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.
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%.
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.
Team This is … Spinal Map, comprised of Elyse Chase, Kevin Crossley, Sterling Graham, Nancy Linxuan Fang, Marshall Pritt, and Alysha Singh, were winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize Winner for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.
Backster is a wearable for tracking and visual feedback of the torso during exercise and rehabilitation. Backster’s six absolute orientation sensors communicate real-time to a computer model of the user’s torso allowing the user to correct their form on-the-fly.
Team Volonomic, comprised of Patrick Boyle, Courtney Kobata, Cheryl Liu, Daniel Shanks, and Aaron Weinstein, were winners of the William K. Gemmill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
VI is the first fully-actuated, 6 degree-of-freedom, multi-rotor aerial vehicle capable of stable, controllable flight in all directions and orientations. The dexterity of VI allows the craft to operate in spaces inaccessible to existing aerial vehicles, notably quadrotors.
Team Chillers, comprised of Ashley Berg, Nick Demes, Sam Gaardsmoe, Dan Harris, Drew Lilley, and Rachel Schwimmer, were winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for the best senior design presentation.
Frio is a personal, wearable cooling device in a watch-like form factor. This low power device takes advantage of evaporative cooling and forced convection to provide 5 hours of cooling per charge.
Team The Chefs, comprised of Sam Altland, Will Constan, Brian Dhingra, Anthony Faustini, Jasper Liu, and Jeremy Wright, were winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
Automelette is an automated, self-contained, made-to-order omelette station for commercial dining establishments. The Automelette allows a user to select from six toppings and the standardization of the omelette cooking process yields consistency in taste and quality of the final product.
Justin Chang, Foster Collins, Aedhan Loomis, Andrew McGrath, and Mike Meigs, winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize Winner for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.
SCUBAssist is a semi-autonomous underwater vehicle that aims to be the ultimate recreational SCUBA diving assistant. The vehicle is capable of both scouting dive sites over tethered control and semi-autonomously following and recording video of a SCUBA diver during a dive. Finalist in the 2016 Intel Cornell Cup.
Golam Kibria, John Kim, Christian Wang and Tighe Costa, winners of the William K. Gemill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
HAMR is a low-cost holonomic robot platform based on a unique drive mechanism that is simpler and more robust on uneven terrain than conventional omnidirectional systems, such as powered casters and omniwheels. By providing maneuverability for other robotic systems like manipulators or robot-human interfaces, HAMR can enable research and lower the cost barrier for consumer robotics. Finalist in the 2016 Intel Cornell Cup.
William Cheng, Sasha Klebnikov, Christina Springer, Chevonaé Walcott, winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for the best senior design presentation.
Team Oceanus has developed an autonomous system to provide for the fresh water demands of families in remote locations by directly integrating a Wave Energy Convertor (WEC) with a reverse osmosis desalination system. Our solution is a novel, compact system that uses springs to mechanically capture and modulate the rapidly varying pressure of ocean waves. Without such control, the lifetime of reverse osmosis membranes would be greatly reduce.
Jessica Hasson, Carder House, Sarah Lawson, Mihiri Rajapaksa, winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
Team MoviFlex developed not only a low cost and energy-efficient, but also engaging stationary bike to address the rehabilitation needs of children afflicted with Cerebral Palsy in low resource communities. The estimated manufacturing cost of the MoviFlex bike is $500-1000, almost an order of magnitude cheaper than existing solutions.
Bahram Banisadr, Mark Gallagher, Kristopher Li, Anthony Terracciano, winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize Winner for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.
Mechanek was designed to withstand the intense forces present in a crash. Starting with simple static analysis, components were designed and then analyzed using finite element analysis as well as destructive mechanical testing. These tests guided material selection and design revision that resulted in a device manufactured to standards developed by racing governing bodies including FIA, SFI, and NASCAR. They also participated in the Cornell Cup.
John Doyle, Manfred Reiche, Tommy Sutton, and John Whitman, winners of the William K. Gemill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
Turbox was designed to take advantage of the abundant wind energy in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically intended for low-consumption power generation in remote, off-grid locations. Turbox is an inexpensive device that is easy to transport and can be assembled without tools or technological expertise.
Adrian Lievano, Aadithya Prakash, Freddy Hernandez, Matthew Lisle, Steven Xing, winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for the best senior design presentation.
BionUX is a prosthetic arm with the ability to recreate touch for its users. Custom designed sensors at the fingertips collect pressure and vibration data which enables the arm to recreate these sensations by pressing into and vibrating on the skin through a haptic actuator. They also participated in the Cornell Cup.
Greg Caso, Kevin Cruz, Davita Frankel-Bonacci, Clara Midgley, and Rob Ritchie, winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
Trio is a reimagined tripod that can be set up quickly and simply. Trio has two activation levers that control a system of spring-loaded, toothed locks inside of all three legs. Trio can be set up in three steps, all in under 30 seconds.
Sawyer Brooks, Emily Samuelson, Sebastian Schloesser and Cristina Sorice, winners of the Francis G. Tatnall Prize for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness.
SPARC, or small-scale solar-powered automated oceanic research vessel and sensing platform, is a vessel whose capabilities include self-righting catamaran design, automated navigation via compass and GPS, and versatile sensor interface for data collection. Design is easily scalable in size to meet the needs of a variety of users. This team also participated in the Cornell Cup.
Alex Neier, Joe Hill, Joe Polin and Justin Starr, winners of the William K. Gemill Memorial Prize for outstanding creativity.
PubLock is an electromechanical, ground-mounted community bike lock network. Capabilities include extreme tamper resistance, modularity, scalability, and access via RFID and/or Bluetooth communication protocols.
Jonathan Cousins, Rafi Pelles, Brandon Jennings, Jon Nino and Iason Stamatiadis, winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for best senior design presentation.
Persona is a bed-mounted robotic arm with three joints developed to assist a mute quadriplegic with daily tasks. Capabilities include direct control via internet-based interface, automated control for specific repetitive tasks, and replaceable end effecter.
Keelen Collins, Kate Wessels, Sarah Martezian, Jon Law and Kristin Marra, winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges.
trueWheel is an automated electromechanical bicycle wheel truing system. Capabilities include wheel rim displacement sensing, automated spoke nipple manipulation and wheel rotation, and predictive programming for optimized wheel truing based on wheel rim displacement and inputs such as spoke number and spoke lacing pattern.
Lauren Davis, Michael Kofron, Stella Latscha, Gabrielle Merritt and Anthony Stroffolino, winners of the Tatnall Prize for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness. They also won third place at the 2013 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
The H.E.R.A.L.D. (Hybrid Exploration Robot for Air and Land Deployment) is a search and rescue robot that combines a nimble snake form to travel through rubble with the surveillance capability of a quadrotor. H.E.R.A.L.D. operates in three modes: 1. all three robots operate independently; 2. the two snakes carry the quadrotor to save battery life; and 3. the quadrotor carries a single snake at a time over impassable obstacles. This novel system will be used by the Modular Robotics Laboratory as a research platform for computer vision, mapping, control and victim location.
Jason Gui, Drew Karabinos, Jonathan Kern and R. Blake Winston, winners of the Gemmil Award for outstanding creativity. They also won first honorable mention at the 2013 SEAS Senior Design competition.
The inVigo Glasses were designed to provide a sleek, inexpensive, and reliable method to combat the problem of unintentional drowsiness. The inVigo Glasses monitor a user’s blinking patterns in order to accurately and reliably detect signs of drowsiness. Once the glasses detect that a user is dozing off, they send a digital signal to the user’s phone, ensuring the user regains his/her alertness before a potentially dangerous situation arises.
Elizabeth Beattie, Nicholas McGill, Nicholas Parrotta and Nikolay Vladimirov, winners of the Judges Choice Award for excellence based on the discretion of the judges. They also won second place at the 2013 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
TitanArm is an upper body exoskeleton capable of augmenting strength and mobility in occupational lifters, while offering improved physical therapy results for patients and doctors. The suit was designed and manufactured at Penn, and is powered by a brushed DC motor through a flexible cable drive. The system also takes position, velocity, and force measurements, and can stream that information to a control station or supervisor for data analytics.
Nicholas W. Bartlett, Neel Doshi, Nisan Lerea, Adam Libert, and Carlee Wagner, winners of the Gemmil Award for outstanding creativity.
Advisor: Dr. Jonathan P. Fiene
Waterjet cutting is a manufacturing process that uses a high velocity stream of water forced through a small orifice to cut through plastic, metal, stone, and many other materials. Existing water jet machines are large and expensive, limiting them to industrial settings. Their project, MEAM Waterjet, is a small-scale waterjet, making this technology available to universities and hobbyists.
Annett Bordoley, Rikki Irwin, Viraj Kalyani, Craig G. McDonald and Dorsey E. Standish, winners of the Tatnall Prize for an outstanding project showing ingenuity, proficiency and usefulness. They also received Second Honorable Mention at the 2012 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
Sponsor: Dr. Vinay Nadkarni
Advisor: Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker
Their project is entitled D1GIT: Automated, Temperature Calibrated Measurement of Capillary Refill Time. Because of the inconsistencies in the current method of manual capillary refill testing, the team set out to automate the process, collaborating throughout the year with doctors from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The result is D1GIT, a compact and lightweight device designed to read normal and temperature-corrected capillary refill time to the tenth of the second. At a manufacturing cost of under $100, the device has the potential to be sold commercially for use by doctors, EMTs, and nurses.
Sarah Clark, Sydney E. Jackopin, Jacob Orloff, Michael L. Posner and Michael Siegel, winners of the Couloucoundis Prize for the best presentation of a Senior Design project.
Advisor: Dr. Bruce Kothmann
Their project is entitled StoRC: Search to Rescue Craft. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide a way for taking pilots out of harm’s way during dangerous missions, either from weather or military threats. StoRC explores the application of autonomous flight and payload delivery on a model airplane. The system presented uses a UAV to deliver supplies to a target location via a parachute. The UAV’s guidance system uses GPS technology to autonomously navigate to a target location. Once on target, the system would combine data from its sensor package with a drop trajectory model to calculate a release point for its payload. After releasing its payload, the UAV would then autonomously flies back to its home base for human-controlled landing. Models of the UAV’s physical dynamics and the autonomous control scheme were created and used to develop initial parameters for the control code. By performing test flights and logging flight data, these models were validated and were used to build more complex autonomous behaviors. Stabilized flight, autonomous drop trajectory calculations with payload release, and autonomous navigation methods were all implemented and successfully tested, though full start to finish missions are still pending.
Andrew N. Brown, Karan H. Desai, Andrew H. McGrath, Alfred “Hurst” Nuckols III and Grant P. Wilson, winners of the Best Poster Prize for the most effective poster/demonstration describing a superior project.
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Jackson
Their project is entitled Hydraulic Drivetrain with Regenerative Braking. The Hydraulic Drivetrain with Regenerative Braking Team set out to demonstrate the ability to scale down hydraulic hybrid drivetrains for their use in passenger vehicles. The team tested this through replacing a go-kart’s drivetrain with a custom built hydraulic drivetrain with regenerative braking. Utilizing commonly available parts, the team was able to construct and analyze a hydraulic drive train on a scale even smaller than a passenger vehicle and assess its potential for commercialization.
Evan Dvorak, Lucas Hartman, Geoffrey Johnson, Kathryn Rohacz and Katherine Savarise, winners of the Gemmil Award. They also came in First Place at the 2011 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
Advisor: Dr. Jonathan P. Fiene
The team set out to create a bicycle that would push the boundaries of integrated systems. The result is ALPHA, the first bicycle with a fully internal drivetrain including an electronically-controlled clutch allowing the rider to switch between fixed-gear and freewheeling configurations. All of the bike’s components, including a belt drive, brakes, and an onboard electronics suite, are housed inside the custom-machined frame and were fabricated entirely in-house.
Tal Bar-Or, Gaurav Gupta, Juan Jacobus-Avila, Ishan Sehgal and Ritwik Lodhiya, winners of the Tatnall Prize. They also came in Third Place at the 2011 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
Advisor: Dr. Andrew Jackson
Their project is entitled the HydraVita – High-Speed Water Filtration System for Developing Countries. It is the first sterilization system to utilize a silver nanowire/carbon nanotube-coated cotton filter. This allows for higher speed and lower cost water sterilization than existing methods.
Michael Boyle, Nihar Dharamsey, Simon Healey, Nihar Naik and Andrew Stanley, winners of the Couloucoundis Prize. They also received First Honorable Mention at the 2011 SEAS Senior Design Competition.
Advisor: Dr. Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Their project is entitled the High-Fidelity Mannequin Chest for CPR Training. This device uses active control of pneumatic dampers to more accurately recreate the feel of a real human chest, while also providing force and position feedback to help users analyze their form as they learn CPR.
Rishi Agrawal, Tejus Goenka, Adhiraj Gupta, William Price and Misha Yerlick, winners of the Best Poster Prize.
Advisor: Dr. Mark Yim
Their project is entitled the In-Wheel Electric Motor for an Electric Vehicle.
Tom Castner, Dale Yates-Berg, and Todd Tewksbury, winners of the Gemmil Award.
Their project, Hybrid Rocket Motor, was designed and built to offer “simplicity, safety, good performance, comparatively cleaner environmental characteristics, and lower cost, particularly compared to solid propellant rockets.”
Anjay Kumar, Sudarshan Venu, and Jeremy Lautman, winners of the Tatnall Prize.
Their project, the Obese Patient Hospital Transport System aims to make a difference to the lives of healthcare workers, who are often at risk for injury when transporting patients.
Alikhan Sapargalieyev, Andrew Tam, and Reed Lerner, winners of the Couloucoundis prize.
Their project, the Towne Hall Clock, was created to learn more about several aspects of mechanics, including mechanical power transmission, especially gearing; and to advance knowledge of control and mechatronics in a challenging and unconventional setting.
Davesh Shah and Michael Shomin, winners of the Couloucoundis prize.
Their project, the ROMPER Educational Robo-Kit, was developed to provide a robotics kit for educational purposes. A partnership was developed with the Free Library of Philadelphia to implement an innovative robot featuring omni-directional drive, an arm manipulator, as well as modular circuitry.
Alex Berger, Zach Zwicker, Jamie Greenberg, and David Dahl, winners of the Best Poster Prize.
Their project is entitled the Highest Strength-to-Weight Aircraft (SAE).
Jonathan Bohren and Alexander Rattner, winners of the Gemmil Award.
Their project, the FatPoodle foot controller (bottom right in the photo), is a four-degrees-of-freedom adjustable device that is used like a computer mouse.
Carolyn Fu and Vinny Kumar, winners of the Tatnall Prize.
Their project, the Electronics Free Gait Automation is a design for a purely mechanical, unpowered system for automating walking that can be used in above-the- knee prostheses, orthoses, and exoskeletons.
Kate Chovanetz, Matthew MacMillan and Travis VanSchoyck, winners of the Couloucoundis prize.
Their project, the Rapidly Orienting Green Eyed Robot, better known as R.O.G.E.R., was created to promote human-robot interaction. With a set of cameras located in the eyes, ROGER has the ability to track human faces and respond to different actions by displaying various emotions.
Elyse Newman and Francesca Lattanzio, winners of the Gemmil Award.
Their project, TRASH-E, is a smart trash can that automatically sorts recyclables. This allows for a single receptacle that promotes green waste disposal, even taking into account human error and the lack of a separate recycling bin.
Warren Jackson, winner of the Tatnall Prize.
His project, the Radiosonde Recovery, is a robot that determines a safe landing spot for a radiosonde (used in weather detection) and adjusts the parachute in such a way as to steer it there. This project also won the school-wide Senior Design Competition for 2008.
Esteban Argudo, Brian Cohen, Matthew Ford and Kimberly Gallant and Patricia Leskiw, winners of the Couloucoundis prize.
The project designed by Argudo, Cohen, Ford and Gallant is the One Wheel Human Transporter.
The Project Designed by Leskiw is the Human Heat Driven Thermoelectric Generator, a vest worn that generates electricity through the body heat of the wearer.
Peter Brueckner, Kristen Condello, Michael Dugan and William Jelliffe, winners of the Gemmil Award.
Their project was named Ravi-Bot, and is an autonomous robotic sitar that can improvise music in the classical Hindustani style. The name is derived from the world’s most famous sitar player, Ravir Shankar. Ravi-bot was also featured in Artbots, an exhibit at the Esther Klein Art Gallery. This project also won first prize in the school-wide Penn Engineering Design competition.
Erik Trautman, winner of the Tatnall Prize.
His project was Robotic Lighting.
Wy-Men Loh, winner of the Couloucoundis prize.
This project was named Chassis Design for Battery Electric Vehicle.