Engineering Students at UMass Amherst Show off Fascinating Projects for Capstone Course on April 30

April 28, 2014

Contact: Daniel J. Fitzgibbons 413/545-0444

Jenna Marquard
Sundar Krishnamurty

AMHERST, Mass. – Twenty-three teams of seniors from the mechanical and industrial engineering department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will demonstrate the prototypes of their useful and inventive designs on Wednesday, April 30 from 5:30-8 p.m. in the Gunness Student Center of Marcus Hall. Projects from mechanical engineering students include a wax-cleaning device for the Yankee Candle Company and two custom-built assistive devices for local senior citizens. One distinctive industrial engineering project is a new system to help health care workers at Baystate Medical Center generate more complete and accurate lists of patient medications.

The event is part of the two capstone senior design courses taught by professors Sundar Krishnamurty and Jenna Marquard. The courses demand that students use all the knowledge and skills they have developed during their undergraduate education and apply them to resolving topical problems of the day. Mechanical engineering students must design a utilitarian product, build a prototype, summarize the project with a poster, and make a verbal presentation to judges. Industrial engineering students work with a company liaison to identify problems or areas of concern within the business and use their analytical skills to provide recommendations on how to solve those problems.

One of the mechanical engineering projects is sponsored by Yankee Candle Company to develop a system for cleaning the excess wax off of their wick-centering devices (WCDs). The cleaning system will be capable of performing automated batch runs used to clean multiple WCDs at once, and its use will reduce the waste of the WCDs and decrease the number of cases of wax cross-contamination.

Two teams are working on collaborative mechanical engineering and nursing projects, which are sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The mechanical engineering students on these projects collaborated with nursing students to design, develop, and custom-build assistive devices for two elderly clients in the pioneer valley. One project focuses on a novel lift system to assist an elderly client, who resides in an independent-living residence, rise from the ground to a standing position. The second team is designing specialized equipment to assist an aging client with his exercise routine. Both teams are using their mechanical engineering expertise to create reliable, effective, innovative, assistive-device systems in collaboration with nursing students to identify the human, safety and medical concerns associated with their products.

In another project, industrial engineering students are working with pharmacists, nurses, and physicians at Baystate Medical Center to understand how to create a complete and accurate list of a patient’s medications, known as medication reconciliation. Not doing this process, or not doing it sufficiently, can result in patient harm or death. The students are providing recommendations to Baystate about possible points of failure in this process and strategies for improving it.

Other mechanical engineering students will present prototypes of inventions that include a solar panel snow removal system, a delicatessen glove-donning machine, a kayak stabilizer, a hi-hat locking system, a residential snow melter, and an integrated hood cooling system. Industrial engineering students will also present work from collaborative projects with Berry Plastics, ERS energy consultants and ISO New England.

Other projects being demonstrated include a crutch cup holder, a coffee claw, an aftermarket personal watercraft brake, a slackline linear ascension control device, a solar photovoltaic supply chain and technology cost analysis, a strategy for metering building energy usage that provides accurate data while minimizing costs, models to help intensive care unit physicians better predict negative patient outcomes, and strategies to reduce product defects at a local plastics company.