Redefining the Classroom

Senior engineers, industrial partners unveil some really cool stuff

Posted: July 16th, 2013

Scroll down to see Team AIM's project demonstration!

START ME UP – Student engineers, their teachers and families mingle after Team Superior Vehicle Testing (SVT) presented its senior design project results at Lake Superior State University. The team upgraded an existing test cell that measures the torque, force, and power of any car or truck's power train. This cell is used for senior engineering projects, some conducted in partnership with automobile manufacturers and suppliers. Continental Automotive Group contributed the van used for this test cell's upgrade. This project is one of four unveiled this past semester during a design presentation and demonstration day. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-resolution photo that runs with the caption above can be found by clicking here.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - Lake Superior State University student engineers helped one of Canada's largest steelmakers get a handle on noise pollution, while another team field tested a solar cell window module for 3M.

These are just some of the for senior design projects that students in LSSU's School of Engineering and Technology worked on this past academic year.

Senior design projects provide concrete engineering experiences for LSSU students who are making the transition from academia to industry or graduate school. Each project requires a detailed technical engineering analysis, development, and follow-through to provide a realistic experience. Sometimes students find positions within the companies that are sponsoring their projects.

Students address timeline, monetary and management issues, as well as communication, teamwork paperwork, and logistics within their teams. They also handle guidelines, design reviews, development and production issues, purchasing, changing project definitions, and lessons-learned as they work with their faculty advisors and industrial customers. All of these projects have been at least a year in the making.

This past year's student teams and projects were:

Team Automation in Motion (AIM) designed, constructed, and integrated a robotics work cell into the LSSU robotics lab. The work cell consists of four Fanuc robots mounted on a rotary index table that are controlled by an Allen Bradley Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). The cell serves two roles. First, it is an educational platform that will be used to train future LSSU engineering students. Second, a solar array assembly demonstration showcased the work cell's operation, which can be rearranged and repurposed to accommodate other assembly projects. The software used in the project included RoboGuide, Karel Editor, Teach Pendant Programming, Creo, BootP/ DHCP Server, RSLinx, Logix5000, and Factory Talk Studio Machine Edition.

Team AIM is (with majors and hometowns) Joshua Bodell (manufacturing engineering technology; Lansing, Mich.); Mike Brown (manufacturing engineering technology; Washington, Mich.); Erik Miller (electrical engineering with an emphasis in robotics and automation; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.); and Jon Spencer (mechanical engineering with an emphasis in robotics and automation; West Branch, Mich.). The project faculty advisor was Jim Devaprasad. The project was sponsored by LSSU with industrial consultants Jason Markesino of Applied Manufacturing Technology (AMT) of Lake Orion, Mich., and J.P. Rasiah of 4D Systems of Fenton, Mich.

Team HelioTech (HT) designed, built, and tested a photovoltaic window module that incorporates solar cells into the structure of a building. For this project's design, solar cells were placed between interior and exterior panes of glass, keeping the design compact and aesthetically pleasing. The window makes use of 3M Brand Prestige Window Film to reflect infrared (IR) light onto the solar cells while allowing visible light to pass through and into the building. This reflected IR light increases the amount of energy generated by the solar cells, thus increasing the solar cells’ efficiency. At the same time, the reflected IR light does not enter the building, thus reducing the cost of air conditioning. The 3M Brand Prestige Window Film also absorbs ultraviolet light, thereby preventing it from entering the building where it can degrade materials.

Team members were Benjaman Holbrook (mechanical engineering; Indianapolis, Ind.); Brett Newill (dual major of electrical and computer engineering; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.); Travis Pendell (computer engineering; Marcellus, Mich.); Blaine Roushia (mechanical engineering with an emphasis in robotics and automation; Kenosha, Wis.); and Matthew Wagner (mechanical engineering with an emphasis in robotics and automation; Warren, Mich.). Faculty advisors were Paul Weber and Joseph Moening. The project sponsor was 3M, St. Paul, Minn., with Tim Hebrink as industrial contact for 3M.

Team Noise, Vibration, and Harshness Management (NVHM) developed alternative neighborhood noise abatement concepts for the Essar Steel Algoma mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Presently, sound levels in certain residential areas near the plant are in excess of Canadian federal limits. NVHM undertook field measurements to identify and rank major sound contributors and their audio signature. The team then developed a ray-acoustics simulation model for the mill and its surroundings using specialized software. The model was then used to assess noise-reduction concepts. Based on the model, the team proposes that ESSAR make a sound-absorbing enhancement to the plant's existing boundary noise wall. The team also suggested a new wall just outside of the mill’s Gas Cleaning Plant facility, to not only reduce on-site noise levels but also provide modest reductions to the neighborhood noise levels.

Team NVHM is (with majors and home towns) Jacob Black (mechanical engineering; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.); Joseph Douglas (electrical engineering; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.); and Jordan Verdelli (mechanical engineering; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.). The faculty advisor was Robert Hildebrand, with lead industrial contact being Chris Janssen of Essar Steel Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Vehicle dynamometer testing systems are widely used in the design, building, and maintenance of all types of vehicles. Team Superior Vehicle Testing (SVT) designed and built a small-scale, bench-top dynamometer system for use in LSSU’s vehicle systems courses. The system provides torque and speed control and measurement via a computer-based data acquisition system. Team SVT also made significant upgrades to a full-sized dynamometer that works with cars and vans. That work focused on the redesign and implementation of several safety systems, as well as improvements to real-time instrumentation and data acquisition.

Team SVT is (with majors and home towns) Tara Bioty (mechanical engineering; Jackson, Mich.); Christopher Dalpra (manufacturing engineering technology; Ann Arbor, Mich.); Kirk Harris (electrical engineering; Traverse City, Mich.); and Dennis Ross (mechanical engineering; Rudyard, Mich.). The faculty advisor and industrial contact were, respectively, David McDonald and Robert Hildebrand.

Do a Web search for "LSSU engineering" to learn more about studying engineering and technology at LSSU.


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315.