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 2019 Winners:

Team Aerate, comprised of Spencer Collins, Jake Fine, Ashwin Kishen, Yann Pfitzer, Connor Sendel, and Sam Weintraub, were winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.  
The number of air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, which will result in unsustainable demands on the energy grid and even more perilous carbon dioxide emissions. The majority of this growth will occur in humid regions that are unsuitable for existing, highly efficient evaporation-based air conditioners. To address this problem, the team developed a 2/3 scale evaporative air conditioner that utilizes nascent and efficient membrane dehumidification on the input stream and evaporative cooling on the output stream. The development of the Aerate system required a deep understanding of heat and mass transfer, detailed characterization of dehumidification membrane performance characteristics, vacuum pump analysis, advanced manufacturing, and a series of increasingly capable prototypes.
Team TerraNova, comprised of Jonah Arnheim, Claire Brundage, Allison Grey, Dylan Hawkes, Gregory Robinov, and Raphael Van Hoffelen, were winners of the William K. Gemmill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
Tunnels on the Moon may provide insight into its geologic history, access to valuable minerals, and safe harbor for long-term missions. Skylights above these tunnels, the result of tunnel roof collapses, provide a means of entry. However, traditional wheeled rovers would get stuck in these rubble-filled entryways. To address this problem, the team devised and manufactured the TerraNova rover, which features a novel cam and follower jumping mechanism to surmount these obstacles. The team performed aggressive strength and weight analysis of the system’s structural components in order to deliver a robot capable of traversing difficult terrain while carrying impactful sensor systems deep into lunar tunnels.
Team SharpShooter, comprised of Bennet Caraher, Paul Flores, Karina Gunadi, Miltos Kitsios, Matt Oslin, and Jake Welde, were winners of the John Couloucoundis Prize for the best senior design presentation.
Photographers today often use long shutter speeds to take high dynamic range, low light, or high depth of field pictures. Camera movement during these shots leads to unsuitable image blur. Currently, long-exposure photographs require the use of bulky equipment such as tripods and gimbals. The significant setup time required for these devices often leads to lost photographic opportunities. SharpShooter is a compact, portable camera accessory that can be attached to any conventional camera and provides stability approaching that of a tripod – all with near-zero setup time. The system utilizes reaction wheels, much like those used to change the attitude of satellites, to counteract external disturbances and provide crisp long-exposure images. The development of SharpShooter required significant stakeholder testing, a deep understanding of the mathematics behind image sharpness, thermal analysis, a lightning-fast control algorithm, and design for assembly.
Team S.S. MAPR, comprised of Sherry (Xiaoyi) Chen, Frank (Fangyi) Fan, Quinn Wu, Eunice Lee, Vanessa Howell, and Mia Mansour, were winners of the Judges’ Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
River ecosystems, which are often a source of drinking water, are constantly threatened by the discharge of harmful substances from industry and farming. Current water quality monitoring methods require significant labor costs and capital investment, which leads to infrequent and low-resolution measurements. Water authorities need a method to efficiently and economically track water quality across rivers and at multiple depths. Enter S.S. MAPR! S.S. MAPR is a low cost (approx. $3000) watercraft that is capable of collecting water samples and performing in situ water quality measurements to a 50-foot depth. The system is easily transported by one to two persons and collects measurements autonomously at waypoints specified by the user. The system promises to shorten the time between data collection from 1 year to 6 days while reducing operating costs by up to 80%.