Mechanical Engineering and Technology Capstone Expo Projects

A Mechanical Engineering Technology Capstone Expo, held June 5, gave the campus community the opportunity to see some of the culminating projects created by students in mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology programs.

The student teams provided the following descriptions of their capstone projects:

Automated Can Crusher

Team Members: Dieudonne Nishimwe, Jeremy Sneddon, Ibrahima Sow, Kevin Uyekawa, Carson Ware

“Our team has designed and built an Automated Can Crusher, which is intended to reduce the number of trips to recycling centers by decreasing can size, allowing consumers to transport more cans per trip. This product is designed for the user to manually load aluminum cans into a vertical hopper, and then activate the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) driven automated can-crushing process with the push of a button. The machine uses an electric motor to assist in loading the cans from the hopper into the crushing chamber, where a pneumatic power actuated via sensors and the PLC is used to crush the can, which is then discharged through the bottom of the device. Our desired results are crushing cans to one inch in height and crushing 15 cans per minute.

Robot Knife Edging Automation

Team Members: Kolton Gifford, Clint Price, Aaron Selaya, Joshua Sims, Laura Velazquez

Buck Knives of Post Falls, Idaho, has produced the Folding 110® Hunter, a traditional locking blade knife, since 1963. Our capstone group was tasked with automating a single step of Buck’s production line for this model, delicately sanding the blade edge. This task typically requires careful and repeated fine-motor skills for a line worker, especially at production speed. The team has developed a work cell that mimics these steps using one of EWU’s “collaborative” robots, which are designed to work in close proximity with humans.

Buck Knives placed several design constraints on our project; the work cell must fit into the existing floor space and maintain the same quality standards as a human operator while still meeting the established cycle time. To address these criteria, the team designed components such as robot gripper fingers, 3D-printable blade fixturing, and hardware to connect the work cell to the existing robot table frame. Additional features were integrated to address employee safety including a light curtain and physical barrier guard to prevent unintentional interference. Collision detection was also implemented to increase worker safety.

EZ Eagle Spa Cover

Team Members: Derek Burke, Thomas Huttle, Justin McDonald, Dustin Pool, Preston Sochovka

The EZ Eagle Spa Cover allows hot tub users to open their hot tub cover with just the push of a button. This product allows users to open the hot tub cover with light debris (sticks, leaves, or less than 3” of fresh snow) on the top, without the fear of dropping the debris into the hot tub or needing to manually remove it before opening the cover. The design utilizes a remote control so the cover can be removed with a single operator. The cover assembly will slip under an existing hot tub with a non-destructive mounting to the tub.

Smart Chess Board

Team Members: Matthias Clother, Caleb Gunderson, Brenden Johnson, Hailey Palmer, Nathan Thurber

Our team has set out to create a Smart Chess Board that illuminates valid spaces a game piece can move to after a piece is picked up via magnetic sensors under the board that can sense the magnets attached to the bottom of each piece. The Arduino microcontroller runs a simulated version of the game in real time which links to the sensors and LED lights within the board. This allows beginners to learn in ways not possible before, being taught without the need for a teacher. The board is independent and rechargeable, capable of operating for two hours on a single charge, and includes a ‘move reset’ button in the event a player changes their mind on a move and wishes to go back. This board is fully portable, allowing it be taken anywhere!

eVTOL Drone

Team Members: Brennen Bazaldua, Dylan Cummings, Mathew Mason, Caleb Nass, Derek Ren

This project is a remote-controlled drone made to deliver food. The drone is made of 3D printed parts with carbon fiber rods as additional support. It has tilting motors that allow for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flight. The drone is powered by a rechargeable lithium polymer (Li-PO) battery and capacity to deliver a 3 to 4-pound package of food, with a working range of 10 miles. Drone delivery cuts emissions from typical food delivery by running on electric power. Our design operates with four motors for vertical flight and the two front motors that rotate 90 degrees with servos for horizontal flight. This allows it to have increased speed and a longer range, yet be able to land in tight areas. Our goal for drone-aided deliveries is to cut down on emissions as our society becomes more dependent on delivery methods for goods and services.

Leidenfrost Pump

Team Members: Ben Bobeck, Nate Boutain, Noah Hieb, Esther Kumba, Jordan Mitchell

Previous research suggests that the geometry of a surface significantly influences fluid experiencing the Leidenfrost Effect (film boiling on super-heated surfaces). We created a liquid pump, without the use of any mechanical operation, to deepen our understanding of how a surface’s geometry affects a liquid undergoing this phenomenon. The experimental conditions involve exploring specifically a ratchet-like or sawtooth shaped surface. A custom testing apparatus was designed and assembled by our research team. This design included an adjustable angle of elevation and is central to operating the designed experiments and compiling the findings. The results will be presented and documented to support future research or innovation. Advanced techniques, such as CNC milling, have been instrumental for the precise construction of each testing specimen. The investigation focuses on identifying the optimal tooth angle, tooth depth, and angle of elevation by analyzing the liquid’s velocity across different specimen surfaces.

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