By guest contributor David Drucker / FIU News
At the College of Engineering and Computing’s Senior Design Showcase, rising stars of engineering harnessed their creativity and technical prowess to present solutions to societal challenges.
The showcase, held on 2 December, was the culmination of months of work. Professors and companies provide ideas for projects, then students use their critical thinking skills under the guidance of faculty members to bring potential solutions to life. Most students developed their projects to the point where they could pitch them to a company.
“I think it’s great that FIU hosts the showcase so that everyone can have an opportunity to showcase their passion and hard work. It’s a great way for the public to see it as well,” said David Trujillo, a senior environmental engineering said the chief.
Here are four projects from the showcase that give an indication of the creativity on display.
Do skateboards need to be re-engineered? That’s the challenge mechanical engineering seniors Daniel Figueroa, Alessandro Gianforcaro, Yousef Alcandari, Carlos Hernandez Colucci and Herman Flores took on for Senior Showcase.
The project began when a professor showed students a video of a skateboarder complaining of problems with his board. Specifically, skateboarders complained that the wear and tear on the board from trucks always caused the board to bend to one side where the wheels meet the board.
The students designed an add-on clip for trucks that would eliminate this rotation problem. He also made a board out of fiberglass, which is stronger than most normal boards and does not break in half when damaged, which is important for safety.
“If the trucks come loose, the movement will only be up and down, not side to side like most boards. And since someone will be on top of the board, they won’t really feel the movement,” Gianforcaro said.
An important element of many surgical procedures, anesthesia needs to be administered at specific concentrations to maintain sedation of the patient. Seniors Emily Flores, Noble Amadi, Danielle Levy, Thais Tivally and Daniela Ugalde have designed a device that meets the modern-day demand for an accessible, low-cost sensor to ensure patient and personnel safety. Bio-MEMS and Microsystems sponsored the project.
For the research, the students reproduced a commercial fuel cell, a power device used in many cars, that was able to detect isoflurane, a type of anesthesia. The micro fuel cell was integrated into a wearable device and would audibly alert when a patient is outside the range of safe sedation. The project won the top prize in Biomedical Engineering and first place for best presentation. Flores won the Standard of Leadership Award for being the top project leader at the showcase.
“My team has been online for most of our four years due to Covid. This project was our best opportunity to do hands-on engineering work, and I think what we accomplished says a lot,” Flores said.
Can a missile travel faster if its tip is shaped differently? This was the focus of mechanical engineering seniors Esteban Guarnizo, Michael Harris, Riley Smith and Edgar Viamontes in their project. The students researched whether a missile with a star-shaped tip or nose cone would outperform today’s state-of-the-art missiles.
In the process, the team of FIU seniors delved into research projects carried out in the 60s and 70s in the Soviet Union regarding the aerodynamic effects of fins on missiles. The team dug through research projects translated from Russian as they aimed to combine Soviet-era research with cutting-edge art designs.
They conducted simulation tests with hundreds of designs and found success in a few key areas, but are still looking to see how the missile will be tested at higher speeds. They tested the missile at Mach 2, twice the speed of sound. They’d like to test it at Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
“This project was more challenging than what I had done in my undergraduate because it was a free-form open project. There was no guide, no clear path to follow. Trying to work on something that tried to push the boundaries of standard aerodynamic design was tough, but exciting,” said Guarnizzo.
Some chemicals used in manufacturing, packaging and other industries that end up in everyday products, called Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are very resistant to degradation, making them ‘forever’. Got the nickname ‘chemical’ for this. Many water treatment plants are not yet capable of removing these chemicals.
Research has indicated that PFAS can bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife and there are potential links that PFAS contribute to fertility, testicular and kidney cancer and developmental effects on unborn children, said Trujillo, a member of the project. He and his group worked on the design of a water treatment process that could remove these substances from the water.
Using a treatment method called ion exchange, the team created a design that would use a special resin to remove chemicals from the water. With the proposed design, the treatment process will be able to reduce the concentration of the chemical to a limit of 10ppt, which is 83 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS, which is non-detectable for the specified water parameters. . The group was composed of Trujillo, Ricardo Martínez, Yissel Marcos Navarro, Patricia Hernandez, Kenny Rivera, Melanie Dorta, Verónica Alemán and Rashed Allezzi.
The Environmental Protection Agency is working on regulations surrounding these chemicals.
“In the real world, few places do this. So it was intimidating at first. But after getting a lot of guidance from professors, plant operators and vendors, and reading industry literature, we were able to do it,” Trujillo said. Said.
This story was first published by FIU News here and is republished with permission.