Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Project Descriptions




Advisor: Professor Shooter

Student Group: 8 students

Lab Time: Mondays 1-3.

Minibaja is an ongoing project sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Each year the students design and fabricate an all terrain vehicle that is raced in national competition in May. The rugged vehicle intended for outdoor enthusiasts must excel in several competitive tests. Among these are land maneuverability, water maneuverability, towing, suspension race, and a mud bog. The competition is completed with a 4-hour endurance race on a grueling cross-country course. In the past several years the Bucknell team has steadily improved its standing among the 50 plus schools that participate. Students participating on the Minibaja project MUST also enroll in the spring technical elective Mech 461 Minibaja project. This project is a lot of work, but every student who has participated has felt it was worth it.

Design of an improved oscillatory wind energy converter and construction of a prototype.

Advisor: Professor Knisely

Student Group: 3 or 4 students

Lab Time: Mondays 3-5

For several years we have investigated various configurations of an oscillatory wind energy conversion system (OWECS) in the Bucknell wind tunnel.  There are reports from early projects available.  Based on the outcomes of these earlier groups, a design for an improved mechanism will be undertaken, with modeling in Working Model and perhaps some numerical solutions to equations of motion.  After the design is completed, the group will select a nearby available location to erect and test a prototype OWECS.

Dynamic Friction Coefficient Apparatus

Advisor: Professor Cartwright

Number of Students: 3 or 4

Lab Time: Mondays 3-5

The object will be to design a working apparatus for measuring both the static and dynamic coefficient of friction. The method will be based on measuring the frequency of an oscillating beam. The completed apparatus will be used in lower level mechanics classes for the measurement of dynamic friction coefficients. It will suit a group who wish to take on a challenging design and have an interest in understanding and passing on their knowledge on basic concepts to others.

Dew Point and Relative Humidity Experiment

Advisor: Professor Peter Stryker

Number of Students: 3 or 4

Lab Time: Mondays 3-5

An experimental method of determining dew point and calculating relative humidity is needed for the Mechanical Engineering Engine Laboratory and for the thermodynamic classes. This project would require the students (3 or 4) to install a recently purchased dew point meter and additional equipment as required onto a cart that could be used in the engine lab or as a stand alone experiment for the thermodynamic classes. A laptop computer or the data acquisition computer in the engine lab would collect the data generated by this equipment. The students would be required to write the necessary code for the collection of the data by either computer and to write the code necessary for a short demonstration experiment.

Converting Steam Engines to Compressed Air

Advisors: Professors Thomas Rich and Peter Stryker

Number of Students: 3 or 4

Lab Time: Wednesdays 1-3

The Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, PA has a Shay Locomotive on exhibit. It is currently housed in a wooden building. The Shay was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1912 and weighs 70 tons. It has a unique system of vertical steam pistons and geared wheels. This gave it a short wheelbase and good traction that was used to haul log cars up the steep, narrow valleys in the old lumber regions. There are about 100 yards of railroad track leading out of the locomotive building. The museum would like the locomotive to run out that track under its own power. Unfortunately the steam boiler has deteriorated to the point where it cannot operate safely. The expense to rebuild it is too great. The museum staff would like to explore the concept of running the locomotive on compressed air.

This senior design project will involve an assessment of the Shay locomotive and the design of a system to power it with compressed air. The team will provide drawings and specifications for the equipment needed to accomplish this objective. As part of the background work for this project, the senior design team will procure an antique, industrial steam engine for the Mechanical Engineering Department. They will rebuild the engine and design a system to enable it to run on compressed air. They will develop the operational parameters for the engine’s performance, and use their experience on the industrial engine to inform their recommendations for the Shay.

Remote Environmental Monitoring Station

Faculty Advisor: Professor Thomas Rich

Number of Students: 3 or 4

Lab Time: Wednesdays 1-3

Bucknell University owns and maintains an environmental studies area called the Chillisquaque Creek Natural Area. It is located about 11 miles east of the campus. It contains 66 acres of fields, woods, and marshlands with a creek, streams and ponds. This senior design project involves the design, manufacture and testing of a remote environmental monitoring station. The specific properties and variables to be monitored along with the general features of the station will be determined after discussions with the primary client for the project, Dr. Elaine Keithan, Laboratory Directory for Environmental Science. It is anticipated that the data obtained from the station will be transmitted in real time back to Bucknell via some kind of remote data transmission system to be determined by the team. The team will also develop and/or procure the sensors for measuring the required data. The team will solicit help from various faculty and staff around campus as needed to handle the interdisciplinary aspects of this project. The resulting monitoring station will be field-tested at the Chillisquaque Creek Natural Area.

GEIS Circuit Breaker

Advisor: Professor Buffinton

Student Group: 4 students (Justin Brubaker, Marc Dickinson plus 2 others)

Lab Time: Wednesdays 3-5

G. E. Industrial Systems is a leading global provider of electrical distribution and control products for industrial, commercial, and residential markets. One important product that is utilized within each of these markets is the circuit breaker. A circuit breaker is an electrical control device that automatically opens a circuit under unfavorable operating conditions and serves as a switch during normal circuit operation.

This project focuses on the design and analysis of circuit breaker mechanical mechanisms for G.E.’s Spectra K-Frame breaker with the objective of eliminating the need for its electromechanical actuator. Currently, mechanism disengagement relies on sliding latch interfaces. This project will look into the effects of implementing new systems, such as rollers, linkages, etc. After a thorough design and analysis process, the best design(s) will be machined and tested. Results from the project will then be submitted to the value-engineering department at G.E. Industrial Systems, where a study will be done to determine if modifications to the Spectra K-Frame would be profitable.

Special Note: This project is open to two additional students to join Justin Brubaker and Marc Dickinson who arranged this project with GEIS.

Force-Based Robotic Assembly

Advisor: Professor Buffinton

Number of Students: 3-4

Lab Time: Wednesdays 3-5

The goal of this project is to demonstrate the capabilities of an ATI robotic wrist force/torque sensor that was recently purchased for use in the Bucknell Robotics Lab. As currently envisioned, the project will consist of 5 primary tasks: (1) testing and calibration of the force/torque sensor, (2) detailed design and fabrication of a robotic gripper (also known as an end-effector or hand) that can be mated to both the force/torque sensor and one of the robots currently in the Robotics Lab, (3) development of software that allows the sensor to communicate directly with the robot controller, (4) development of an appropriate assembly task that utilizes data available from the sensor and demonstrates the full capabilities of the sensor, and (5) programming of the robot controller to perform the desired task.

Design and Construction of a Fiber Composite Component

Advisor: Sailendra N. Chatterjee

Number of Students: 4

Lab Time: Wednesdays 3-5

Laminated fiber composite beam or plate elements (including sandwich constructions with foam or other cores) are being used for different applications because of some attractive properties, which can be obtained in such construction, such as light weight, energy absorption capability, bending-twisting and other coupling. In this project the students will design one of the following components to be constructed of fiber composites. Geometry and lamination sequence will be fixed so as to be attractive in comparison to the corresponding metal components in use. A suitable processing/manufacturing method will be chosen. A couple of full scale or subscale component will be manufactured and tested to demonstrate that performance goals are achieved.

Possible choice of components:

  1. Crank arm for a bicycle pedal- It is known that an open U-section can be manufactured at a lower cost, but they are torsionally less stiff than a closed section. The design should be such so that the twist can be significantly minimized by suitable choice of the U-section and lamination sequence. Unbalaced lamination sequence can yield significant bending-twisting coupling, which will be useful for this purpose. Special attachment details near the ends of the arm have to be designed for proper load transfer. Tests should involve loading as applied by a pedal at one end holding the other end fixed.

Body panel or bumper for a car or truck- Roof, floor and side panels as well as bumpers made of fiber composite laminates (as well as sandwich constructions) can significantly reduce the weight in comparison to those made of metals. The component will be designed to achieve the required stiffness, strength and energy absorption characteresics. Suitable manufacturing method will be selected. Static testing should demonstrate the adequacy of the design.