Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Week

Each year, seniors from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering participate in Senior Design, in which students showcase a variety of senior design projects that they built throughout the semester. 
The course is split into a Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Course and an Aerospace Engineering Senior Design Course, both of which task students with specific issues they must solve by designing and building a prototype of a product or device that could aid in a variety of different applications. 

In the 2024 Mechanical Engineering Senior Design course, there were nine sections comprised of 255 total students. 

Six sections worked on industry-sponsored projects, and three sections worked on departmental projects. In the fall, they worked on conceptual design through presentations, reports, and computer simulations. In the spring, the students built the prototypes. The prototypes were tested twice with the second test providing statistical data showing robustness.

There were three Senior Design days this year, Each Senior Design Day was composed of formal presentation sessions in the morning and prototype demonstration sessions in lab in the afternoon. It was overall a success. Over 90% of the prototypes worked. The others, though not completely, worked partially.

ABB’s sponsored project was titled “Understanding Arc Fault Pressure Distribution within Different Arc Resistant Switchgear Plenum Configurations,” and challenged students to design an instrumentation system to measure the pressure inside the switchgear, the recoil impact from the pressure shot out of the switchgear and the bending and the stress of the switchgear’s components.

Caterpillar, Inc. sponsored a project titled “Caterpillar Mini Hydraulic Excavator (MHE) Storage Box,” which tasked students with designing a lockable, durable, sealed, compartment that fits between the cab & firewall on 307.5 & 310 excavators, providing storage for common tools, fluids, and other items.

Corning sponsored a senior project titled “Automated Mechanical Apparatus for Testing Optical Connectors” that challenged this year’s students to prototype an automated mechanical apparatus, loaded with one or more mated pairs of optical connectors, which will be subjected to a variety of automated mechanical loads (vibration, torsion, bending, tensile, impact, etc.) executed in series while optical data is collected.


Daimler Trucks North America sponsored the project titled “Pre-Paint Chassis Frame Rail Staging,” wherein seniors were tasked with tackling any/all aspects of the installation process – from de-nesting, to T-Bar stabilization, and U-bar stabilization. Each aspect of the project has unique challenges that all have mechanical aspects to them Student solutions should make the task easier and/or faster while keeping the following considerations in mind: Demonstrated reduction in process time (TAKT), Demonstrated improvement in process ergonomics, Consideration of operator safety, and Demonstrated repeatability – process should be the same across all truck (frame) models.

The Pentair senior design project this year, titled “An Integrated Water Level Sensor,” challenged students to design proof of concept water level sensor, with a backup sensor, that would send a signal to a solenoid valve to fill the pool until a certain level is reached.

The final industry-sponsored senior design project was proposed by Zurn, titled “Zurn Intelligent Sensor Ceramic Cartridge Thermostatic Mixing Valve,” and it tasked students with designing the reliable, battery operated, efficient mechatronics subsystems for a commercial smart faucet capable of providing thermostatic controlled mixing based on user input of the temperature setting.

The first of the departmental senior design projects in 2024 was the Undergraduate Aerospace Experiment, titled “Small Closed-Loop Water Tunnel for Particle Image Velocimetry Visualization.” As per the strategies outlined by the AE undergraduate curriculum committee, the incorporation of advanced flow visualization techniques is a focal point within AE experimental laboratory courses. One such technique is Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). However, the absence of a water tunnel poses a challenge to implementing this technique. This project mandates the conceptualization and construction of a self-contained water tunnel, subject to specific constraints. Foremost among these limitations is spatial confinement, within dimensions not exceeding 120″ x 30″ x 50″ (length x width x height). Additional considerations encompass the test section width, set at a minimum of 6″, and a maximum achievable speed of 10 m/s. Crucially, the tunnel’s velocity is modifiable and quantifiable, and the entire setup is designed for portability.

Another departmental senior design project from 2024 is the heat sink design section, in which students designed, analyzed, and optimized an additively manufactured heat sink to cool a constant power module subject to natural convection in a vertical enclosure. The teams were evaluated as having the most effective designs exploiting the design freedom allowed by additive manufacturing.

In addition to the sponsored projects, the PackMotorsports Formula and Baja SAE teams participated in their own mechanical engineering senior design projects, each of which pertain to a specific portion of their 2024 Formula or Baja vehicles.

The first Baja team Senior Design project consisted of designing Toggleable Four-Wheel Drive and Chain Optimization for their 2024 SAE competition, and the second project consisted of designing Continuously Variable Transmission Dynanomter for the same vehicle.

The Formula SAE team also participated in two design projects. The first of which was to design Pneumatic Shifting System for an Internal Combustion FSAE Car, and the second centered around designing Kinematics, Accumulator Mounting and Frame for the team’s electric vehicle.

These four designs are all implemented into the 2024 Baja and Formula SAE competition cars.

Join us at our next Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Week, Spring 2025.

Details coming soon.