Practical engineering cornerstones are valued


A bionic hand designed and built by Alyson Schwartz (left), Jonathan Rosas-Sanchez (right), Daniel Angulo and Philip Varkey gives a Lopes Up at Monday’s Engineering Capstone Showcase.

Story of Lana Sweeten-Shults
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk

Grand Canyon University students weren’t the only ones working around the engineering building’s courtyard on Monday. So was a bit of ingenuity enclosed in an aluminum cube that moved up and down in the open space of the yard.

The mission this robot chose to take on: transporting nails, screws and other items autonomously from one part of a warehouse to another, as requested by GCU’s industry partner, Benchmark Electronics .

“We’ve been working on it for nine months to deliver a prototype to Benchmark,” Jacob Crittenden says of his team of electrical and mechanical engineering students under the mentorship of a biomechanical engineering professor Dr. Jeff Labelle.

Benchmark requested that the base of the robot weigh less than 40 pounds, so it is made of a lightweight but sturdy aluminum. The team, which also includes Caleb Rye, Tyler Luzar and Trang Phamcontrol the robot with a game controller, but the idea is to eventually use a camera system, which would be the next phase of the project possibly tackled by a future synthesis group.

Tyler Luzar demonstrates his team’s Benchmark robotic chassis, a prototype robot that will deliver items from one part of a warehouse to another.

“Going forward, they want to be able to put things on it, so it needs to be able to support the different weights,” added Crittenden, senior electrical engineer and incoming engineer for GE Aviation Systems.

The students also withstood the weight of the world, or so it seemed, as they spent the last two semesters designing and building their capstone projects – final projects designed to collect all the knowledge students have acquired during their four-year university. careers, transforming theory into flashing, working, spinning devices.

The students presented more than 30 of these projects on Monday during the Engineering Capstone Showcase, presented by the College of Science, Engineering and Technology and Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships (see a slideshow here). The event, which returned after two years of presenting remotely due to the pandemic, featured everything from the Benchmark warehouse robot to elbow and ankle braces, high-precision fluid printers, automated greenhouses and a drone capable of collecting and testing water samples.

“I’m so proud of all our students and to come back after – it’s been two years. To NOT have had this face-to-face presentation of capstone projects and seeing the students, their professionalism in presenting all that they have learned, is a proud moment,” said the Associate Dean of the CSET engineering. Dr. Janet Brelin Fornari.

Cameron Bean, (right) explains the operation of his team’s low-cost biaxial stretching bioreactor to Vice Dean of Engineering, Dr. Richard Mulski (left).

The Engineering Capstone Showcase not only brings together student projects, but also gives them the opportunity to work in teams and sharpen their presentation skills.

This also puts them ahead of industry professionals. Brelin Fornari said about 20% of projects are submitted by industry and non-profit organizations, while students submit other projects in their engineering economics and project management course ( ESG-395).

Recruiter/Human Resources Recruiter Jackie Tautimez of Prime Solutions Group, which also attended the recent Technology Capstone Showcase, said, “We have five interns and are looking for entry-level software engineers in the coming months. We are looking to grow our business by 15 more people by the end of the year,” she said. Some of these people may well be GCU graduates. “Since 2020, we have hired a lot at GCU.”

Another team that tackled an industry dilemma was the Shamrock Foods Co. Quality Vision Reject System team.

Currently, Shamrock manually checks containers, such as milk bottles. The company looks for defects in expiration coding, bottle labeling and bottle sleeving. The company challenged the students to create an automated system.

Hannah Van Leeuwen (center) explains how her team’s Shamrock Foods Co. Quality Vision Rejection System works. The system is designed to check containers for defects in bottle labeling, bottle sleeving, etc.

“They wanted it to be 98% or better accurate to improve their own system,” said Hannah Van Leeuwena mechanical engineering senior who will soon begin her first post-graduate job with Tempe-based KW Mission Critical Engineering.

The team’s system takes a picture of a container after it passes an optical sensor. If the labels, caps, expiration date, and everything else look good, the system won’t engage. If something goes wrong, a message is sent to a solenoid, which tells the system to run the bottle off the production line.

“We want to make sure that thing (the container) doesn’t fly across the room, which was one of the reasons we dropped PSI,” Van Leeuwen said.

The biggest challenge for the team, supervised by a professor of biomedical engineering Dr. David Kwartowitz, was the constraints of its budget. The $3,000 camera system consumed much of the band’s budget.

“At one point, the PCB (printed circuit board) fried our optical sensors, and at that point, with time constraints, we couldn’t quite get it to work. I wish we had gone ahead and put down a working breadboard, an integrated breadboard, with the optical sensor aside, just in case…” said Van Leeuwen, whose teammates also included Kyle Kaufman, Vanessa Castillo Ramirez and Jake Thorton.

Electrical engineering technology student Blake Wellswith team members Glen Nolan and Isaac Wells, has created an automated greenhouse that uses sensors to regulate pH levels and the amount of nutrients for plants. The upright greenhouse, which uses an ebb and flow system, also includes pumps to pump water and feed the plants.

Blake Wells explains his team’s automated greenhouse.

“Ideally, for the user, it’s all set and forgotten, you don’t have to worry about anything,” said Blake, whose team was mentored by an engineering professor. Dina Higgins. “It’s really for people who can’t get gardening space outside or aren’t very good at gardening. They can just track a few things online and then have fresh fruits and vegetables.

A few teams have worked on duck decoy systems for hunters.

The Duck Decoy 1 team created an automated system to maintain realistic movement in floating lures with just the press of a button. Many hunters work these lures manually.

Up to three lines can be fired by the system, which moves the ducks back and forth and gives them a realistic swimming motion to attract waterfowl.

Carly Schwulst and Jack Jacobson (left to right) show off their team’s remote-controlled Duck Decoy Jerk Rig.

Higher Mechanical Engineering Carly Schwulst work with Juan Carlos Estrella, Jacob Hatfield, Jacqueline Jacobson and Armando Yanez on the project, under the direction of professor Luciano Albuquerque. Schwulst said she learned how much these projects were about people ultimately.

“We were able to get a lot of customer feedback to learn more about what hunters want from this product,” she said: a hands-free option that’s economical, easy to carry, lightweight, and has more lines. decoys to attract more ducks.

Several other teams have created self-tensioning child safety seats, such as one for a rear-facing seat.

“We wanted to eliminate the manual process of attaching a car seat to a car,” said a biomedical engineering student. Judit Vargasmember of a team that also included Alonso Carazo, Job Potts and David Ybarrawho were all supervised by Professor Craig Price. “I know a lot of grandparents said it was very difficult for them to add strength because they might have arthritis or other issues.”

Nathanial Wright (center) demonstrates his team’s self-tensioning child seat.

The biggest challenge for the team was getting their materials on time: “That created a lot of delays in our design work,” she said.

Another team has designed an electronic automatic ankle brace that provides a more personalized fit compared to ankle band or regular ankle braces.

The original idea would have taken tens of thousands of volts to come to fruition, “and it’s not safe for anyone to use, so we kind of had to meet in the middle with some form of electronic validation of a ankle brace,” said Biomedical Engineering. senior softball pitcher and GCU ryan dehart.

The brace is designed much like a standard ankle brace with a compression sleeve, stirrup, and cross bands, but what makes it different is that the students built pressure centers into the band for comfort. help get the right amount of pressure to support the ankle. It is made of an 80-20 nylon/spandex blend, a material already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for biomedical use.

“We want to make sure it’s safe on the skin, it’s biocompatible,” his teammate said. Stevie Morales.

“Overall, it’s supposed to help optimize rehabilitation and recovery,” said Denhart, who also worked on the device with his teammates. Noah Fox and Thaddee Kunce with guidance from an engineering professor Emmy Tomforde.

Ask what was the most fun for the team in completing this project, Morales said it went beyond designing something on a computer screen.

“In other courses, it’s theoretical – ‘Oh, just create a 3D model.’ I don’t really like doing that,” said Morales, who added that the teams received funding from GCU to create their projects.

“Using the money to buy things feels like something real,” Denhart said. “It sounds a lot like what our future will be like as engineers.”

His team was able to build the ankle brace for less than $700.

The other fun part, Denhart added: “It’s a lot of ups and downs, but in the end I think it was just fun to finish a project from start to finish – to have something that we are proud to speak.”

GCU Senior Editor Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.


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