Mechanical Engineering


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 Jim Lang.

The following were the project sponsors and projects for Spring 2018:

National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory: Development of Neutron Detector Frames

The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) is one of the leading nuclear research facilities in the world. It is located on the campus of Michigan State University. The mission of the NSCL is to allow researchers from around the world to come and conduct nuclear physics experiments with beams of rare, unstable isotopes. These experiments run for roughly a week and can be expensive. This makes the design of experimental equipment important, so that experiments can be run efficiently. The Mechanical Design Department works closely with the research groups in order to develop innovative solutions for the equipment. The Mechanical Design Department produces a full set of engineering drawings and specifications that will allow for future fabrication of the equipment.

Our team worked in collaboration with the NSCL Mechanical Design Team to create detector frames for neutron detectors. Two frames were developed. One frame was based on an existing design; but instead of it being mounted next to a reaction target from where neutrons are emitted, it was placed above the reaction target in such a way that the flight path of the neutrons emitted from the target to the neutron detectors is 1 m. The second frame was designed to hold new and larger neutron detector bars than are presently available at NSCL. This frame is positioned at a distance of 3 m from the reaction target. The detector frames were designed in CAD software and documented for future fabrication. The project resulted in the development of new detector frames that will be used in experiments tentatively scheduled for Fall 2018.

Team Members (L-R): Justin Slagter, Ryan Loveland, Andrew Palucki, Peter Chew, Vincent Pahl


Consumers Energy: Natural Gas Compressor Turbocharger Study 

Consumers Energy is one of the largest electricity and natural gas providers in the United States. In Michigan alone, Consumers Energy supplies natural gas to more than 6 million residents. Due to the lower demand for energy in the summer, Consumers Energy uses compressor stations to place natural gas into underground storage fields. The gas is then extracted during the winter to allow for prices to be cheaper for customers.

Consumers Energy tasked our team to analyze the performance and efficiency of the turbochargers used in the compressor station. One of two seemingly identical turbochargers located at the Overisel Compressor Station was working less efficiently than the other. Our team’s goal was to assess why the turbocharger was running less efficiently and create a ‘Troubleshooting Guide’ to assist with any future efficiency issues.

Team Members (L-R): Miranda Wahl, Jacob Wilson, Maria Magidsohn, Brian Pieciak, Payton Bauman


DENSO North America Foundation: Procedure for Ignition Energy Measurements

DENSO North America Foundation is a corporate foundation, funded by the DENSO Corporation, dedicated to helping students advance their education in engineering and technology. Through the DENSO NA Foundation, Michigan State University was awarded a grant to further students’ education in internal combustion engines.

One of the greatest obstacles in internal combustion engines is how to maximize efficiency and performance while minimizing harmful emissions. The automotive ignition system is not only a major component to engine efficiency, performance, and emissions; it also contributes to an engine’s robustness and long-term operation. Ignition, in modern spark ignition (gasoline engines) is initiated between the electrodes of a sparkplug and a charged flow (air-fuel mixture), delivered through an intake system at a velocity dependent on intake throttle position and engine rpm.

Our team was tasked with designing an experimental procedure whereby the average gas flow rate in the intake duct to an ignition chamber can be related to the gas velocity between the sparkplug electrodes in that chamber. The ignition energy required for ignition was then measured experimentally as a function of the prescribed intake-duct gas velocity, from which the gas velocity between the electrodes was inferred.

Team Members (L-R): Jiaji Zhang, Grant Gibson, Reison Gjolaj, Henry Wikol, Michael Walicki, Matthew Cassidy


DENSO North America Foundation: Design of a High Energy Ignition System

The DENSO North America Foundation, headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, has awarded more than $1 million in grants to colleges and universities across North America in the past two years. DENSO is committed to advancing the education of students in engineering, technology, and related fields. The DENSO Foundation looks to advance students and communities by developing a knowledgeable and experienced workforce. Dr. Elisa Toulson and Dr. Giles Brereton have been awarded funding by the foundation to develop a major design project for undergraduate seniors to improve their training for the automotive industry. Specifically, the ignition system is a component that affects the efficiency, pollution, and overall performance of the vehicle.

Due to the key role of the ignition energy in combustion, the Michigan State Team was asked to design, build, and test a high-energy ignition system, which was incorporated into an ignition test chamber and bench. The system needed to be externally adjustable and provide at least 50% more ignition than the baseline system. The sparkplug and the coils were changed to achieve the desired energy. Once the high-energy system was created, the combustion chamber was tested under a variety of conditions to demonstrate how pressure, temperature, and the state of the surrounding gas affects the performance of the system.

Team Members (L-R): Alex Clark, Jean Klochko Bull, Meredith Jonik, Madison Case, Tyler Smith


The James Dyson Foundation: Hand Cycle Propulsion Adapter Production Prototype

The MSU Adaptive Sports & Recreation Club is a Registered Student Organization at Michigan State University. This club was started in 2014 in order to create a physically and socially accessible space where Athletes with Physical Disabilities, Able-Bodied Volunteers and Academic Project Personnel can come together to use sports as a method of eradicating inaccurate societal stereotypes and invalid self-perceptions about disabilities. Within this club, the range of motion for each athlete varies from person to person based on their individual disabilities. Due to this, various versions of specialized Adaptive Sports Equipment are used by the members of this club. The difficulty with this equipment is that it is designed with elite level wheelchair athletes in mind, leaving the majority of people with physical disabilities with minimal choices. This makes understanding these difficulties crucial when designing Adaptive Sports Equipment.

Our team has been asked to design a Hand Cycle Propulsion Adaptor Prototype that will resolve any basic function and durability difficulties identified by users in the MSU Adaptive Sports & Recreation Club. Four main areas of focus for the design were considered: propulsion method, turning, discomfort, and safety. A successful design and prototype will allow more athletes with varying disabilities to partake in club activities with more ease of operation. Our team worked collaboratively with The James Dyson Foundation.

Team Members (L-R): Adam Ziemba, Jonathan Ristola, Spencer Miller, Andrew Biggie, Aaron Feinauer


The James Dyson Foundation: Hand Cycle Propulsion Adapter – Reverse Gear

As a Registered Student Organization at Michigan State University, the MSU Adaptive Sports Club provides opportunities to athletes with a variety of physical disabilities. This organization integrates able-bodied volunteers and athletes with physical disabilities using sports to eliminate stereotypes, improve self-confidence, and increase physical health. To accomplish this, the Club provides a diverse portfolio of adaptive sports equipment. In a previous semester, a team of Spartan engineers engineered and manufactured a Rowing Hand Cycle to accommodate specific needs of club members. This 1st Generation Rowing Hand Cycle allowed users with upper and lower body limitations to increase their physical activity in a safe, enjoyable fashion. The MSU Adaptive Sports Club reached out to our team to implement improvements to the current design to promote user independence and functionality.

Our team was primarily tasked with redesigning the propulsion system used to power the Rowing Hand Cycle, giving the user reverse capability while maintaining a similar frame design and input rowing motion. A chain, gear, and sprocket system were implemented to enable forward and reverse operation, allowing users to maneuver around obstacles more efficiently and independently. The 2nd Generation Rowing Hand Cycle design was optimized for safety, functionality, and durability, and has been tested and approved by members of the MSU Adaptive Sports Club for outdoor use. The addition of this adaptive sports device to the club’s resources accommodates a more broad range of users and promotes greater participation.

Team Members (L-R): Evan Lile, Reed WIlliams, Brandi Mazella, Evan paupert, Matthew Lawrence


Ingersoll Rand – Trane: Shipping Split Protection 

Ingersoll Rand is an Irish industrial manufacturing company founded in Dublin, Ireland, and has its US operations headquartered in Davidson, North Carolina. The company’s products include tools, material handling, air solutions, utility vehicles, and air conditioning systems.

Trane, a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, is a manufacturer of HVAC systems. Trane frequently uses shipping split units to transport many of its products, making it easy to divide or “split” large shipments into units that are then later assembled at the customer’s site. The unit suffers from several problems, and a better solution that offered protection to the shipping split needed to be designed. It was necessary to redesign the covering of the airflow opening and structure so they could withstand strapping on CSAA Indoor Unit 17 through 35 (no deformation) that works in conjunction with stretch wrap to seal the unit and prevent rain and debris from entering the unit.

Team Members (L-R): Mirza Saifulbahri, Leo Calaj, Yuexing Sun, Courtney Zimmer, Adri Johari


Ingersoll Rand – Trane: Shipping Support Redesign

Ingersoll Rand, founded in 1905, is a diversified industrial manufacturer that specializes in enhancing the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings. At Trane, one of its subsidiaries, air conditioning systems with high energy efficiency are manufactured and shipped to commercial and residential markets. These systems are costly and need protection during shipping and after installment. The company designs and builds air handler units to support the different parts of these air conditioning systems during transit and to connect them in the field. These units use stiffeners to support the structure from stacking and wind forces along with vibration caused by shaking during shipping. These stiffeners are costly and hard to handle on tall units.

The commercial branch of Trane was interested in reducing the cost of the stiffener by remodeling the product design to have a new profile part while implementing different manufacturing methods. Our team focused on analyzing the stiffness and buckling characteristics of current and new shipping unit designs by simulating the response of the units under loads using finite element analysis. Alternative solutions were studied to develop the most appropriate design that fulfills the company’s requirements of strength and durability manufactured at the lowest cost possible.

Team Members (L-R): Abdullah Bo Shgeia, Qilin Zhu, Kanshu Mori, Mojtaba Almiskeen, Mohammed Bomoza


Ingersoll Rand – Trane: VFD Stand Cost Reduction

Trane, a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, is a leader in air conditioning systems. Accompanying many of these systems is a Variable Frequency Device. These Variable Frequency Devices are mounted over a fan system through the use of a pedestal. Currently, the pedestal being used is oversized and purchased completely fabricated. This outsourced part costs the company over $20,000 annually.

Our team was asked to create a new design for the pedestal that could be made at the Lexington, Kentucky plant. The new pedestal was designed to be smaller than the currently oversized pedestal. It was also designed to have no welded joints and be made with cost-effective materials. Finally, the product aimed to be roughly 25% of the price of the current pedestal when considering materials and labor.

Team Members (L-R): Jacob Richter, Tess Reed, Daniel Burchart, Shuang Liu, Quanjin Li


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: HVAC Monitoring and Display System

The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. The EPA has numerous labs that are used to set national standards. The National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is used to conduct research and complete testing on motor vehicles, heavy-duty engines, and nonroad engines. The NVFEL uses the testing to set standards for air pollutants from vehicles and confirm that all vehicles comply with these standards. The NVFEL develops new technologies to reduce vehicle and engine emissions and increase fuel efficiency.

Our team was asked to provide a data acquisition system to monitor a device to display the particulate matter (PM) Clean Room Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system environment on an ongoing basis. The first aspect of the project was to analyze and model the HVAC system already in place. The second aspect of the project was to collect and display data on the HVAC system. The data collected at the input and output of the HVAC system include temperature, relative humidity, and airflow. To collect the data, data sensors were connected to a digital processor and the data were then exported for display.

Team Members (L-R): Heather Raymor, Jake Bullard, Kayla Starr, Stephanie Close, Ryan Kruzei, Samantha Brown


Detroit Bikes: Bike Spoke Tension Meter Calibration Stand

Detroit Bikes, located in the heart of Detroit, Michigan, is an industry frontrunner for US manufactured upscale commuter bicycles. Capable of producing up to 150 bikes per day in their 50,000-square-foot factory, its mission is to make the bike owning experience as fun and enjoyable as possible for customers throughout the lifecycle of their purchase. This is done by producing bikes that are made to last. Durable bikes start from the ground up, specifically, the wheels. Each wheel is composed of many load bearing spokes, each of which is adjusted to the correct tension, allowing the wheel to spin true. If the spokes are tensioned unevenly, the wheels will wobble, resulting in a less than satisfactory ride.

Our team has designed and fabricated a bike spoke tension meter calibration stand, which will be used on the production floor at Detroit Bikes. A bicycle spoke is loaded into the calibration stand and tensioned under a specific load that is shown on a digital scale. The operator then uses their handheld tension meter on the spoke and gets a specific load readout. This calibration stand allows the operator to ensure that the spoke tension meter is calibrated correctly and to determine when it needs to be adjusted. With this newly implemented process, Detroit Bikes is able to continue building bikes made to last with added precision.

Team Members (L-R): Thomas Baldwin, Danny McCarty, James Garrett, Tom Berkery (Sponsor), Kole Brunsman, James Morey


Hanson Logistics: Prevention of Damaged and Dumped Pallets in Freezer Environments

Hanson Logistics specializes in the transportation and storage of refrigerated or frozen goods. Day to day business for Hanson Logistics requires continuous use of fork trucks. These trucks are constantly unloading, storing, and unloading pallets as required by its customers. With this comes the unavoidable issue of occasionally dropping or damaging pallets. This issue costs the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. The solution to this problem is difficult due to the large number of variables involved, for example the height of the pallet, the operators’ experience, the location of the pallet, and several other factors that can all be correlated with pallet damages. As a result, the solution to the issue must take multiple forms as well. That is why our team developed a two-pronged solution. The first is the implementation of a camera system that would be mounted between the forks and have a display in the cab of the fork truck. The goal of this is to aid the forklift operator and decrease the number of damaged pallets that result from operator error. The second is implementing better data acquisition and analysis techniques for Hanson Logistics to use going forward. There is a similar goal for this component, mainly in that it would allow Hanson Logistics to easily analyze what the primary sources of damages are. It also provides the ability for them to address issues as they continue to arise, thus providing a key component in a sustainable system.

Team Members (L-R): Owen Middleton, Maria Osinski, Chase Quencer, Charlie Guidarini, Jon Howard


Dynamotive IP, LLC.: Self-Powered Water Circulator

There are many recreational issues associated with still bodies of water and the natural decomposition processes they foster. As organic debris collects at the bottom of a body of water such as a lake, it is then broken down by anaerobic bacteria that produces hydrogen sulfide. This chemical can be harmful and often leads to the reduction of surrounding wildlife and plant-life, as well as being an aromatic displeasure to society.

In order to reduce the amount of hydrogen sulfide present in the water, it is necessary to circulate water from the bottom of the lake to the surface. Circulation exposes more water to the atmosphere, which allows the hydrogen sulfide to be able to be rejected and oxygen to be absorbed. Introduction of fresh oxygenated water to the bottom of these lakes then allows aerobic bacteria to break down organic matter. This improves the recreational value of the lake by decreasing levels of muck on the bottom and creating a more favorable environment for fish.

This project focused on effectively clearing this waste buildup for a small lake. A self-powered water circulator can achieve what traditional devices fail to do by providing an inexpensive mobile platform that can circulate water wherever needed. The self-powered water circulator utilizes photovoltaic panels to generate power to drive a propeller, which induces water circulation within a given area.

Team Members (L-R): Lindsay Hoard, Michael Bigelow, Shwan Al-Howrami, Vince Rende, Bram Parkinson


Stryker: Stretcher Ride Characterization and Improvement Methods

Ride quality throughout the hospital while being transported on stretchers is crucial to patient safety and comfort. Currently, small interruptions in incline, surface, and traction disrupt the ride quality for the patient. These disturbances propagate throughout the device due to its rigid structure. To further understand these conditions that are felt during hospital transport, our team conducted ride quality testing. Accelerometers were attached to different areas of a stretcher and data were collected over various terrain (flooring transitions, tiling, etc.). The measured accelerations caused by the prescribed conditions were then correlated with subjective observations and comfort felt by a team member lying on the stretcher.

With a better understanding of ride quality, the team then designed different attachments to minimize the propagated shock throughout the stretcher. Multiple areas on the stretcher were identified as possible locations to modify. With the new prototypes in place, further ride quality testing was conducted to determine which one minimized vibrations the most, and data were compared to the initial ride quality of the stretcher. Our team submitted the attachment prototype with the best vibration damping properties to Stryker for further cycle, durability, and impact testing.

Team Members (L-R): Drew Daily, Kelly Patterson, Jack Leckner, Megan Beisser, Zachary Sadler


ArcelorMittal: Rotating Mount for Vision Sensor

ArcelorMittal is a world leader in steel mining and manufacturing. The facility in Burns Harbor, Indiana, produces rolls of steel for a variety of consumers. In one of the final stages of the steel production process, the unrolled steel passes through vats of hydrochloric acid to cleanse the steel of surface impurities. This process requires that the steel continues to move to avoid being destroyed by the acid. Because of the need for continuous flow, the individual coils must be welded together at the beginning of the line and separated at the end of the line, so there must be accumulation at each end. A large accumulation pit at the end of the line allows the steel flow to increase or decrease to facilitate the welding and cutting while maintaining constant speed through the acid.

Our team was tasked with designing a rotating sensor mount that will position a vision sensor over the center of the accumulation pit to monitor the amount of steel in it. The team will develop CAD models and perform Finite Element Analysis on several proposed designs that can be used by ArcelorMittal to improve the efficiency of its manufacturing process. The design must be durable, easy to repair, and must be able to move out of the way of the pit for maintenance.

Team Members (L-R): Justin Suh, Andrew Tan, Andrew Stamm, Matthew Auvenshine, Yamen Almahmoud, Lance Frahm


Bosch: Fixture for Turbo Disassembly

Bosch, a global manufacturer of exhaust gas turbochargers, is also a well-established partner of the automotive industry. Right now Bosch is producing exhaust turbochargers for passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, and off-highway applications. Due to the larger amount of orders placed by different buyers, the North American branch of Bosch often receives parts of its products that need some level of disassembly and inspection. Currently, all the returned parts are shipped to Germany or Austria for teardowns and inspections; it could be more efficient if the North American branch were able to inspect these parts itself, even on a more basic level.

Our team focused on designing, building, and testing a disassembly fixture that could quickly, easily, and safely disassemble a key component of a turbocharger, which is often one of the most difficult parts to remove. Since the design of the turbochargers varies due to different applications, the fixture has to accommodate these turbos that range in different interface size and angles. Considering the different turn-in conditions, this fixture should also be able to overcome a substantial amount of force when disassembling the turbo because of the rusted or tightly sealed parts, which requires the fixture to be robust enough to hold the turbo in place and not break under load. The success of this project should have a significant impact on the process of turbocharger inspection.

Team Members (L-R): Faran Ahmed, Yibin Cheng, Hyeungsuk Kim, Li Ren, Chengming Zhang


BorgWarner Morse Systems: Electrically-Assisted Engine Oil Pump

BorgWarner Inc. is a global leader in clean and efficient technology solutions for combustion, hybrid, and electric vehicles. The company’s engine timing systems, valve timing through cam phasing, and power transmission solutions provide its global customers innovative solutions that increase efficiency and performance.

The Electrically-Assisted Engine Oil Pump, or EAEOP, is a solution aimed at improving engine starting emissions and NVH. This device can increase the functionality of existing Morse Systems products, such as the hydraulic cam phaser, by providing oil pressure when the engine is turned off. This is accomplished by using an electrified oil pump to unlock a phaser allowing cam timing changes during engine cranking.

Our team was tasked with analyzing and testing an electrical pump to operate the lock pin on a hydraulic cam phaser. A mobile test bench was fabricated to show that the system parameters were met. Additionally, conceptual designs and methods for implementing the electrical pump into the engine system were developed.

Team Members (L-R): Dohyung Kim, Caleb Yung, Anthony Etheridge, Anuj Vyas, Tracey Nguyen


Pratt & Miller Engineering: Formula SAE Active Four-Wheel Steering 

Formula SAE is the largest collegiate design series in the world, offering teams the opportunity to design, build, and race a one-of-a-kind open-wheel racecar. Over 500 teams compete in 12 sanctioned events spread across five continents. The student-developed cars are evolving rapidly, becoming lighter, faster, and more advanced in every aspect. To remain in the top tier, The Michigan State Formula SAE Racing Team must continue to come up with innovative designs that improve the performance of the vehicle.

The project goal was to design a rear-wheel steering and control system that will aid maneuverability, decrease lap times, and ultimately improve the Michigan State Formula Racing Team’s competition rank. Four- wheel steering (4WS) is used in a variety of road cars, but a lightweight system had yet to be developed for the FSAE platform. The final hardware consisted of a DC motor coupled to a high reduction, self-locking worm gear driving a pinion and steering rack. All are paired together with sensors and a controller to create a bespoke system.

Technical support was provided by Pratt & Miller Engineering. PME is a product development company that, through innovation and technology, solves its customers’ most technically complex challenges in the motorsports, defense, and mobility markets. PME specializes in low rate production and early-stage product development by providing R&D, prototype, manufacturing, and development services.

Team Members (L-R): Colton Knopf, Tyler Nicolay, Sam Greenwald, Curtis Carne, Brandon Miller


MSU Department of Entomology: Self-Purging Manifold for SSCDS

Historically, apple trees have been trained to have large, spherical canopies. However, only the first few feet of the canopy, where sunlight penetrates, produce the majority of the fruit. So over the past few decades there has been a transition from apple trees with large, spherical canopies to much smaller trees with narrow canopies, increasing the yield of crop per acre. With this change, there is a need to change the way orchardists apply pesticides. The Michigan State Entomology Department has been working with local orchards, the Clarksville Research Center, and engineers to move from air blast application systems to solid set canopy delivery systems (SSCDS). The current air blast system application involves significant loss of expensive pesticide to the surrounding environment due to airflow drift. SSCDS makes a direct control volume application to decrease that amount of pesticide loss and drift to the surrounding environment.

Our team developed a manifold to allow the release of pesticide in a controlled, equally distributed manner. It also allows the system to be filled with low-pressure pesticide, then discharged with a higher pressure air. To ensure the longevity of the product, it allows drainage to eliminate residue buildup. This design is low-cost and robust for mass manufacturing and large application across orchards with little to no maintenance required.

Team Members (L-R): Phil Erickson, Rebecca Reneker, Kathryn Stimetz, Geena Duff, Edward Clark


Ford Motor Company: Interior Vehicle Air Quality Measurement System

Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, is one of the largest automobile makers in the world. Ford is constantly trying to improve customer satisfaction and, in doing so, some geographically specific problems arise from time to time. One of these problems involves the new-car smell in Asian countries – China and Japan specifically. In a study of vehicles in China, about 17% of the industry’s vehicles received complaints regarding the smell of the interior of the vehicle. This is theorized to be due to an enzyme variation that a portion of the Asian community has where acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol, is metabolized more slowly by the body and causes flush or nausea. Acetaldehyde and other chemicals are also present in the new-car smell and are believed to be the reasons some people within the Asian community do not like this smell.

Our team was asked to create a device that will help Ford sample the new-car smell in order to determine what concentration of new-car smell is tolerable for various populations. The device uses butanol and acetone to calibrate. After calibration, it dilutes the interior air of a vehicle and gently blows a sample of this air so that a subject can smell the sample and then be able to answer questions about it. This device must be compatible with Ford’s custom Data Acquisition System and must also ensure that the sample provided to the subject is not influenced by sampling artifacts.

Team Members (L-R): Andres Garcia, Majed Almughair, Krishnan Luhar, Jackson Garber, Jonathan West


Ranir: Semi-Automated Dental Floss Assembly 

Ranir, headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, is a global leader in the manufacturing of store brand consumer oral care products. Ranir’s products can be found at major retailers in over 40 countries and cover a range of dental products from power and manual toothbrushes to teeth whiteners and dental floss. In the manufacturing processing involving dental floss containers, there is a need to eliminate losses. These losses come from the excessive length of the dental floss spools, otherwise known as bobbins, during the winding and assembly process. The current winding operation drops four bobbins at a time into a large tote, creating lots of scrap material, and is inconsistent for the next step in the assembly process. This inefficient design is costly and further complicates the assembly process for Ranir.

Our team was tasked with designing a semi- automated assembly solution for dental floss containers. This project was the second step in a three-part process Ranir is undergoing with the end goal of fully automating their dental floss packaging process. This project focused on taking control of the bobbin during the winding process, modifying the cutting operation, and reducing scrap from unraveled bobbins while increasing manual assembly rates by 15-20%.

Team Members (L-R): James Breen, Nick Santi, James Moran, Hunter Jenuwine, Rob Pizzimenti


Roberts Sinto Corporation: Accumulation Conveyor Off-Center Tooling

Roberts Sinto Corporation (RSC) designs and manufactures conveyor systems for automotive assembly plants. These conveyors transfer large body panels from one point to another. RSC designs the conveyor system, and the customer is responsible for acquiring the tooling specific to the part they are moving. As a customer’s projects change, they often change the tooling without RSC review or approval, and the center of gravity of the tooling is sometimes neglected and parts often hang off-center. When redesigned tooling is out of spec, the conveyor systems exhibit undesired vibration, which can increase wear on the mechanical components of the conveyor and therefore decrease the life of the conveyor.

Roberts Sinto Corporation is interested in a design that will prevent vibration from occurring and increase the life of conveyor systems with offset tooling. Our team worked to develop a simple, cost-effective solution that can be installed in all customer plants with as little downtime as possible, while also being rugged enough to withstand the normal use of the conveyor. The team demonstrated a prototype to allow for further testing and improvement before the design is offered to all RSC customers.

Team Members (L-R): Grant Gooch, Mike Wiliams, Ian Lindsley, Nicholas Flannery, Nate O’Sullivan


Heartwood School, Ingham ISD: Adjustable Workstand 

Heartwood School provides educational services to students with physical and cognitive disabilities and autism. The school gives its students a safe, educational environment and culture where all will achieve their greatest potential.

Students at Heartwood School range in age from 3 to 26 and come from all 12 districts in Ingham County. The school’s focus is to further develop its students as community and family members by participating in prevocational and life-skill activities. To do so, Heartwood School utilizes the MOVE Curriculum, which is a research-based program shown to improve functional mobility skills with a goal that students can better direct their own lives. Transitioning students, ages 16 to 26, who attend Heartwood have goals of participating in meaningful paid work and volunteer opportunities. However, accessing and manipulating supplies can be a barrier to the students’ opportunity to participate in these activities.

Our task from Heartwood School was to design an adjustable workstand to assist in the development of students’ vocational skills. The adjustable stand allows students to participate in a variety of purposeful job tasks with greater independence and allows students to access materials from a wheelchair, walker, or gait trainer. The stand is adjustable in height, tilt, and rotation and can be modified for certain tasks such as paper shredding, laminating, and sorting objects. The number one priority when designing the stand was safety because the device would be near students with uncontrolled motor movements.

Team Members (L-R): Robert Chaney, Spencer Thompson, William Hartnagel, Chris Brenton, Nathanael Ginnodo


Heartwood School, Ingham ISD: Personal Lift System (PLS)

Heartwood School is a facility in the Ingham County Intermediate School District that serves children ages 3 – 26 with moderate and severe cognitive impairments, severe multiple impairments, and autism spectrum disorders. Heartwood School places an important emphasis on its specialized curriculum incorporating the MOVE Program, CORE Vocabulary, reading, mathematics, social studies, daily living, and social skills. These activities are structured to be hands-on and highly interactive in order to actively engage the students as much as possible.

The design project received from Heartwood was a redesign of a PLS created in the Fall of 2014. The previous project experienced catastrophic material failure when it was put into use. The previous PLS failed when a critical weld snapped. This caused safety to be a number one priority in the new design. The new PLS is a reliable, durable, safe, and mobile system that satisfies various roles. The PLS is used to vertically lift heavier students aged 16 – 26, support them at a 24-inch height, and transport them into alternate support units. Due to the severe physical impairments of the students, this device needed to be capable of lifting students off the floor with no assistance, as well as being as safe and sturdy for long-term use at the school.

Team Members (L-R): Shane Neal, Austin Miller, Jack Kuerbitz, John Schumaker, Sawyer Dmoch


 Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc.: PCB Thermal Vias – FEA Investigation

Hitachi Automotive Systems wishes to speed the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of the thermal performance of its automotive electronic controllers. A challenge that Hitachi has encountered is the computational demand required for developing an appropriate mesh for accurate heat transfer analysis of the cooling of a processing chip through vias to the opposite surface of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). However, the large quantity of relatively small thermal vias increases the simulation time and meshing difficulty. Therefore, the company desires an equivalent structure that can simulate thermal results with less calculation time and better FEA correlation accuracy.

Our team has designed and developed a new structure that could replace the original shape of thermal vias with the same amount of heat transferred. The outcome should help reduce the simulation time and improve FEA correlation accuracy for the vias.

Team Members (L-R): Duy Nguyen, Justin Ngo, Andy Dong, Paul Zhuang, Yuhao He