One goal of the MSU Mechanical Engineering Program is to educate engineers who are prepared to lead, create, and innovate as their professional or graduate careers evolve. The Mechanical Engineering Design Program is the key element of the curriculum that supports this goal. There are five required design courses in the program which provide our students with eight hands-on, team-based, ‘design, test and build’ projects, and numerous opportunities to practice and refine their written, oral, poster, and video presentation skills. The Design Program in Mechanical Engineering has attracted national recognition on many occasions and helps to distinguish the ME program as one of the best in the country.
For information on becoming a project sponsor, please contact Mike Colucci.
The following are the project sponsors and projects for Fall 2011:
Union Pacific Railroad: Train Wheel Magnetization Metering System
Union Pacific Railroad (UP) is dedicated to safety in all aspects of its business. Regular inspections of the trains are conducted by mechanical forceswith the intention of finding defective conditions. One of these defective conditions is an accumulation of metal on the wheel’s rolling surface. The protruding characteristics of this extra metal, dubbed “built-up tread,” can potentially cause derailments. UP has pursued many projects that attempt to automatically detect this condition or its precursors in an effort to alleviate its threat to safety.
UP has discovered wheels containing built-up tread also exhibit magnetic properties. As a result, UP has selected this characteristic as a plausible identifier of wheels with built-up tread. A system has been proposed that will detect, measure, and catalog any magnetic field existing on the wheels of a passing train.
The data collected by this system will aid UP in its quest to fully understand built-up tread. Combining the information amassed by this system with that collected from future investigations will help UP in its quest for no derailments.
A Shell Oil Company Children’s Humanitarian Project: Instruments Mounts
Heartwood School is an institution dedicated to teaching students with moderate to severe cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorders, and traumatic brain injuries, This institution educates 150 students ranging from 3 to 26 years of age. Over the years Heartwood School has improved the quality of life for countless students and will continue to do so in the future.
A concentrated discipline within Heartwood is music therapy. During therapy, students play drums and xylophones in positions ranging from sitting to standing while in various types of equipment. The project task includes developing mounts for these instruments to provide a hands-free solution for the user. This will allow the students to interact with each other through music and will increase each student’s playing time.
Currently, the staff members are constrained to holding the instrument for one student at a time. This suppresses the time available to focus on the other students in the classroom, and limits their ability to perform other necessary tasks associated with music therapy.
Research has been conducted to determine the best designs for a drum mount and a xylophone mount. The center of gravity and weight bearing for these mounts were analyzed. Important design constraints of primary concern are safety of the students and sound quality of the instruments.
A Shell Oil Company Children’s Humanitarian Project: Art at Work
Peckham, Inc. is a nonprofit community vocational rehabilitation organization. Peckham is one of the largest vocational rehabilitation programs in the state of Michigan, serving more than 7,300 local residents each year. Peckham specializes in creating positive change in the lives of people with disabilities or other barriers to employment.
Art at Work is a collaboration with the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at Michigan State University. Art at Work allows people with disabilities and social barriers to express themselves via art. The project task is to design a display that showcases artwork created by Art at Work participants. The display will be located on a large wall of Peckham’s manufacturing facility to create a powerful, visual statement about diversity within Peckham.
Research on art display methods was performed to create a unique solution. Using computer-aided design software, a structure of the display was modeled. Due to the construction of the wall in which the art will be displayed, support methods for the display were researched and evaluated. The main goals of the project were to create an artistic, living, and growing display that is easily maintained while keeping in mind the structural constraints of the facility.
A Shell Oil Company Children’s Humanitarian Project: Two Special Boys; One Shared of Riding a Bicycle
This is a special family who came to us with the need for a bicycle that would enable all of them to spend time together as a family, get exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Nathan is an eleven-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome and gross motor problems, who has quickly outgrown his current tricycle; Nathan is five and has Septo-Optic Dysplasia, leaving him blind and cognitively impaired.
There are currently many different types of bicycles on the market, with a variety of different features. However, no bike currently addresses all the specific needs of this family. It was our task to design and build a three-seated bicycle that caters to all of their needs and to allow these great kids the chance to enjoy their favorite hobby again.
Our group was honored to be given the chance to help a fellow Lansing resident and her two wonderful children.
Chrysler LLC: Automotive Seating Product Design Product
Chrysler, one of the Big Three American automakers, is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The company was founded by Walter P. Chrysler on June 6, 1925. Recently, Chrysler has proven its resilience during economic hardships and remains competitive in the automotive market.
Since rolling out the Chrysler Six, its first production vehicle, Chrysler’s products have defined the future of automobiles with class-leading innovations. Today, the company produces a large line of sedans, minivans, and crossover/SUVs. Commitment to innovation continues to be reflected in each new product from Chrysler. In particular, innovation is evident in the human machine interface (HMI) elements of each vehicle. These are advancements that translate directly to customer appeal and experience.
Chrysler is interested in optimizing its rear seat design. Currently, the company must commit time and resources towards custom, rear, center- occupant packages for each product model. The student team has assisted Chrysler in this endeavor by designing a parametric model to streamline the design process and balance conflicting functional requirements. The team has also designed and fabricated the interior support structure for the rear center armrest to illustrate the functionality of parametric model.
Ford Motor Company: Boost Pump for Vehicle Evaporative Emission Systems
Since 1903 Ford Motor Company has provided affordable and dependable vehicles to middle class Americans. The top-selling vehicle that Ford produces is the F-series truck, which started in 1948 and has been the top-selling truck for the past 34 years.
New environmental standards demand the highest efficiency in terms of fuel consumption and reduced impact to the environment. The project commissioned by Ford was to induce flow, in an economical way, in the carbon canister that would move the hydrocarbon emissions from refueling to the intake manifold. Accomplishing this would ensure that the vapors of gasoline from refueling would be purged faster than present conditions.
The carbon canister in a vehicle is part of the On-Board Refueling Vapor Recovery system. this system transfers the vapor from the fuel tank to a canister that is filled with carbon. The carbon in the canister absorbs the hydrocarbons and releases fresh air to the atmosphere. When the engine reaches operating temperature and sufficient vacuum is created in the intake manifold, fresh air is drawn through the carbon canister. As the air is pulled through the canister, the hydrocarbons are drawn into the intake manifold to be burned during the combustion process.
Research on flow-inducing devices and methods has generated multiple ideas that improve the performance of the vapor recovery system as a whole. Each design was three-dimensionally modeled and analyzed with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to determine performance. A matrix was constructed from the results and solutions were all compared to each other.
Ford Motor Company: Carbon Canister Cooling System
Ford Motor Company has been a world leader in innovative automotive design for over 100 years. Ford produces a variety of vehicles catering to the needs of a diverse customer base in the U.S and international markets. To stay competitive in an ever- changing market, automobile manufacturers need innovative designs to deal with growing customer demands for vehicles with better fuel efficiency, sustainability, and less environmental impact. To achieve success in these critical areas, Ford is making a major effort to offer practical solutions.
An example of this can be seen in Ford’s efforts to improve its Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery System (ORVR). The ORVR consists of a canister filled with carbon pellets that capture the gasoline vapor generated during refueling. Capturing this vapor results in a decrease in air pollution, as well as an increase in fuel economy when the hydrocarbons are purged from the canister into the engine.
During refueling, a heat-producing reaction takes place between the carbon pellets and the fuel vapor. It is necessary to cool the carbon before and during the refueling process in order to offset this reaction and increase the carbon’s absorptivity. The team’s objective was to design a system to interface with the carbon canister and significantly cool the carbon pellets inside it. The desired temperature reduction was to be completed in two minutes, to coincide with the average time it takes to refuel a vehicle.
General Motors Foundation: Pedestrian Safety Sounds/Alerts for Electric Vehicles
General Motors Foundation, commonly known as GM, is a multinational automotive corporation originally founded in 1908. As the world’s second-largest automaker. GM produces/sells over two million vehicles annually under its 7 nameplates. GM has a net revenue of 135 billion dollars and is publically traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
A recent focus on researching and developing electric and hybrid vehicles has resulted in the production of vehicles such as the Chevy Volt. Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles achieve excellent fuel economies and are especially ideal with the rising gas prices. However, EVs do not emit enough sound through tire noise, wind resistance, and other factors to alert blind and other pedestrians of their presence.
The United States government will issue, no later than 2014, regulations requiring manufacturers to equip hybrid/electric vehicles with sounds to mitigate the danger these quiet vehicles pose to pedestrians.
The project tasks are to develop and implement an audible sounds/alert system that meets the legislative intent as documented in the “Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010” and develop a test procedure to quantify how the character o f the sound that conveys how the vehicle is changing speed may be measured and reported.
Research, benchmarking, and surveys were conducted in developing and validating possible sounds and alert systems to deliver the most effective design. On- and off-campus resources were utilized in verifying data, alternatives, performance and design evaluations. In accordance with GM’s policies and procedures, the final design must be testable and contain a testing procedure document.
Nexteer Automotive: Controller Cover for Electric Power Steering
Nexteer Automotive is the only tier-one, global automotive supplier dedicated solely to advanced steering and driveline systems. Nexteer
is a leader in environmentally friendly Electric Power Steering (EPS) that reduces fuel consumption by up to 6%. Nexteer prides itself as the only EPS supplier able to steer full-size trucks at 12 volts. In fact, Nexteer EPS will be installed on 90% of North American full-size trucks by 2013. Nexteer supplies over sixty automotive manufacturers including GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota.
Nexteer Automotive’s electric power-steering system, which uses an electric motor instead of a hydraulic pump, improves gas mileage, reduces maintenance, and gives better response at different speeds. One of the main advantages is a sensor that detects the torque needed: therefore a variable amount of assist can be applied based on driving conditions.
Nexteer Automotive presented this project to Michigan State University to explore alternative designs for their Electric Power Steering Cover. The goal of the project was to improve upon the existing design by implementing cost- effective material and fastening alternatives to meet customer needs.
The current controller cover is produced out of steel to enclose and protect the circuit board from the environment and provide electromagnetic interference protection. The Michigan State University design team optimized the design by considering alternative materials and using advanced analysis and optimization tools. Computer-aided design programs, vibration analysis, finite- element analysis, and topography optimization was performed in order to create the most effective design.
Whirlpool Corporation: Chilled Water Dispense Design
Whirlpool is the industry leader in manufacturing and
marketing of home appliances around the world. Celebrating 100 years of excellence comes from the commitment to go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. In order to remain a frontrunner. Whirlpool is continuously revamping current designs as well as developing new technology to further enhance its products.
The popularity of refrigerators with door-mounted ice and water dispensers has increased drastically in recent years. In-door ice and water is one of many features that distinguishes Whirlpool’s brands and allows for greater marketability. Unfortunately, all models to-date have a limited capacity of chilled water. Once the chilled water is depleted, the refrigerator will dispense room temperature water until the system recovers. This results in dissatisfied customers and service calls.
To develop a competitive product, multiple concepts were evaluated to optimize the chilled water quantity while maintaining current energy use, space, and product cost. Different materials, geometries, refrigerants, and heat exchanging processes were explored.
This project will allow Whirlpool to continue to be known for its innovation and environmentally friendly products.
Whirlpool Corporation: Fast Flow Water Dispense
Whirlpool is the world’s leading manufacturer of household appliances. On November 11th of this year Whirlpool celebrated its 100th anniversary and a century of providing quality products to consumers around the world.
Current refrigerator in-door water dispense systems meet the majority of consumer demands, which typically involve filling a standard drinking glass with cold water. Consumers who wish to fill larger containers, however, have voiced concerns regarding the time required to fill such containers. The goal of this project was to design a water dispense system capable of providing a water flow rate at least double that of the current system. The new design was required to maintain current filtration levels, as well as adhere to a number of other design constraints.
The team initially developed a variety of possible design solutions. These solutions were then analyzed using a number of methods in an effort to determine which solution offered the most viable option. In the future, such a system could be integrated into new Whirlpool refrigeration products allowing for a competitive advantage in the market.
Whirlpool Corporation: Ice Maker Airflow Enhancement
Whirlpool is a large conglomerate of many different brands, including Maytag, KitchenAid, and Amana. They produce a wide variety of products including, but not limited to, washers, dryers, microwaves, stoves, and kitchen appliances. With values like pride, passion, and performance, Whirlpool is dedicated to providing the latest advances in appliance manufacturing to the consumer. As one of the leading producers in the ice making and refrigeration business, Whirlpool fuels its “passion for the customers, pushing them to provide innovative solutions to uniquely meet the customer needs.” (Whirlpool.com).
The purpose of this project was to understand and optimize the process of making ice in a refrigerator bottom-mount configuration. The team was responsible for designing a system that will allow for greater airflow over the ice maker for increased ice rates while paying attention to power consumption, space, noise, and cost.
Faster, cleaner ice production ranks high on the list of customer requests and is of high concern for the Whirlpool design team. Increasing the airflow over their ice makers is just another way Whirlpool is bringing quality products to the customer.