Engineering’s Senior Design Projects

Submitted by Nina M. Riccio on June 14, 2012

University President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., takes a ride on the human-powered vehicle created by seniors Musruk Saddique (center) and George Romania (right). Teammate John Weichenrieder is not pictured.

The Senior Design Projects course is a transformative experience for engineering students, says Dr. Evangelos Hadjimichael, professor of physics in the School of Engineering. It assists in transitioning them from students to professional engineers, and acclimates them to the requirements and constraints of good engineering design as practiced by professionals in industry. For this reason, the Senior Design Project course is a crucial aspect of engineering curricula.

“Working on this project really tested the limits of what I learned at Fairfield,” said Mechanical Engineering student John Weichenrieder ’12, a member of the engineering team that worked on the Human Powered Vehicle for its Senior Design Project. The vehicle was the result of a multi-year effort, he added, “and needed our dedication and time during one of the busiest semesters of our lives.”

With partners George Romania and Musruk Siddique, he plans to enter the vehicle in the ASME HPVC 2013 Spring Competition and outperform the previous design.

“Time management and stressful conditions were nothing new to us, but the experiences learned from our past semesters made the juggling act so easy that it became second nature to us,” Weichenrieder added.

The Senior Design Project is a two-semester course in which the students work in interdisciplinary teams with a faculty mentor. The culmination of the course is the presentation of the Senior Design Project, a seminal event that showcases the collaboration among students who have spent the year designing, creating and implementing their research project. Students use knowledge learned in prior courses and apply them to problems they will face in actual industrial or research environments.  This year’s projects included an automated microplate workcell to provide repeatable sample preparation in a biology or chemistry lab, an automated syringe-filling machine sponsored by the Dymax Corporation, and a survivor locator light sponsored by Hoffmann Engineering Corps., to be used in search and rescue efforts. Working with engineers from Sikorsky Aircraft, one group of students designed a tail bumper for the S-92 commercial helicopter to guard against damage during unconventional landings. Another group worked in conjunction with the University’s

Winners of the Dean’s Award for their light –sport aircraft. From left, Kevin Richard, faculty mentor Dr. Ryan Munden, Neil Rodrigues, John Burke, and Clare McManus.

Department of Residential Life to create a software program to automate residence selection, a process that is very labor-intensive when done manually.

Students, dressed in business attire, presented and discussed their work with peers, faculty, the dean andmembers of the SOE Board of Advisors in May.


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