crew members around the fire perimeter just to survey the fire itself,” said team member Lizzie Greene.

The drone will help diagnosis a fire with minimum personnel and greatly reduced risk.

“Our UAV will be launched from the fire truck before the team even arrives on the scene,” Greene said.

“The camera on the UAV will give them information such as the size of the fire, where it’s headed and how hot it’s burning. The UAV will also survey for any dangerous gases resulting from the fire.”

Additional design challenges included ensuring the drone could withstand temperatures of 200 degrees Fahrenheit and creating a control panel to help it stabilize in turbulent conditions.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498

Title: Robotic Ordnance Neutralizer (RON)raytheon-logo

Team 1415 Members:
Elisa Duarte, systems and industrial engineering
Jeremy Gin, electrical and computer engineering
Jaime Lara Martinez, electrical and computer engineering
Mark Roche, electrical and computer engineering
Cassandra Kammerman, mechanical engineering
Greg Stanford, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Raytheon Missile Systems

top prize teamTeam 1415, sponsored by Raytheon Missile Systems, is working on a Robotic Ordnance Neutralizer to trigger small, hard-to-find improvised explosive devices — known as “toe-poppers” for their low explosive charge — in the paths of soldiers on patrol.

“When troops traverse urban environments on combat missions, they often come across hidden, pressure-sensitive IEDs that can maim them,” said team member Elisa Duarte. “We are designing an unmanned ground vehicle system to neutralize hidden IEDs by applying a certain pressure to the ground as it moves along ahead of military personnel.”

The team is working on RON’s explosive neutralization mechanism and developing solutions for increasing the unmanned vehicle’s maximum speed from 3 miles per hour to 6 miles per hour. The vehicle is expected to cover a 5-foot-wide path, while still being able to pass through a standard-width doorway, and detonate the explosives from a safe distance of 15 feet.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498
Project Title: Delivery of an Endovascular Device for a Bifurcating Vascular AnatomySDPM_0001_STBL

Team 1429 Members
Andrea Acuna, biomedical engineering
Sean Ashley, optical sciences and engineering
Matthew Davis, biomedical engineering
Matt Kirk, systems and industrial engineering
Marysol Luna, biomedical engineering
Carmelo Moraila, mechanical engineering

Sponsor: Jonathan Vande Geest, director of the UA Soft Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory

winner13Team 1429 is designing, fabricating and testing an endovascular device for the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm, known as AAA, which is an enlargement of the lower part of the aorta, a major blood vessel that runs from the heart through the center of the chest and abdomen. Treatments include open surgical repair and endovascular aortic repair, in which a stent graft is placed inside the aorta via a catheter to relieve pressure on the wall of the aorta.

As an alternative to the rigid metal mesh stents used to treat AAA, Jonathan Vande Geest, UA associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and bioengineering, is working on a polymer that can be sprayed onto a 3-D printed construct taken from a CT scan of the patient’s aorta, which allows for the design of a flexible, patient-specific device.

“Currently, AAA is treated with rigid, metallic stent grafts that may not conform to the aorta of the patient,” Vande Geest said. “This leads to the exclusion of some patients who have an AAA that is anatomically complex and more difficult to treat.”

Although patients with AAA may show no symptoms, rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening internal bleeding. At least 13,000 deaths are attributed to AAA rupture in the United States every year.

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498

Project Title: Building a Smarter Gridtep_logo

Team 1404 Members:
Jacob Chess, mechanical engineering
Peter Lankisch, electrical and computer engineering
Viviana Llano, optical sciences and engineering
Daniel McLeod, electrical and computer engineering
Alex Moser, electrical and computer engineering
Eric Sahr, systems and industrial engineering

Sponsor: Tucson Electric Power

winner3UA Engineering Design Team 1404 is designing an autonomous aircraft for Tucson Electric Power to inspect transmission lines that handle energy flow from power plants to major substations, ultimately powering customers’ homes and businesses.

The autonomous aircraft will be equipped with multiple sensors to monitor the structural health of the transmission lines and check for “hot spots” caused by bad connections.

“Currently, the transmission lines are inspected by renting a helicopter and sending a crew to fly along the transmission lines, tower by tower,” said team member Alex Moser. “This is very time consuming, inefficient and expensive. Our goal is to provide utilities with a commercial system that is more capable than those they now use.”

University of Arizona, UA Senior Design Program, Senior Design, Engineering 498

SDPM_0012_SENSINTELProject Title: Aerodynamic Modeling, Measurements and Simulation

Team 1441 Members:
Christopher Drawert, aerospace engineering
Steven Goodyke, mechanical engineering
Rolland Prempeh, aerospace engineering
Daniel Simmons, mechanical engineering
Austin Taylor, systems and industrial engineering

Sponsor: Sensintel

student_post_sensitel1Team 1441 is expanding the capabilities of the wind tunnel in the University of Arizona’s aerospace and mechanical engineering department.

“We’re building a mount to allow a UAV to turn 90 degrees in the tunnel, keeping the neutral point of the aircraft in the center of the wind tunnel and minimizing interference effects on the edges of the plane,” said team member Daniel Simmons. “We transformed what was a simulation design into a more mechanical design using a five-component balance to get six degrees of freedom.”

Sensintel research scientist and 2013 UA alumnus Aaron Farber has been following the team’s progress.

“What these guys are doing — taking a five-scale balance and turning it into a six-degree balance — is remarkable. This piece of hardware will hopefully be able to be used by many teams and many research projects to come in the new AME wind tunnel,” he said. “You read a book, you do the math problems — it only gets you so far. This is a great opportunity to get the students into a real-world experience where they’re able to understand what all their class and lab work has been going toward.”

Added team member Christopher Drawert, “It’s nice to work with other engineers you haven’t worked with before. This is going to be really useful when we enter the workforce.”