Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

JHU Department of Mechanical Engineering

Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate Programs
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Senior Design Projects

Each year, Mechanical Engineering seniors take a year-long design course taught by Laboratory Administrator Mike Johnson and Professor Greg Chirikjian, assisted by Senior Machine Shop Coordinator Eric Harden, the department's machinist. Students, working in groups of three or four, select small-scale engineering design problems suggested and funded by corporations, government, or non-profit agencies.

With funds provided by the sponsoring organization, the students must handle every aspect of the design process, from brainstorming possible solutions to preparing a budget, purchasing equipment, and putting together a final device or product. In the first semester, they present oral reports that describe how they settled on their final solution to the problem. At the end of the year, their final devices or products are presented and demonstrated in a special two-day series of presentations with industry representatives and ASME judges in attendance.

2005-2006 PROJECTS

(Alternating Wind Energy System for Optimizing Mechanical Efficiency)

Sponsor: Differential Dynamics, LLC

The objective of this project was to develop a way to modify a small, wind-driven generator, such as is used to provide electrical power and to charge up a battery onboard small pleasure boats.  The modification involved introducing to the power train a new and unique power transmission mechanism invented by the sponsor, to thus allow more efficient utilzation of the ever-varying wind power that is the input to the system.  This totally mechanical device is called the IVMC, standing for:  Infinitely Variable Motion Control.  A specialized version of the IVMC -- the IVT (Infinitely Variable Transmission) -- was used in Project AWESOME.  It provides the ability to smoothly output a constant RPM and torque, despite variations in the input to the system.  Project Designers Candace Brakewood, Giles Haysom, Michael Scheib, and Kwame Small created the means to provide a feedback-actuated power-transfer regulator for the IVT, which allowed for an increase in the useful wind-speed range, as well as a smoothing of the wind speed versus output power curve.

PROJECT ePOD  (electronic  Portable  Office  Desk)

Sponsor:  The Volunteers for Medical Engineering and the JHU Department of Biomedical Engineering

This VME project was initiated by the need to enhance the ability of a disabled person to continue to be able to tele-commute to her job.  Although plagued by an undiagnosed and progressive neuro-muscular condition, which greatly limited her stamina and ability and for moving, she has been able – albeit with growing difficulties -- to use her computer to perform her job.  But, the arrangement of the components in her computer system had caused her to reach and twist in ways that were becoming ever more deleterious to her health.  Thus, Team ePOD:  Boyang Li, Olivia Mao, and Eiline Yoon was charged with designing and building a new, easy-to-reach layout for her computer system, and to build, first, a stationary desk to be used adjacent to the hospital bed in the bedroom in her home where she does most of her work.  This desk allowed for easy access to her keyboard, to the ports on her computer and to a new printer-fax-scanner-copy machine.  A second desk, a portable unit, was also built to support a laptop computer.  This was to be used while the client was seated in her motorized, high-tech wheel chair in her living room.  She often has visitors coming to work with her, and thus this portable desk allowed her to easily interact with them.  It featured a built-in turntable that allowed the laptop to be spun around for viewing by all.

(Heavy  Instrumental  Tool  for  Impact  Testing)

Sponsor:  Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division

This team was asked by their sponsor to develop a Charpy Impact test machine that was capable of delivering up to 350 foot-pounds of energy to the specimen to be fractured.  The existing Charpy machine at the NSWC materials laboratory only had a capacity of 240 ft-lb., insufficient to test the newest, much tougher alloys the Navy wanted to investigate, hence the motivation for this project.  In addition, Team HIT IT was tasked with devising a means to automaticllay raise the very heavy mass that swings down to apply the fracturing load to the specimens.  This was accomplished by purchasing a used machine, adding weights to its striking mass, and then retrofitting a motorized chain drive to lift the now 78 pound weight.  A new dial gauge, which is needed to indicate the energy absorbed by the test specimen during fracture, also had to be created.  In addition, team members Omar Irizarry, Joe Lee, Ashley Schwarzmann, and James Wu developed a means to indicate the force created at the moment of impact of the mass with the specimen, and also developed a means to dynamically measure the propagation of the crack which is formed as the specimen is being fractured.


Sponsor:  National Federation of the Blind

Although last year’s Senior Design Project BPEN was not entirely successful in reaching all of its objectives, it showed sufficient promise to motivate the NFB to support this second effort to invent a new, lightweight, inexpensive means for typing Braille.  The objective of the NFB was to have a design that could be mass-produced inexpensively and then supplied to those in need, especially in third world countries where the level of Braille illiteracy is shockingly high due to the unreachable cost of existing Braille typing machines.  After numerous design iterations, and constant re-evaluations by the sponsor’s representatives, Team IBRAIL eventually devised a simple-to-use but operationally sophisticated hand-held unit that worked in conjunction with the existing plastic slates that are now used with a one-point stylus to slowly peck out Braille – one dot at a time.  By providing the ability to create up to all six dots in the Braille cell simultaneously, this new device offered the means to create Braille up to six times faster than before.  Product designers Emily Kumpel, Peter Lillehoj, Mark MacLeod, and Penny Robinson won this year's ASME Best Senior Project award.

PROJECT MISSILE (MIniaturized Solar Sensor for Improved TeLEmetry)

Sponsor: U. S. Army Research Laboratory

The need fulfilled by Team MISSILE: Ovi Chatterjee, Christopher Kovalchick, Kostas Sarafidis, and Daniel Touchette was to develop a means to allow the USARL to study projectile trajectories on much smaller warhead systems than they are now able to test.  The requirements for this project asked for a rugged device that was half the size of the existing sun sensors that are now being used.  Other requested improvements included achieving a design with less parts and an easier to assemble method, and at less cost.  The new sensor managed to reduce the number of parts from 12 to only seven, and used a simplified top-down method for assembly.  Testing of a half-scale mock-up showed that this new design, which features a neutral density filter element to control the amount of light reaching the photocell – instead of the existing set of difficult-to-install and costly obstructing pillars -- was able to output signals that mimicked those required for this application.

PROJECT MRMAST (Mission  Reconfigurable  Mast  for  Antenna  and  Sensor  Testing)

Sponsor:  Lockheed Martin Corporation

Although the name of this project suggests yet another follow-up to some previous ship-borne mast projects for LMC, the mission of this year’s Team MRMAST: Lauren Denk, Ondrej Juhasz, Jon Kracht, and Peter Kuhn was very different.  Their mast, which will be used at sea aboard an experimental ship called the Sea Slice, has the job of supporting numerous instruments such as radar units, other sensors, and antennas, which at times would be under evaluation by the Navy.  The problem to be solved was to find a way to avoid having to interrupt a sea trial and return (at great expense) to the Navy shipyard in San Diego each time even a small change or repair was needed with one of those instruments, perched 35 feet above the deck.  This student design team designed and built a full-scale, simple but very rugged mast system, fully-equipped to be installed on the Sea Slice. It consisted of two main vertical members affixed to the face of the ship’s deckhouse, with a movable carriage carrying the instruments that could easily be moved up and down since it was powered by cables from a seaworthy hoist. Thus, even at sea the instruments could be brought down to deck level and worked on by the ship’s crew.

PROJECT RADAR (Real-Time  Antenna  Deflection  Analysis  &  Readings)

Sponsor: Northrop Grumman Corporation

The challenge presented to Team RADAR:  Ryan Chapman, Tristan Flanzer, David Helmer, and Byong Hwang was to develop a methodology for allowing corrections to be made to radar signals when a large, ship-borne antenna array suffers mechanical distortions due to extreme ship’s motions in heavy seas.  The approach suggested by NGC, and successfully carried out by this team, was first to create a finite-element model (FEM) of a scaled-down portion of the full antenna array. The full-sized phased array antenna array was 12 by 12 feet, and contained 36 individual radar subarrays connected together in a 6 by 6 matrix.  The FEM and physical model created under this project had a 3 by 3 subarray matrix and was 3 by 3 feet in size.  Comparisons were then made between the vibrational shapes predicted by the FEM and the actual shapes, measured with accelerometers, when the physical model was shaken in a special test set up.  Good agreement was seen between the two.   NGC will now take these results and feed them into software they are developing to make the needed compensations to the radar signals for the full-scale system.

TAGGing  AErial  Remote  System)

Sponsor:  JHU Applied Physics Laboratory

It is an unfortunate fact that our country must be ever more creative in its battles against crime and terrorism.  One such tool now under development is a means to mark suspect vehicles (cars, ships) by using a remotely-piloted unmanned air-vehicle (RPV).  Team TAGGERS:  Ashwini Anjanappa, Reuben Brewer, Mark Porto, and Benjamin Soto was tasked to create the first phase of this developing program, now ongoing at the JHU APL.  This student team assembled a small, unmanned helicopter from a hobby kit, and then attempted to retrofit it with the equipment needed to aim and shoot a paint ball gun at the target.  An ultra-small video camera and a range finder complemented this part of the system.  A special gimbal was designed and built that allowed the two remotely-controlled degrees of motion needed for aiming the gun.  Tests were run to determine the best place to strike a car and cause minimal noise and vehicle damage – it was determined to be the trunk area.  The sponsor will now take this system and proceed to introduce the desired fully automated operation on another RPV.

Check out the 2009-2010 PROJECTS

Check out the 2008-2009 PROJECTS

Check out the 2007-2008 PROJECTS

Check out the 2006-2007 PROJECTS

Check out the 2004-2005 PROJECTS

Check out the 2003-2004 PROJECTS