Senior Design Competition

As the capstone of Penn's practice-integrated mechanical engineering curriculum, the two-semester senior design sequence challenges students to bring theory, skills, general knowledge, and inventive energy to bear on substantial engineering problems. There is no "typical" project and the variety is always surprising: some projects lead to marketable products; some explore a theoretical principle; some are just for fun.  But taken together, they reflect the breadth and diversity of mechanical engineering.

Our 2018 Winners:

Team SeaSearcher, comprised of Alex Andalia, Nikhil Chari, Jay Fleischer, Thomas Macchio, Xavier Perraudin, and Eric Quesada, were winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize Winner for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.  
SeaSeacher is an autonomous, reverse-bow catamaran for coral reef data collection. Coral reefs have a large economic impact on coastal communities and existing coral reef data collection is unnecessarily time consuming and expensive. Working in conjunction with ecologists, team SeaSearcher devised a highly portable and stable vessel that can be remotely instructed to map a coral reef with 50 cm accuracy and cover an area of 40,000 square meters within a 6-hour time period. The project required a deep understanding of fluids, system dynamics, controls, and electronics.
Team Daedalus, comprised of Rome Arnold, Eugenia Bejar, Pele Collins, Max Newberger, Michael Pearson, and Rosalind Shinkle, were winners of the William K. Gemmill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
Currently, space vehicle recovery parachutes open in discrete stages (disreefing stages). These discrete stages result in large peak impulse forces that require overdesigned and costly vehicle support structures. Working in conjunction with SpaceX and NASA engineers, team Daedalus devised a novel disreefing system that utilizes a passive capstan device and active friction brake system to continuously control the disreefing process. Ultimately, the device promises to reduce vehicle launch costs by lowering peak impulse forces during vehicle descent. The development of the Daedalus system required an intricate understanding of strength of materials, controls, and friction.  
Team EpiPenn, comprised of Ben Bernstein, Spencer Fox, Alex Garcia, Reed Ginsberg, Daniel Orol, and Jacob Snipes, were winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for the best senior design presentation.
LifeWatch is a wearable epinephrine auto-injector in a watch-like form factor. The device was designed as an easy-to-remember and easy-to-carry solution for the 1 in 50 Americans that suffer from anaphylaxis. The team worked aggressively to miniaturize their injection device without sacrificing robustness and reliability. Notably, the team devised a novel, 2-stage needle release and injection subsystem, custom syringe capsule, and labyrinth seal. Their design process included finite-element analysis of the structural components, computational fluid dynamics to ensure reliable delivery of epinephrine, and design for manufacturability.
Team HUGS, comprised of Becky Abramowitz, Matt Caltabiano, Anna Estep, Erica Higa, John Killoran, and Sean Trahan, were winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
One in 68 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities that lead to panic and stress. Deep Pressure Therapy, akin to the feeling of being hugged, has been shown to calm children with ASD. The Helpful Undergarment for Getting Rid of Stress (HUGS) is a customizable, inflatable undergarment controlled by a mobile application that proactively provides deep pressure to children aged four to six in response to biometric and environmental signs of overstimulation. The HUGS team analyzed the thermodynamics of perspiration and cooling to ensure device comfort, investigated the mechanical performance of a multitude of fabrics to achieve the boundary conditions necessary for application of deep pressure, and validated the performance of their system using an array of force sensors and human comfort testing.