AMHERST, Mass. – Fifteen teams of mechanical and industrial engineering seniors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will demonstrate prototypes of their inventions on Wednesday, May 1 from 5:30-8 p.m. in the ELab II atrium. Devices to be displayed include all-terrain crutches, an assistive walker for children, an automatic rocking crib, an ergonomic shopping cart and a rugged transport for the disabled.
Other projects being demonstrated include a wind turbine blade made of environmentally friendly composite fibers, an assembly line station for a new mechanical power-transmission product and a collapsible, multi-purpose tower for U.S. Army basecamps.
The event is part of a course called “MIE 495 Senior Design Project,” taught by professor Sundar Krishnamurty. The course demands that students use the knowledge and skills they have developed during their undergraduate education to design a utilitarian product, build a prototype, summarize the project with a poster and make a verbal presentation to judges.
Some of the projects are being sponsored by private companies and the U.S. Army to respond to issues that their own research and development units haven’t been able to resolve.
The Black Island Wind Turbine Company of Amherst is sponsoring a projectto correct toxicity and lack of recyclability in blade making. As the company has explained, “More sustainable technologies are needed—and small wind-turbine blade-making is the perfect test bed to investigate those technologies—at reasonable cost and logistics.” Two teams of students are tackling this issue.
In another project, the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, wants students to investigate, design, analyze and build a prototype of a quickly deployable, multi-purpose tower for 150-person, expeditionary basecamps. They need a portable tower that can be quickly assembled or broken down, is lightweight, can be stored in a small pack, is at least 20-feet tall when assembled, can support a 30-pound load at the top, and can withstand steady winds of 50 mph and gusts of 65 mph.