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.