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Department ofMechanical Engineering


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:

  1. Design and analysis of thermofluid systems for effective use of energy; and
  2. 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 Project Proposal

Junior Convocation 2019

  • Check out the descriptions of the past Senior Design Projects below and discuss with faculty (make an appointment). 
  • Submit a proposal to the Department office via email
    • Project description
    • Itemized deliverable goals
    • Student team (include resumes for each member)
    • Estimated cost
    • Requested advisor (much more likely if you have met with advisor)
  • Projects start only with the commitment of an advisor and department approval.  Some projects have special rules.
  • We may send back projects based on questions raised or need for details to be specified.  You may submit a draft proposal
  • Two teams could potentially do the same project

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 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 autonavigation 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 pursing 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 complementary 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 Thesis

Thesis Writing Information:
Department Specific Guidelines:
Thesis Submission Information:
  • Step 1: Submit your completed thesis to your department for review and approval. Please speak with your department (and/or advisor) for specific submission instructions and deadlines if not already listed in the Department Specific Guidelines section above.

International Center for Professional Development (ICPD)

2020 Call for Applicants Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program (SMPD)

Application Deadline for both programs is April 3, 2020.

Interested candidates are invited to apply online at  Successful student applicants will receive fellowships to attend one of the programs and virtually all expenses for the one-year SMDP are covered.  We are now accepting applications.  Special consideration is given to how many weeks prior to April 3, 2020, deadline students apply.

Ethnically diverse university students and recent graduates in technical fields are invited to apply (Hispanic Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, and American Indians).  To qualify, applicants must be interested in a career in biotechnology, medical technology or consumer healthcare industries and seek to receive career mentoring and training from industry leaders.  

Both year-long programs begin with a 5-day training session.  SMDP Biotech will be June 6-10, 2020, in San Diego and SMDP MedTech will be October 3-7, 2020, in Toronto.  Participants will also attend a major industry conference. 

During SMDP, Scholars will be paired with industry mentors to learn about career opportunities in industry and receive career development coaching.   As part of the program, Scholars and their mentors create personalized mentoring plans, which they implement over the course of the year following the training session.  The mentor-mentee teams communicate regularly by telephone and email, aided by ICPD staff and the internet-based SMDP Mentoring Portal.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.

Many thanks,

Dustielyn Savage, Program Manager, 


NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

Hyper: Advanced Technologies for Hypersonic, Propulsive, Energetic, and Reusable Platforms

May 26 - July 31: UCF Main Campus: Orlando, Florida

we hope you will help us to recruit students from Santa Clara University to the NSF-DoD REU Site: Advanced Technologies for Hypersonic, Propulsive, Energetic, and Reusable Platforms (HYPER) at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

This REU site addresses challenges in space travel and energy production, advancing the fundamental knowledge needed to overcome technical barriers limiting hypersonic flight.
The 10-week program will be held next summer from May 26 – July 31, 2020. Participants will gain hands-on research training in challenges such as utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques for high-value components, integrating in-site monitoring of stress-strain evolution, developing novel methods for improved internal cooling and heat transfer effectiveness, and mitigating flutter through advanced rotor dynamic control. Many of these challenges rely on approaches that cut across disciplines and research techniques.
We are recruiting a diverse group of 11 participants. These students will:
• Engage in hands-on research guided directly by a faculty mentor and graduate student
• Interact with a diverse multidisciplinary team of researchers
• Visit the NASA Kennedy Space Center and various aerospace companies
• Participate in professional development workshops
• Gain in-depth training on numerical simulation software ANSYS
• Prepare for graduate school and a research-based career
Each REU participant will receive a summer stipend of $5,000, on-campus room and board, and a travel allowance to and from Orlando.

To learn more about the program, please visit our website at
The application deadline for this REU site is Monday, March 23rd, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT. Prospective participants may apply at
Will you share this information with prospective summer participants? Please free to invite them to apply by forwarding this e-mail and this REU flyer.

The organizers of the program are Drs. Ali P. Gordon and Jeffrey L. Kauffman ( I hope that you will let us know if you have any questions about the REU program or the University of Central Florida.

Ali P. Gordon, Ph.D. | 1-407-823-2455

Measurements with Optically Levitated Microspheres

Monday 4:00-5:00, Daly 206
Alex Rider, SLAC

Title: Measurements with Optically Levitated Microspheres

I discuss the development of optically levitated microspheres as a tool for precision measurements and tests of fundamental physics. Micron-scale dielectric spheres are trapped by the radiation pressure at the focus of a Gaussian laser beam, where the optical suspension enables thermal, electrical, and mechanical isolation from the surrounding environment at high vacuum. Forces and torques can be measured from changes in the angle and polarization of light both transmitted through and reflected by the trapped particle. Additionally, the charge of the particle can be controlled with single electron precision. We have used these methods for the following three purposes: to search for fractionally charged particles and dark energy, to develop measurement techniques for surface potentials, and to construct an electrically driven micro-gyroscope.

CMI Project Engineer Job Opportunity

Opportunity with Powerex, a Berkshire Hathaway Company

My name is Jill McMillan and I’m the HR manager for Powerex, a Berkshire Hathaway company.  I don’t know if you can assist or not but I wanted to reach out.  I was hoping you could share this full time employment opportunity with a couple of professors in the Mechanical Engineering Department who could then pass along to their students. 

We are looking for a Technical Sales Representative – Medical Gas Equipment  to start full time with us after graduation.  We will be conducting onsite interviews Tuesday, April 9 and students can apply for this position via Handshake if they are interested in an interview.  Below is a little bit about us and the position.

Thank you for your time and let me know if you have any questions!

The Technical Sales Representative will first complete a 6-month, Cross-functional Training Program, where they will rotate through several roles within various functions of Powerex.  After completing this extensive training program, they will take responsibility for the Pacific Northwest Sales Territory, where the National Sales Manager will then guide them through an intensive 12-month Sales Training Program.


Once in the field, the Technical Sales Rep is responsible for working with an established distributor network to expand the company’s market share in the medical and laboratory markets.  The successful Medical Sales Representative works closely with design engineers, distribution partners, end users (Hospitals and University Laboratories), and the National Sales Manager to develop sales strategies based on customer needs, competition, and market potential. 


Powerex has been a part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies for more than 30 years.  Due to significant growth in recent years, we are seeking additional talented and energetic individuals to join our team.  These new High-Potential Leaders will be critical to guiding Powerex’ future growth.  Powerex manufactures industry-leading Medical Gas Equipment for many critical applications within Hospitals and University Laboratories. 

Momentus Part-Time Job Openings

Hello Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering representatives of Santa Clara University, 

I am reaching out to you from a Bay Area Aerospace startup Momentus. We design and build spacecraft that will power in-space transportation services for small satellites. We are looking for any students who would like to work for us part-time while they are taking classes. We would obviously be working around their schedule but would be providing them with hands on experience in a innovative engineering programs. 
Please let me know if there is anyone I can contact to try to get the word out about this opportunity or is there are students interested. 

Moog Aircraft Group Job Openings

Internship/Entry Level Positions:

Product Engineering

Test Equipment

Email resumes to

Parker Aerospace Job Openings

Positions for College Grad Program
Irvine, CA
Additive Manufacturing (Central):
Engineering (CSO):

Devens, MA
Manufacturing Engineer (GTFSD):

Kalamazoo, MI
Quality (HSD):

Mentor, OH
Quality Engineer (GTFSD):

Ft. Worth, TX
Electrical Engineer (Central):

Ogden, UT
Manufacturing Engineer (CSD):

Other Entry Level or Co-Op/Intern Positions
Test Engineer (Irvine, CA):
Verification and Validation Engineer (Irvine, CA):

Manufacturing Co-Op (Ft. Worth, TX):
Quality Co-Op (Jacksonville, FL):

Internship Opportunity for Latino/a Engineering Students

Good afternoon,

We hope this message finds you well! I work with Hispanic Access Foundation, a national nonprofit that works to connect Latino communities with resources and opportunities. We're managing a summer internship program with the US Bureau of Reclamation for Latino/a engineering students.

We'd like to ask for your help in sharing this opportunity with talented Latino/a engineering students interested in paid summer internships that cultivate a strong understanding and appreciation of natural and cultural resources. Interns will work with senior engineers and scientists on ongoing design, research and or testing and gain valuable knowledge and professional skills to develop and maintain Reclamation resources. This program aims to prepare the next generation of enthusiastic and diverse stewards of American resources.

For more information regarding our internship program, benefits and time-frame, please review our promotional flyer attached or visit our website.

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 a 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 sustinable 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 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.


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 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, 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 world-wide 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 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 & tele-operation. 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 on 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 light weight 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 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 (

RSL Rover - ATV that has been converted to drive-by-wire and drive-by-wireless by a current capstone team.  The new opportunity is to build on this by adding in new autonomous capabilities for navigation.

Building a new small satellite and/or its subsystems, to include a pointing control subsystems - The development of small satellite subsystems (and possibly our own complete small satellite), to include work on a electromagnetic torque and/or a reaction wheel system for pointing control as well as a thermal control system. This project may also include design of new satellite structure (possibly a 3D printed structure), etc.

Marine robotics autopilots - Autopilot and advanced automation for boats and/or underwater robots. To begin, we may be developing a boat autopilot for a commercial partner. In addition, we will probably also be extending the automated naavigation capabilities of the current MARV boat so that it can do things beyond simply mowing the lawn, which it can do based on the current team's work. These advanced capabilities include things like planning its own routes, avoiding obstacles, detecting problems and signaling a remote operator, etc. Finally, currently do depth and heading control, but we're interested in adding more advanced capabilities such as underwater waypoint navigation, path control, altitude control, etc.

Automated control of bioprinters – This will significantly extend the capability of a bioprinter being developed by a commercial partner. We will be rebuilding all of the standard motion control portions of such a printer, controlling the flow of the biological material out of nozzle, controlling automated camera operation as a form of instrumentation control.

Advanced UAV controllers – The development of novel outdoor UAV controllers for real field missions.

Large antenna pointing control system – The development of improved antenna pointing systems (2 DOF trajectory control) to support satellite communications, with partners from NASA. This may evolve into a small production run commercial product.

Multi-robot control – Control of multi-robot clusters, to include clusters of quadcopters, groups of land rovers, fleets of robotic kayaks, and/or schools of underwater robots. Note that the underwater robots testbed is a simulator for a satellite formation flying project that we hope to conduct on the International Space Station. The multi-robot work would normally be conduected with partners from NOAA, MBARI and NASA.

Rowing system for one-handed sculling - A system is desired to allow disabled rowers to enjoy the sport of sculling.

The Poverty Crusher – Continue the design of a superior, cost effective, human-powered rock crusher to help improve the lives of the women in Nepal who crush rocks by hammer for a subsistence living. May include travel to Birendranagar, Nepal


Gazelle: A Human Powered Vehicle


Gravity Charger

SAFER: Search and Find for Emergencies Rover

Power flame

Cool Stove 1


Cool Stove 2

Torque Auditing Test Fixture for Hansen Medical's RCM Robot

Solar Panel Automated Chemical Etching Machine

Marine Autonomous Research Vessel

Forge: Thermal-electric Cookstove

RSL Rover: Disaster Response Vehicle

STEF: Solar Thermoelectric Evaporative Fridge

PCB Prototyping

Microfluidic E. Coli Detection

ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge

UAVs - 1 ongoing project on UAVs for medical deliveries - new platform design is an option.  Another project on using UAVs for specific field missions, potentially with new navigation techniques and multiple UAVs flying together.  We currently are developing new capabilities to provide real-world serves for the SCU Facilities Department, for a local winery, etc.

“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.”

RSL Rover - ATV that has been converted to drive-by-wire and drive-by-wireless by a current capstone team.  The new opportunity is to build on this by adding in new autonomous capabilities for navigation.

NASA Mission Control - we currently control 4 orbiting NASA satellites and more are manifested for launch within the next year.  Project opportunities include tracking systems, expanding the capabilities of our mobile control station, performing satellite analysis, etc.  We are also developing our own small satellite subsystems for an advanced flight demonstration of autonomous mission control.  Another opportunity involves control systems development for a SPHERES International Space Station experiment.  All three opportunities would involve working with graduate students.

Marine robotics - The first opportunity involves extending the capabilities of a new tethered underwater robot - potentially to include development of a peripheral (like a manipulator, sampler or coring system) or the ability to work autonomously with a group of underwater robots.  The second opportunity is the continued development of a deep sea biosphere instrument (that will most likely discover new forms of life and new compounds); this will operate at 6,000 m below sea level and will be dropped into the Earth's crust another 1,000 m.  Another possible opportunity involves the development of an autonomous underwater vehicle and/or the development of a hybrid aerial/marine vehicle.

Automated weed removal – The use of automated systems with mechanical and software subsystems that will work together to make the weed removal process on a vineyard more efficient. This will hopefully reduce the need for manual labor and pesticides on top of improving production rates.

Shaker Table Control System – Control system design and simulation with the goal of designing, building, implementing, and testing an active motion control system for an existing seismic shaker table.

Sunplanter - The design and construction of a demonstration, intelligent, tilt axis solar panel array, which also showcases some other amenities (lighting, speakers, etc.), and is portable, is desired. The intelligent control system would demonstrate single axis solar tracking as well as various preset modes (entertainment, rain cover, watch sunset, etc. ...) and manual rotation through a simple and robust programmable control system (Arduino platform).

Legacy Borehole - Design, fabricate and test a new automated borehole platform for assessing the chemical, hydrologic, and microbial conditions of the basaltic crust through the utilization of roughly 54 legacy boreholes worldwide.

Other Potential Continuation projects

The Poverty Crusher – Continue the design of a superior, cost effective, human-powered rock crusher to help improve the lives of the women in Nepal who crush rocks by hammer for a subsistence living. May include travel to Birendranagar, Nepal

AkaBot – system to create 3D printer filament from used water bottles for NGO in Uganda.

Solar Water Purification system – use concentrated solar thermal energy to boil and purify brackish water.

Small Wind Turbine – create a shrouded system for small wind turbines to increase power output

Head Injury Prevention – create wearable acceleration sensor to monitor concussion-like trauma for sports without helmets

Last Mile Vaccine Transport – further develop a mobile refrigeration system to hold temperature of vaccines within strict limits while delivering to remote villages

Musical for CP Patients – create a musical reward system in conjunction with CIMT therapy to help Cerebral Palsy patients.

Omoverhi, which means “lucky baby” in a native Nigerian language, is a project aimed at developing a low-cost and off-grid incubator for premature infants in underdeveloped parts of the world. The 2012-2013 team has redesigned the incubator, focusing mainly on cost and materials accessibility issues; however, development of an off-grid power source and energy storage remains a challenge. Prior teams stored energy in the form of latent heat associated with the melting transformation in a parafin wax. However, when consuming this energy, the wax re-solidifies, producing a barrier to heat transport (no convection in solids) into the water used as the incubator’s heat source. Ideas to circumvent these issues have included geometrically constraining the wax so that many channels of water may flow by the wax.

Centrifuge for the Materials Lab - This project would be suitable for a group of seniors with expertise in the following areas: (1) dynamics/vibrations, (2) controls, possibly with the assistance of an ELEN, (3) continuum mechanics/mechanical design FEM, and (4) to a lesser extend fluid dynamics/sedimentation.

The idea is to construct something comparable to a commercially available centrifuge having capacity for ≈2 L of a liquid suspension and capable of reaching rotational speeds up to 15,000 rpm (25,000XG). The model I used in grad school only reached 6,000 rpm, and we actually only ran it at about 1,000 rpm, so if they were able to achieve 1,000 rpm, I would consider it a success.

Some individual components could be purchased, such as the centrifuge tubes and holders, but I would expect the rotating arms/shaft to be designed, machined, and assembled by the students. External housing and user interface would also need to be designed/manufactured by the students, although items such as individual display components could be purchased. Control system need not consist of more than a speed control and timer.

I could serve as the adviser to the team and would also serve as the primary customer for the project and more generally represent university faculty from the perspective(s) of laboratory research interests and/or instructional laboratory exercises. The unit shown above retails for about $4,400 (Thermo Scientific Sorvall ST16), so I anticipate students should be able to achieve a working product with about $5,000. A useable product may require two years, with the first year being primarily focused on design and analysis.

Recycling and Purification of Sn-Bi Alloys -This project would be suitable for a group of students interested in materials and manufacturing processes. Perhaps it would be best reserved for those interested in pursuing graduate work in materials and with a decent understanding of phase diagrams and phase separation in two-component systems.

The idea here is to develop a process that involves melting and re-solidifying Sn-Bi alloys to produce progressively purer stock of the elemental constituents. A key challenge will likely be separating the liquid from the solid without the entire alloy re-solidifying into a single ingot. The actual mechanical workings of the device(s) used to achieve this may be fairly rudimentary (this would not resemble a commercially available product), and I suspect any mechanical engineer could develop them; hence my emphasis on an understanding of alloy phase equilibria. I envision the final device achieving something similar to zone refining, although that process is typically reserved for materials that are already fairly pure.

Again, I could serve as the adviser and customer. The idea is motivated to minimize Sn and Bi consumption in one of the MECH 15 lab experiments. I think this would make an interesting project/device. Future iterations of the project might involve processing in an inert gas or vacuum environment to avoid oxidation of the metals. Furthermore, something akin to zone refining may be difficult to achieve since one would likely end up with a significant portion of the material being at the eutectic composition, which is difficult to phase separate. It may be preferred to preferentially oxidize one of the metals using a controlled pO2 environment. The oxide could then be separated and reduced in a low pO2 environment.

Rotary Evaporator for the Materials Lab - This is something that could be used in a process subsequent to centrifuging, and although commercially available models

(≈$12k) are more costly than the centrifuge, I believe this requires somewhat less specialization on the part of the students than Idea #1. Students interested in thermodynamics, heat transport, and fluid dynamics would be suitable for this project. Control systems including rotational speed (much lower speeds in this instance) and a separate heating unit (<100°C) for a water bath are necessary. The control system does not require a timer in this case, as a simple on off switch would suffice, and rotational speeds would be 100 rpm max (<50 rpm is very realistic).

The challenge here is the glassware. I’m not sure what capabilities we have for manufacturing such parts, so this one might be a no go, but I thought I’d include because it nicely compliments Idea #1. It may be possible to construct something with a suitable transparent plastic (needs to withstand 100°C). Not ideal, but would make for an interesting project if they got something to work.

An Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) for Law Enforcement Officers - The objective of this project is to design, simulate, and implement a control algorithm which guide an existing UAV through some user-defined waypoints and stream live videos or take pictures for law enforcement officers. This is the continuation of this year Quad-rotor helicopter project.

Fuzzy-Logic Based Sprinkle System - The current commercial sprinkle systems work based on the system setting. They are open loop. i.e. they don't work based on any feedback. If the weather condition changes, a human should interfere and change the settings manually. The objective of this project is to measure the soil moisture and use online weather forecast, and some knowledge-based rules to make decision about the time and duration of watering of a residential typical-size landscape.

Designing, building, simulating, and implementing a control system interface for the existing shaker table. This shaker will be used for studying Earthquake effects on the structures in the Civil engineering department.

Designing, building, simulating, and implementing a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) for high school students. The final product should be inexpensive and easy to assemble and fly.

No name: Designing, building, simulating, and implementing a control system interface for a portable rotary inverted-pendulum [or other design, or multi-degree of freedom pendulum]. This educational module will be used in classroom to demonstrate the performance of different control systems.

Deep Sea Characterization Instrument - Through a new NSF funded program with Univ of Alaska Fairbanks and a number of other industrial and academic partners, we will be developing a novel instrument to characterize chemical and microbial life in the basaltic crust of the Earth, hundreds to thousands of meters underwater. Elements of this project include truss design, control of an undersea winch, development of a distributed instrumentation system, an ROV-based maneuvering and data pass-through system, systems engineering, and operational development.

Small Spacecraft Development and Launch Preparation - Building upon the work of this year's small satellite project team, next year's team will integrate a specific payload into the vehicle, explore the use of advanced communications and mechanisms, and work with collaborators from NASA Ames in order to deliverable a functional satellite system.

 NASA Satellite Operations - For nearly a decade, SCU has provided mission control services for a series of NASA small satellites. During the upcoming year, 10 new satellites are planned to be launched, and all will be operated by SCU. Project opportunities exist for the development of new satellite tracking systems, software-defined radio systems, distributed command and telemetry processing software, and physics-based functional modeling and analysis tools.

Marine robotic control systems - Students interested 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, automated boats, and a fleet of robotic kayaks. 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.

We're interested in a low-cost network of marine drifters - little sampling systems that would float with the current and possibly dive periodically to do vertical samples of the water column.... with the individual drifters possibly interacting with each other. We may do this with a few KEEN university partners as well. Individual teams would work to implement their best solution but would also have to work together to determine inter-node communication protocols, etc. I would put up some small amount of money and a standard set of parts to give to each team. Functional demos would be required next April, and a mission using successful designs would be conducted in May or June.

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.”

Solar water purification - The Solar Water Purification System utilizes the thermal energy from the sun, as well as the generated electricity from a photovoltaic solar plate to purify brackish water into clean, drinkable water. This purpose of this project is to supply clean water using renewable energy. The major parts of the system involve a boiler, a solar collector, and a condenser. Prior research used EES to code the entire process of the overall system. This would allow us to change a single parameter, such as the flow rate of the HTF duratherm, and observe how that would affect the output of water in the condenser or perhaps the required heat to achieve a desired output. This project would be best for groups interested in heat transfer design and thermal modeling and construction of a system.

Contact Us

Chair: Drazen Fabris
Administrative Assistant: Peta Henderson

Mechanical Engineering
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053

Heafey-Bergin, Bldg. 202


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