Mechanical engineering includes all aspects of design, development, control, and manufacture of mechanical systems and energy conversion systems.
Mechanical engineering is essential to the proper design and manufacture of nearly every physical product in our modern world. As such, mechanical engineers are a fundamental resource for most industries, and they work in interdisciplinary environments. Mechanical engineers must have the ability to see broad perspectives across disciplines and industries and yet solve very local and specialized problems.
The undergraduate curriculum addresses the education and training of mechanical engineering students and concentrates on two technical areas:
- Design and analysis of thermofluid systems for effective use of energy; and
- Design, analysis, and control of mechanical systems including the study of materials used in engineering.
Educational efforts are channeled to expand the skills of prospective engineers not only in understanding fundamentals but also in developing competence in analyzing engineering systems.
Senior Design Thesis
Thesis Writing Information:
Department Specific Guidelines:
Thesis Submission Information:
Senior Design Project Proposal
Sample Project Descriptions
Prosthetic Hand - Extensions of this year's project to possibly include new user groups with new design criteria, additional DOFs, new transmission techniques; new user interfaces, etc.; co-advised w/Dr. Asuri in Bioengineering
Satellite Tracking Systems - Developing a low cost but precision tracking system for the large parabolic antenna (e.g. 4.5 meters in diameter and larger), requiring ME structural design/fab, control systems (implemented in software), etc. System(s) will be used for an upcoming industry and NASA satellite missions, and innovative designs might be commercially licensed
Agricultural Robotics and Automation - We will be pursuing several "agtech" projects focused on capabilities such as auto navigation of a tractor/vehicle in GPS-denied environments (e.g., requiring vision systems), crop cutting/picking/harvesting, distributed sensor networks, sampling systems, intervention systems (cutting, spraying, etc.), UAV remote sensing, etc.
Marine Robotics, Sampling, and Automation - We will be pursuing several marine robotic projects involving the development of new sensor/sampling systems, automated control, swarm robot development and control, significant extensions/rebuilds of one of our underwater robots, and complimentary upgrades to a deployment boat for control consoles, a crane/winch system, a tether management system, etc.
UAV Environmental Monitoring Missions - Primarily software/control system development for a cluster of UAVs to perform missions for NOAA, NASA, USGS, etc.
Vehicle Teleoperation and Automation Work, Automating a Drive-by-Wire GEM EV
Disaster Robots - Developing/extending tracked robots for disaster response capabilities involving sensing, physical intervention, etc.
Senior Design Project Ideas 2018-2019
Shearwater Project - The project goal is to design and manufacture a proof-of-concept variable buoyancy system for a hybrid autonomous-underwater/unmanned-aerial vehicle (AUV/UAV). The system controls the vehicle's depth, pitch, and roll while the vehicle is submerged. This is part of a multi-year effort with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Design of an Ubran Garden Aquaponics System - A low-maintenance soil-less vegetable and fish farming system intended to increase nutrition for food-insecure communities in San Jose, California. This aquaponics system is off-the-grid and powered by solar panels with an integrated sensor network that measures different water conditions and transmits information to the end user.
AutoDraft - AutoDraft is an automated drink delivery service that is designed to reduce wait times and increase sales during surge times at large venues, stadiums, and arenas.
Human-centered Electric Prosthetic (HELP) Hand - Design of an electrically powered, bio-controlled prosthetic hand for amputees in India. A versatile, single actuator prosthesis that can be easily manufactured in India at a dramatic cost reduction from the current standard while maintaining performance measures near those found in other modern prostheses.
Frugal Bicycle Transportation in Puebla, Mexico - Our project was to create a two-passenger attachment for a standard bicycle. This attachment connects to any standard bicycle at the seat, has storage capabilities, and provides an alternative to walking on muddy unpaved roads. Our goal was to create an affordable, durable, and easily serviceable attachment.
Power-Assist Wheelchair Attachment - The goal of this project is to create a power-assist attachment for manual wheelchairs. The attachment combines the best attributes of electric and manual wheelchairs without the financial and physical burdens associated with them.
Pedal 4 Purification - Pedal 4 Purification is universally adaptable water purification and transportation system optimizing the centripetal pedal force of a bicycle. Partnering with Maya Pedal Guatemala, a non-profit organization focused around helping those in need to gain access to potable drinking water while promoting community involvement of women and children.
Medical Assistance Bed - We are building a customizable medical bed for adults with special needs. The purpose of this bed is to minimize the physical labor involved in helping an adult get in and out of bed, and have the bed be elevated for adults who wear diapers, requiring multiple diaper changes per day.
Heat Control for Thermionic Power Generation - Heater and controller for the thermal management of a thermionic energy converter for portable power generation.
Portable Thermoelectric Cooler - Developing a Portable Thermoelectric Cooler that implements an insulated enclosure, a heat removal system, and a voltage regulation system operated by a power tool battery. Our goals are to overcome a 20°C temperature difference and have an operating time of 4+ hours.
Seedling Sanctuary - The Seedling Sanctuary is an automated cold frame greenhouse designed for Gardner Academy. The purpose of the cold frame is to increase garden efficiency by maintaining ideal growing conditions to ensure seedling germination and to act as an educational tool for 4th and 5th graders.
WeighstEd - WeighstEd is a data collection system designed to aid the SCU Center for Sustainability with its food waste reduction goal of 10% by 2020. The system identifies, collects, and weighs wasted food, compiles food waste data for each meal served in Benson, and analyzes trends to create sustainable initiatives.
SwiftScene DMX Control - SwiftScene DMX Control is a modular, DMX-controllable device capable of moving set pieces designed for live theatrical productions in educational and community theaters. Presented is a scale model of the device as a proof of concept that is controlled y DMX technology to automate scene changes.
Romaine Robotics: Automatic Lettuce Trimmer - The Romaine Robotics Automated Lettuce Trimmer is a machine designed to help mid- to large-sized farms overcome the growing labor shortage in the agricultural industry by automating the time consuming trimming step in the cut-trip-pack harvesting process of romaine lettuce heads.
Environment Chamber for Shape Memory Alloy Testing - This is a temperature-controlled environment chamber, compatible with tensile testing machines in the Materials Science Laboratory, for the purpose of studying the deformation behavior of novel shape memory alloys at elevated temperatures. It will be used to identify microstructural transition temperatures and strain recoverable via the shape memory effect.
Senior Design Project Ideas 2017-2018
ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge - ASME's international Human Powered Vehicle Challenge (HPVC) provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate the application of sound engineering design principles in the development of sustainable and practical transportation alternatives. In the HPVC, students work in teams to design and build efficient, highly engineered vehicles for everyday use—from commuting to work to carrying goods to market.”
SAE Mini Baja - To design and build a vehicle that can be qualified to compete in the Baja SAE competition.
Team Scrub - Create a device that will automatically clean the writing space in a classroom. Interested in working with a COEN and/or ELEN student? The final device might be integrated with other classroom features so that it can be operated through the same user interface that controls all 7 projectors in the room. Ideal for 3–4 MECH students
plus students from other departments depending on the overall scope.
Team 2018°C - Are you looking for the ultimate challenge in your senior design project? If so, then Dr. Marks has just the project for you. A few years ago SCU purchased a state-of-the-art servo-hydraulic mechanical testing machine (see Figure). However, Dr. Marks has always had in mind the idea of doing more than mechanical tests at room temperature. His vision is to outfit the apparatus with a furnace capable of reaching temperatures of ≈2000°C. Not only would this enable testing of materials under extreme conditions, but the mechanical tester could also serve as a hot press, enabling us to process specialized materials onsite via powder metallurgy or similar processes. Dr. Marks has worked extensively with similar equipment throughout graduate school and knows the requirements and vendors for several components of such a device (see figure). This project is ideal for a group of 6–8 highly motivated students who are ready to start designing the product this summer.
Project Space - Construct a prototype to remove dust and deposits from the surface of solar panels (photovoltaic, or PV, modules) in order to improve their power output in large and small-scale applications. We are interested in developing and testing a smaller-scale version of the device to improve the cleaning mechanism and to create a standard engineering test that can be used worldwide to develop better PV panel coatings and cleaning techniques. This may involve shortening the existing prototype to assess the performance of different cleaning approaches and cleaning brush materials (from the 2016 team that made their own prototype). The goal would then be to scale the system up to the size of standard solar panels and to make it cost-effective and reliable. The team would apply and utilize skills in Materials Science, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering.
Marine Projects - Students interested in combining a design project with undergraduate-level research in control systems can join one of our marine robotic systems teams, all of which continue to design/extend existing robots, which include undersea robots & robotic boats. These systems perform real-world missions, and they are being specifically used to demonstrate new control system architectures, such as controlling robots to move in formations and to collaboratively perform advanced applications.
Spacecraft & Mission Control - This project would allow students to develop a new small satellite and or control four new NASA satellites. The team would apply and utilize skills in controls, software, structure and thermal.
Aerial Vehicles - Work on advanced sensors & control systems. Customers: wineries, inspection services
Land Vehicles - Work on autonomous systems & teleoperation. Previous projects have included: Gator-class “car” & rovers.
Auxetic Energy Absorbers - Design an auxetic strap material structure and possibly use geometry/attachment to achieve effective mechanical properties supporting customer requirements. Fabricate, mechanically test, and trade several candidate structures. Perform analysis of their design. Build a prototype pack and test against customer requirements.
3D Printed Carbon Fiber Bicycle Frame - Santa Clara-based AREVO Inc. has developed a unique Robot-Based Additive Manufacturing Platform (RAMP) for fabricating components with strong physical characteristics using advanced, high-performance composite materials. One application that AREVO would like to target are lightweight bicycle frames. We would like to engage with a small team of creative engineering students to design a bicycle frame that is amenable to 3D printer technology. Scope of the project includes conceptual design, structural analysis, and printing of a complete (or partial) frame on one of our systems. Design and performance parameters include weight, strength, stiffness, and cost. The work will first involve a CAD/CAE study of the feasibility using CAD and finite element modeling of the frame. AREVO will supply mentoring in all phases of the project along with manufacturing capabilities and a reasonable stipend to cover miscellaneous costs. Interested students (or teams) should contact Pete Woytowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org).