Throwback Thursday with The Boys

Happy Throwback Thursday! This week we interviewed Eric Biederman and Marshall Todd of The Boys. Their team set out to develop design guidelines and optimized solution for oversized aluminum doors. Keep reading to learn more!

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: Predict, model, and analyze performance of oversized aluminum framed glass entry doors

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Design & Predict Performance: Oversized Aluminum Doors,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: Kawneer, our sponsor (we were intrigued by structural FEA heavy project)

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: Design: hand calc for conservative prediction, very accurate modeling and validation, FEA results and recommendations, (split up team to produce deliverables – hand calc prediction guide and HOW-to-FEA guide)

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: Problems: FEA validation time. Slowly but surely became more familiar with the model and software, simplified geometry and gained better understanding of boundary conditions

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually?

A: Okay with our virtual project because all computer work, can see how it’d be more difficult for projects with prototypes ⁃ Would’ve been nice to create a scaled down prototype of our door to verify our FEA results after running tests (get to see their facility)

Q: How did it feel to work with Kawneer Company, Inc. and how did they help you with the creation of your project?

A: Kawneer reps were very good to work with: 3 people, 1 was overall project management, they supplied us with specific hand calculations, many data points across their whole door catalog, and model/FEA help

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating your project?

A: Everybody stayed involved and informed in all overall aspects of project, but split up to complete deliverables (others review and check for total completion)

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: . Find a team the prior semester, have idea of what you want to get out of capstone! Your teammates and a common understanding of your goals for the project are key for a great experience

Q: What are all of your members planning to do beyond GT?

A: Eric: grad school, George: grad school, Marshall: factory automation systems, Jake: Ravenvolt, James: Navy, William: Seaworld

Thank you Eric and Marshall for sharing your project with us!

Throwback Thursday with Boom Brigade

Happy Throwback Thursday! This week we interviewed Jenny Wang of Boom Brigade. The team set out to design an adaptable and easily reconfigurable Deployable Boom Assembly (DBA) Offloader to simulate the zero-g environment.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: The objective of the project was to design and build a machine for the deployment testing of spacecraft which simulated the zero gravity conditions it would experience inflight. The system was to be scalable for a large range of force and motion with the ability to interface with different types of satellite booms.

 

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Universal Offloading System,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: During a spacecraft deployment test, the mechanism is operated using an offload structure which counteracts its weight. These offload structures are typically designed and built to accommodate each specific test article. Ball wanted us to design a versatile, reconfigurable offloader compatible with a variety of mechanisms.

 

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: Our design process was very collaborative. We brainstormed ideas and solutions as a group. We each had our own role in the group and worked on different things, but we always made significant design decisions together.

 

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: There were a few times when parts of our physical prototype weren’t functioning as we intended, but we kept an open mindset and made changes to our design when we had to. We also asked our connections at Ball for help when we got stuck.

 

Q: How did it feel to work with Ball Aerospace and how did they help you with the creation of your project? 

A: Ball Aerospace was extremely supportive of our project. They allowed us the freedom to develop our own design solutions but gave us guidance when we needed it. Additionally, they provided us with the majority of the materials we used to build the machine.

 

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating your project? 

A: I think our group had great chemistry. My teammates were all very intelligent and motivated, and always maintained a positive attitude towards the project. We worked together very well in a manner that utilized each member’s strengths and capabilities.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Take the time to get to know your team and be sure to communicate well. Morale is very important. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your sponsor or faculty advisor for advice if you need it. Sometimes when you’ve been immersed in a problem for so long, an outside perspective can really help.

Thank you Jenny for sharing your project with us!

 

Throwback Thursday with The Chain Train

Happy Throwback Thursday! This week we interviewed Christopher Song of The Chain Train. This team worked on developing a tool-less chain tensioner to improve TTI’s RYOBI One+ Chainsaws.


Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: TTI wanted us to redesign the toolless chainsaw tensioning mechanism on their Ryobi ONE+ chainsaw. There were complaints about the tool-less tensioner not providing a sufficient tensioning range and not having as much tensioning precision as the tooled tensioner variant. We needed to design a tensioning mechanism that tensions the chain more effectively than the current toolless chain tensioner, that could provide user feedback, and could be retrofitted to the current chainsaw body. Ideally, this tensioner should incorporate the reliability of the tooled tensioner, but incorporate the ergonomics of the current tool-less chain tensioner.

 

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Tool-less Chain Tensioner design,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: A lot of our initial inspiration came from analyzing tensioning mechanisms from other chainsaws and other devices, such as automatic tensioners found in bikes and cars. One general theme we noticed was that most chainsaws tension their chains by moving the guide bar by rotating either a knob or a screw, which prompted the use of a scotch yoke mechanism.

 

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: We first delegated specific roles for each of the team members that played to their own strengths. This helped to evenly distribute the workload throughout the whole semester. Our process was as follows: concept ideation, testing/data collection, hand calculations, FEA simulation, 3D print prototyping, metal prototyping. We first came up with a few design concepts to carry out the basic functions of a toolless chain tensioner and created models in CAD with various combinations of our ideas. After, we collected load force samples to determine the worst-case scenario stress loads that could be applied to our design. In addition to hand calculations we also used FEA simulations to validate our theoretical calculated stresses on the design parts. We then move to fit testing and prototyping with 3D printed parts which served as trials before final metal parts. Having each person assigned to a specific role or specialty knowledge area really helped our team and project flow smoothly.

 

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: During the concept ideation and testing phase, several group members had to quarantine which prevented us from gathering and fit testing the 3D printed parts. This prompted us to shift all hands on work to only engineering analysis work and research. This caused minor interruptions in the timeline; however, we were still able to manufacture multiple prototype iterations despite this.

Another issue that set back our timeline was the HIVE messing up and delaying multiple prints. Our progress heavily depended on these delayed parts, so we reached out to other makerspaces like the invention studio an Aero makerspace to try to get the parts printed ASAP. We explained the situation to TTI, and they offered to help print parts for us. Luckily, with and help from TTI and other makerspaces, we were still able to make the fit-test prototypes we wanted. From this, we learned to reach out to multiple resources simultaneously, and it is wise to have duplicate prints (just incase one turns out poorly).

 

 

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually?

A: With the first few people that showed up to our online table, we were a little bit flustered. It was hard to see when someone had joined the table huddle, so someone had to constantly monitor the head count. We also talked over one another answering follow up questions. After the first couple people, we sorted out how to approach the follow up questions by having one team member vocally saying “I’ll take this” or redirecting by saying “I think [team member] can answer this.

 

Q: How did it feel to work with TTI and how did they help you with the creation of your project?

A: The TTI engineers who worked with us were very kind, knowledgeable, and a great resource to our group. We are very thankful for the engineers at TTI who guided us through this project and offered insight/advice. During our concept ideation phase, TTI helped us understand what kind of materials were realistic for this project, what design concepts would be more feasible, or the codes and standards that were applicable. The team was very nice; they went as far as to print some 3D parts for us and ship them to us when the on campus resources were slow and queued up.

 

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating your project?

A: Members of the chain train have had prior design experience from participating on SCC teams and past internships which allows us to have a diverse skillset. The diverse skillset allowed each member to excel at what they do best, while helping to cover other members’ weak spots. With six people on our team, we also had a lot of different ideas a different point of views. By having so many POVs, we were able to come up with many ideas and really analyze the pros and cons of each idea in depth. Also, we had a great advisor and a ton of help from the engineers at TTI.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Aim high and have checkpoints/a clear direction that the team is heading towards. This allows the team to finish a bulk of the before the deadline. For example, our team wanted a fully working developed design that was ready for production by the end of the semester. Although we could not achieve this goal, our timeline allowed us to finish a working prototype with a mix of metal and 3D printed parts. The design still needs improvement, but our work will help TTI fast track the next design for their next toolless chain tensioner.

When meeting with the sponsor, prepare a short weekly/ bi-weekly presentation for the engineers. This keeps meetings short and informative. During the meeting, assign a designated note taker to record any comments/ feedback from the sponsor.

Throwback Thursday With Best Team No Cap

This week we spoke with Rusit Patel about his team, Best Team No Cap, a Capstone Design Group sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. His team set out to create a methodology for optical data collection as well as a comprehensive software package for data analysis. Below is his interview with us; keep reading to learn more!

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: Sure, our project focused on improving optical measurements of sugar mixing processes to yield the best mixing processes for Coca-Cola’s new Freestyle machines that are in development. We utilized a planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) laser to illuminate dye in various high-fructose corn syrup mixtures to capture images and develop algorithms to measure the sugar concentration at an accuracy of +/- 0.5° Brix

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Optical Measurements of Beverage Mixing,” for your Capstone Design Project? At first, we weren’t sure how we would tackle this problem.

A: We decided to consider the applications of the technology we were trying to create, and how it could be used in the field. For example, we thought about how this issue falls into quality and how the solution we create could be implemented in a manufacturing application. This helped us come up with ideas that we ultimately brought to fruition. Coca-Cola had already established the problem of not being able to take accurate measurements. Utilizing our team’s various backgrounds and experiences in mechanical engineering and computer science projects and internships, we were able to create a solution and exceed the expectations set by Coke.

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: It definitely involved a ton of Microsoft Teams calls and GroupMe messages. As we came up with ideas we would send them in GroupMe and discuss on Microsoft Teams, letting everyone voice their opinions and ending meetings with decisions made and ideas decided upon. Sometimes, we would also spend a day or two brainstorming to ourselves and then coming back to the team and discussing what we came up with.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: One major hurdle to tackle was creating a procedure for gathering data. Figuring out the ideal settings for dye concentrations, camera settings, and laser settings involved input from all teammates. Since we had to be in the lab to gather data in person, we had certain members assigned to the same tasks to ensure consistent data was being gathered. We would also consistently test for COVID-19 before meeting in person.

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually?

A: I think it was definitely more comfortable and easier to manage being able to present virtually. After figuring out how to use Gatherly and having people on the team ready to present and screen share the PowerPoint, it was very easy to present the project and answer any questions that judges and attendees had.

Q: How did it feel to work with a Coca-Cola company and how did they help you with the creation of your project?

A: We were quite fortunate to work with a company as massive and innovative as CocaCola. They were very helpful and supportive of any ideas we had and helped us with the initial equipment setup, any troubleshooting from past engineers on the project, and were always willing to meet with us to hear about updates and give feedback.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating your project?

A: I think having a team that was different in their backgrounds and had a serious interest in the project really helped us succeed. Having a growth mindset and curiosity to learn across the board definitely helped us accomplish more than we thought we would have. We also played to each other’s strengths and assigned tasks based on people that were well-suited to take them on.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Be passionate about what you are doing and the problem you are trying to tackle. If you are genuinely interested and want to learn, there are no limits to what you and your team can accomplish!

Thank you Rusit for sharing your project with us!

Throwback Thursday with Flightie Talkie

This week we spoke with Baran Usluel of Flightie Talkie, a Capstone Design group sponsored by the 3D Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment to create a speakerphone payload for drones to communicate.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: Drones are used by the military, law enforcement and other industries to remotely navigate and surveil hazardous situations. However, there are no available solutions on the market for two-way communication with people around a drone. Our project was to design a long-range speakerphone payload for the FLIR SkyRaider R80D.

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Speaker Integration with SUAS,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: The project was proposed and sponsored by the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment of the US Army. They needed a solution to easily communicate with civilians or troops in combat zones through their existing unmanned aircraft.

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: The design process firstly started with defining and understanding the problem, doing all the relevant research, and then moving on to concept ideation and selection. After selecting our initial concept and starting design, we discovered new constraints that took us back to the drawing board and brought us to our final design. Our ME and ECE members worked as two subteams, designing and validating the relevant subsystems mostly separately. We relied on prototyping, experimental tests and theoretical analyses to validate the engineering requirements.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: The biggest challenge for the team was the fact that we did not have hands-on access to the drone, for security and inventory reasons. There was also limited information available online as it is a defense industry product. We circumvented this obstacle by coordinating with our sponsor representatives to collect measurements of the drone, which we used to make CAD and low fidelity mockups that we leveraged in our design process.

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually?

A: Presenting our project virtually at the capstone expo was certainly more comfortable because we were at home, but I believe it made it more difficult to connect with the judges and have natural conversations. I also felt like the ability to walk around and look at posters as in an in-person expo was lacking, although the Gatherly platform was definitely an improvement over typical web meetings.

Q: How did it feel to work with the 3D Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and how did they help you with the creation of your project?

A: We were fortunate to work with the Rangers on such a high-impact project. Simply put, it was really cool! They proposed the project, gave us guidance on the problem as needed, and arranged for us to visit Fort Benning to test our prototype.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating your project?

A: Our team members had a variety of strengths, so we were able to divide responsibilities, work individually and communicate well. We cared about the project and wanted to produce something we were proud of. Put together with helpful advisors and sponsor representatives, this set us up for success.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: The initial project planning stages before you get to designing are more useful than you think; they can save you a lot of time later if done right. And once you get to the design stage, the semester will fly by so try to make sure you are constantly making progress! Finally, make sure each team member is clear about what is expected of them; overcommunication is better than a lack of communication.

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Thanks Baran for speaking with us this week!

Throwback Thursday with the QuaranTEAM

Happy Throwback Thursday! This week we interviewed Harrison Kollias of the QuaranTEAM, which developed the fluid controls system of ResonanceDx’s rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: We’ve spent last semester working with our sponsor, ResonanceDx, to develop a brand new, innovative infectious disease diagnostic test system. This new system will enable accurate test results to be delivered to the patient within 5 minutes, much faster than any other test on the market. Due to the pandemic, ResonanceDx’s focus shifted to meeting this goal specifically for COVID-19 diagnostics. Our team was responsible for the development of the fluid control system for a test cartridge used in this system.

Q: What was the creation process like?

A: Our team worked well with each other by evaluating each other’s strength and then clearly defining roles for each member of the team. The creation process went very smoothly as a result and our team never had any issues with meeting deadlines.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way?

A: Teamwork was never an issue for us, but one of the more prominent design challenges for the system was creating a way to move fluid without having powered electronics within the fluidic system. Our solution incorporated converting rotational motion of a motor into linear motion in a syringe to pump the sample fluid through the fluidic channels. This provided for a simple control scheme that only required the powered rotation of 2 motors to control the entire fluidic system.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating a fluidic package for Covid-19 rapid diagnostic tests?

A: Our team worked hard to understand and define the problem as early as possible so that we could start designing and prototyping very early in the semester. A design will be more successful with more iterations that can be evaluated. 

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Define goals early, stay as organized as possible, and communicate constantly. There are no shortcuts.

Throwback Thursday with Team T.A.K.E.O.F.F.

For this Throwback Thursday, we interviewed Sebastian Delgado, a member of Team T.AK.E.O.F.F. Sebastian’s team helped design their “High School Startup Project,” where they created a plan to help teach students and teachers about the engineering field through the process of building a drone. With his teammates Teja Huggins, Nicole Catanzariti, Michael Benben, Maria Jose Serrato Gutierrez, and David Ramsey, he was able to present during the virtual Fall 2020 Design Expo.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: We created a platform for high school engineering projects. Students will be provided with a DIY drone assembly kit to learn about how different components interact with each other. Additionally, they will be tasked with designing and implementing a delivery system on that drone to potentially be used in real world situations (medical deliveries, search and rescue, etc). We designed a delivery system prototype as an example of what the drone is capable of carrying. In order to assist the teachers and students throughout the learning process, we also provided 2 workbooks. They will teach students how drones work and will provide guidance in learning how to make additions to the drone (CAD, micro controllers, programming, 3D printing, etc.)

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “High School Startup Project,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: The team was very interested in creating a product that would help younger students learn and inspire them to become engineers. Additionally, we noticed that drones are a very exciting and growing product that would keep students interested and engaged.

Q: What was the creation process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: The team was meeting regularly with representatives from the Fulton County Innovation Academy and Global Impact Academy to understand what type of project they were looking for. In these bi-weekly meetings, the team would update the sponsors with project progress. Additionally, we did a lot of research on existing drone project platforms geared towards high school students to learn about what was successful and what wasn’t. In order to complete the bulk of the work, the team was split into 2 “sub-teams”. Half of us were focused on creating the workbooks and writing the curriculum for the schools, and the other half of the team was focused on the physical design of the drone and drop-off mechanism. We were in constant communication as a team, so everybody knew what was going on at all times. Additionally, we would have frequent team meetings so that everybody was prepared to meet with the sponsors.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: It was tough to present project updates with the sponsors without being able to meet regularly in person. In order to make virtual meetings as productive as possible, short PowerPoints were created for each meeting. If physical additions needed to be shared, somebody would bring the drone up to the camera and zoom in on specific components. Also, CAD models were created and presented by screen-sharing to show how small components functioned. At the beginning of the design phase we were focused on trying to design a drone from scratch and noticed that would have been incredibly time-consuming and inefficient to the ultimate goal of creating a project that teaches high school students. We decided it was more worth our time to choose a DIY kit off-the-shelf and focus on having students focus on designing/programming additions to the drone instead of just reading through our engineering models and drawings.

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually during this pandemic?

A: It was a little difficult because it’s hard to use gestures to present points on the project. You can’t really point at things very easily, or show how something moves. In order to prepare for these, a lot of videos and short animations had to be prepared in case questions were asked about specific components.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating a model to educate students and teachers alike in the engineering field?

A: We believe that our project was successful because it was created for a big range of experience levels. The provided workbooks are perfect for students/teachers who have no idea how drones work, and for those who know how drones work but don’t know how to make additions to them. The workbooks combined with the open-ended challenge of creating a drone delivery system allow for students and teachers of all drone experience levels to learn and participate in our project model.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Stay on top of the school work (reports, presentations, etc) needed for the capstone class. It is very easy to focus on making progress in designing a product, so a lot of teams get stuck having to cram a 30 page report into a few days of work. As your team makes progress in certain components of the design process go ahead and start creating the figures needed for the report and write a couple paragraphs about it.

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Throwback Thursday with Helping Hand

For this Throwback Thursday we interviewed James Lewis, a member of the Helping Hand Team, who supported the creation of the project, “Intelligent Autonomously Navigating Mobile Platform.” With the team’s sponsor, LinkDyn Robotics, they were able to redesign and innovate an older prototype from the company. James was able to present with his group mates, Will Flanagan, Peter Dyson, Lachlan Suter, Jeremy Heit, and Guilherme De Castro, during the Fall 2020 Virtual Expo.

Platform with drivetrains and sensors removed.

Platform with all sensors and drivetrains attached.

 

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: Our project was to redesign and upgrade a prototype mobile platform from our sponsor, LinkDyn Robotics, to improve the device’s manufacturability and obstacle avoidance. These types of robots are often used in warehouse automation for material handling but may also become common within the hospitality industry. Our final product was a 2-foot by 2-foot by 1-foot tall wheeled robot built around a welded steel frame with modular drivetrains. A depth camera and LIDAR sensor were integrated into the design to map the environment and navigate through it. As part of our deliverables, we manufactured our design and wrote the software to demonstrate autonomous navigation in real-world testing.

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the “Intelligent Autonomously Navigating Mobile Platform,” for your Capstone Design Project?

A: LinkDyn Robotics is the maker of a very advanced force-control robotic arm. However, to better serve their customers they needed a way to move their arms around a workspace for tasks like picking and placing inventory on shelves. One of our team members built the first prototype for LinkDyn over the previous summer as an intern, and from this very unpolished design we identified a variety of potential improvements. A lot of inspiration for the design and sensor choice came from looking at existing mobile robots on the market, while the software design was inspired by open-source projects integrated into ROS (Robot Operating System) and research into low-speed autonomous vehicles.

Q: What was the creation process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: Both the physical and software components of this project were quite demanding, so we split into two subteams to tackle each aspect in parallel. While half the team was working on the mechanical and electrical design, the other half used a simulation environment consisting of ROS and Gazebo to develop and test the autonomous navigation stack. Each member was typically assigned individual tasks and larger group sessions were used whenever an issue posed a persistent problem. In the final weeks before the expo, we met in person to assemble the mobile platform and test.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: Since we were working almost entirely remotely, it was difficult to make sure that everybody had access to the same tools and was able to contribute. The mechanical designs were created using Solidworks and synced between members using a shared Google Drive folder. For the software subteam, each member needed access to the ROS+Gazebo simulation environment, but severe compatibility issues arose. To address this issue, we created a docker image with the full set of simulation and development tools we were using.

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually during this pandemic?

A: Presenting remotely definitely made it harder to connect with the audience and judges. The expo felt less personal and it was much more difficult to fully convey what our project involved. While we put the mobile platform on camera during the presentation to show that we actually manufactured our device, it would’ve been much easier to demonstrate our device in person.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating an autonomous mobile platform?

A: Our team spent a lot of time making sure that the transition from simulation to hardware would be smooth. We only had a week or two to test on actual hardware, so any trouble transitioning could have prevented us from successfully demonstrating our work. The Docker environment and Gazebo were crucial for this since it allowed us to run our full stack in simulation in an almost identical manner to the way we ran it on the physical system.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Issue tracking is a great way to formally assign team members tasks, even if those tasks aren’t software related. It also makes it easier for team members to be aware of what others are working on, leading to a more cohesive effort. The importance of communication can also never be understated.

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Throwback Thursday with the C.I.D. Capstone Team

Today, we interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert, a member of the C.I.D. Capstone Expo Team sponsored by Rheem. Their project set out to design a device to heat water without right at the base of a sink without an external source of power. C.I.D. was able to overcome issues as a direct result of the beginning of the pandemic for the Spring 2020 Expo. Today, Elizabeth talks about what she and rest of her group were able to accomplish. Her team included: Casey Brown, Marissa Rubino, Macey Parrott, Evan Ragoowansi, and Mason Hodge.

The C.I.D. Team on a call with blankets and pajamas to showcase what it was really like working on the capstone project for the latter half of the semester.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: The project my team worked on for senior design was centered around creating instant hot water for a sink. Our industry partner, Rheem, prompted us to create a ‘black-box’ device that a consumer could, ideally, self-install under their sink to generate instant hot water without an external power input. This project aimed to reduce water waste that comes from running the tap while waiting on the water to warm up.

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of your Capstone Design Project?

A: Our team wanted to work on a sponsored project because we felt we could have the most impact that way. We were also primarily focused on thermal systems and agreed that the project with Rheem was both impactful and well within our range of capabilities.

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish the design and research?

A: As funny as it may sound, one of our first inspirations came from a comment one team member made about just putting a hot rock under the sink to warm the water. We were also very fortunate to have two representatives from Rheem come to campus one day and run a guided brainstorming activity with our team, and a lot of ideas came out of that. The design process for our team was fluid, we had good communication between teammates, and with the structure provided by the senior design course, we always knew where we needed to be in the process. Our team had 6 members, so it was easy to divide up into teams of 2 or 3 to split tasks, which is what we did often because it can be difficult to coordinate 6 schedules. We pursued 6 different ideas initially and then cut those down to 3 ideas after feedback from presentations to our faculty advisor and Rheem. Those three ideas were flushed out and eventually narrowed down to one after another round of presentations. Once we did reach a final design idea, we were able to play on team members’ strengths to work towards the completed CAD designs, literature review, and paper.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: The largest obstacle that our group faced was the Coronavirus pandemic. Going into spring break, we weren’t sure what to expect, but losing time in the weeks after before school started back and when teachers were trying to restructure class was tough on the group. We rallied along with the rest of the school and found a solution, but it took our project on a very different route. Originally, we had planned to work with Rheem to build the tank that would go under a sink in the final months of the project, but instead, our project became more theoretical with an added a literature review.

Q: What do you think made your project stand out?

A: Our project stood out for its novelty. Even the initial prompt with its lofty goal of no external power input would have been incredible to see come to fruition. The results of the project analyzed the validity of using waste heat recovery across the home to pre-heat the water so it comes out of the faucet at a desired temperature. While innovative, it would be difficult to retrofit such a system in pre-existing homes which is why the project was considered more theoretical in the end. Despite the heavy theory, all the physical exchangers necessary to the project were also designed by the team during this process.

Q: What do you think made your team successful while working with Rheem?

A: Rheem provided us with a lot of helpful feedback and left the door open for a lot of creativity during the whole process. We always had multiple team members that were copied onto email communication with our contact at Rheem to ensure we were timely and efficient at communicating progress, questions, or the need for advice. One of the most helpful things was talking with the plumbers who work for Rheem and getting their experienced feedback as well as that of an R&D team member.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: Our advice for future teams is to ensure you build a diverse team with varying strengths.  Our group had members with thermal systems experience, manufacturing experience, and CFD experience.  This helped us accomplish our tasks much more thoroughly as we could play to our strengths. Another word of advice is that all ideas should be considered.  Our group had the policy that no idea is a bad idea, where all members’ ideas were talked through, no matter how far-fetched they sounded at first.

Throwback Thursday with DIY Engineering

For this Throwback Thursday, we wanted to take a look back at the winning Capstone Design Project from the Fall 2020 Expo made by DIY Engineering. Their project, a Retrofit Cantilever CNC Plasma Cutter, was sponsored by Tab and Slot, which is the company the team drew inspiration from to create their design. Today, we interviewed Zachary Shear, a team member and a 2020 graduate of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. The rest of the team included Aidan McGannon, Max Zegers, Ryan Grigsby, and Shane Walker.

Q: Could you give us a brief description of your project for those who may not know about it?

A: Our capstone project was to develop a removable CNC plasma cutter attachment for a line of welding tables currently being sold by our industry sponsor Tab and Slot.

Q: Where did you first draw inspiration for the idea of the fabCutter for your Capstone Design Project?

A: We drew inspiration for our design from the existing Tab and Slot line of products. It was important to us that the design was consistent with the other Tab and Slot products and capable of being manufactured in house. These two factors inspired us to use Tab and Slot’s method for creating three dimensional structures out of sheet metal components that are easy to manufacture using their laser cutting capabilities.

Q: What was the design process like and how did you and your teammates come together to finish your project?

A: We utilized an iterative design process to come up with the overall concept for the fabCutter. In the beginning we focused on understanding the existing technology and any constraints we had to work around. Then team members focused on different aspects of the design to ensure that no component was overlooked. In the end, we were very lucky to have access to a shop facility outside of Georgia Tech thanks to Ryan Grigsby. Access to the shop space made it possible for the team to build a prototype and learn things that were missed while virtually developing our product.

Q: What were some of the problems that you faced along the way and how did you overcome those obstacles?

A: The two most difficult problems we faced were the distance from our sponsor and COVID-19 limiting our access to campus resources and our ability to meet with each other in person. Tab and Slot is located in Isanti, MN. All the components they sent us had to be shipped which sometimes resulted in delays that limited the amount of time we had to work. The problem of access to resources was solved by Ryan who was able to secure us access to the shop at his work where we could meet with each other in person.

Q: How did it feel to present your project virtually during this pandemic?

A: Virtually presenting our project had both benefits and drawbacks. The virtual platform allowed us to create a video which streamlined the presentation process. However, when we were speaking or answering questions the virtual platform made it hard to interact with judges and other people watching the presentation. As with everything else during the pandemic, the capstone teams were forced to adapt and develop new skills. Virtually presenting the project was difficult for me, but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to practice that while still in school.

Q: What do you think made your team successful in creating a product that can help small and large metal shops? 

A: We focused on making a product that would work for the intended customer. Businesses of that size have a lot of considerations other than equipment capabilities when purchasing a new machine. Our sponsor helped us to understand what the potential customers would be considering so we could take a wholistic approach to designing the fabCutter.

Q: Do you have any advice for future teams?

A: I’d recommend that future capstone teams take the time early in the semester to really understand the scope of their project. Many teams, including ours, were forced to limit the scope of the project toward the end of the semester to have a finished product. If you can start the semester with an achievable project scope you will have significantly more time to spend developing the final project and end up with a better result.

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