On May 2 the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department will hold its annual Senior Design Project competition, the climax and showcase event for this MIE capstone course, “MIE 415: Design of Mechanical Systems.” The course and its year-end competition are considered “the integrative culminating experience” of the education in the MIE department. This required course for every mechanical engineering (ME) senior is designed as the zenith of the entire undergraduate engineering education for every student in the department. The event, which is free and open to all visitors, will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium on the UMass Amherst campus.
The projects include every kind of sophisticated invention from a revolutionary new electric blender to a sleek new adult tricycle frame. In the past, MIE students have created such amazing devices as a robotic arm for a disabled child to a collapsible mobile tower for the U.S. Army.
In previous years, our mechanical engineering prodigies have been sponsored by such well-known organizations as Yankee Candle, Ken’s Foods, BETE Fog Nozzle, the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, and the National Science Foundation. But this semester signals a whole new level of cooperation between private sponsors, on the one hand, and our talented students, on the other.
“This is a quickly growing segment for our course,” says Professor Bernd Schliemann, one of the faculty members teaching the spring classes in MIE 415. “We now have 10 sponsors for a total of 13 projects. We typically have only three to five sponsored projects per semester.”
This capstone course, co-taught this semester by MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty and Schliemann, acts as a proof of concept for the ME curriculum. The course demands that students use the knowledge and skills they have developed during their entire undergraduate education to design a utilitarian product, build a prototype, summarize the project with a poster, and finally make a verbal presentation to judges.
“These are our senior capstone design projects where our students apply everything they have learned in their engineering curriculum and their Gen Ed courses together in real-world projects,” says Krishnamurty.
The sponsored projects this semester are already propelling our seniors into the real world of designing mechanical systems for authentic entrepreneurs and companies with real-life needs, demands, and expectations. Each project is a giant step into the future career of an engineer.
For example, the SteelBlade company was conceived in a Springfield College dorm, and now the fledgling startup wants our UMass students to help design a groundbreaking (or, in this case, fruit-crushing) portable blender capable of incorporating a fruit infuser, a carbonation attachment, and other amenities into the blender bottle, all through detachable bases.
Meanwhile Treaty LLC., a biotech startup, has a couple of critical needs to fill with two different sponsored design projects. The company manufactures a biodegradable antifog coating called FogKicker that can be applied to glasses, goggles, bathroom mirrors, car windshields, and other surfaces. First, Treaty needs a machine that will accurately and efficiently fill its FogKicker bottles with the product’s formula on the assembly line. Furthermore, the company requires a device that can be used to promote the product at trade shows and in shops while FogKicker is being demonstrated to potential customers.
Other sponsors looking to upgrade their enterprises with the help of our up-and-coming senior engineers are Altenew paper crafting products, Smith & Nephew, Berkshire Group, Quabbin Wire & Cable Company, and Get a Grip Fitness.
Professors Krishnamurty and Schliemann cordially invite everyone from on campus and beyond to attend the festive event on May 2, when ingenuity, creativity, and engineering savvy will be on display in the Campus Center Auditorium at 5:00 p.m. (April 2017)