Project Title: Toilet Leak and Flood Prevention
Team 15043 Members:
Matthew Britton, systems engineering
Ian Carmichael, electrical and computer engineering
Eliza Dawson, mechanical engineering
Diego Morales, mechanical engineering
Derek Strickland, mechanical engineering
Sponsor: QuakeWrap Inc.
Intellectual curiosity motivates UA emeritus professor
The reasons companies sponsor senior design teams are as varied as the projects themselves. Topping the list are exploring new technologies, reviving back-burner projects, benefiting from UA campus facilities and faculty expertise, and auditioning future employees.
For Mo Ehsani, PhD, PE, and his brother-in-law, Masoud Ghalambor, MD, sponsorship of a 2016 project was a personal thing. And it exemplified the essence of engineering: identifying a common problem and designing a simple solution that works.
Ehsani, a UA professor emeritus of civil engineering, is the founder and president of Tucson-based QuakeWrap. The company develops, manufactures and installs fiber-reinforced polymer products to repair and strengthen buildings and pipelines. Ghalambor is an orthopedic surgeon in Sacramento, California, who also holds BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering.
But the QuakeWrap-sponsored project didn’t come close to structural repair – or surgery. It was all about a simple, low-cost way to prevent toilet leaks and possible floods.
“We both had experienced large water bills due to leaky toilets and wanted to find a solution to eliminate water waste,” said Ehsani.
So the student team developed a battery-powered automatic shutoff that limits loss to one tankful of water if the water runs for longer than expected, indicating there is a leak.
While the Toilet Leak and Flood Prevention project does not signal QuakeWrap’s entry into the household plumbing fixtures market, the team’s work is protected by a provisional patent application, and Ehsani may pursue the product as a commercial venture outside of QuakeWrap.
“People tell me that they wish they had something like this,” he said.