The Senior Capstone Design Program in Mechanical Engineering builds on our lab-based, hands-on curriculum to provide students with “their first job,” a project supplied by companies and entrepreneurs. These clients benefit from having a student team address their dynamic goals and tight budgets, and provide a fresh perspective.
Our Senior Capstone Design teams are formed based on student background, interests, and strengths. Student teams are advised by an eight-person advisory team, the members of which are specially selected for their technical expertise and for their proven ability to guide students through solving real-world, applied problems.
The projects span two semesters, beginning with the development of a project plan, whereby students define end-user needs, client needs, design objectives and constraints, and metrics for success. Proceeding through concept generation and selection, and then through the system- and component-level design stages, each team ultimately produces a working prototype that is tested and refined to meet the project objectives. Projects commence in late August and early January.
Examples of 2013 Projects View all 2013 Projects
Lightweight Swing Gate
Thomas Schmidt, Eric Lindholm, Katherine Schattl, Caleb Carlson, and Andy Wybo, Mechanical Engineering
Charles Van Karsen
Students must design, engineer, build, and test a new lightweight swing gate for 25 percent mass reduction and insertion into the current Jeep Wrangler. The new design has to uphold standard structural and durability requirements while being able to be manufactured.
Caterpillar Extendable Boom
Andrea Klumpp, Gareth Tomlinson, Robert Jane, Andrew Kremkow, and Luka Stupar, Mechanical Engineering
Caterpillar, Kent Smith
Our team is developing a variable-length boom for a Caterpillar Pipelayer. This boom will have the ability to extend from 24 to 28 feet. The transition from the 24- to the 28-foot length position is performed through the rotation of extension bars that are attached to the boom end. These extension bars are attached to a cross beam while at the 24-foot position and are detached from the cross beam to extend to the 28-foot position.
Rail Car Coupler
Alyssa Sahr, Materials Science and Engineering; Francis Bremmer, Yidan Lou, and Justin Tumberg, Mechanical Engineering; Kyle Pepin, Civil Engineering
Paul van Susante
NuRail Center and Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program
The mechanism used to link rail cars in the heavy freight rail industry is known as a coupler. The coupler has not been significantly redesigned since the original patent in 1873. The current coupler can have mechanical failure during use. The knuckle of the coupler fractures, causing costly delays when the cars detach. The team has studied coupler performance, and designed and tested a prototype to increase the fatigue life of the knuckle.
Jaipur Foot Improvements
Miriam Paquet and Reid Barber, Mechanical Engineering; Stephanie Boomgaard, Ben Cottrill, and Kevin Peterson, Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Nina Mahmoudian
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering
The Jaipur foot was developed to provide an
amputee in India with a simple, practical, and lowcost
prosthetic that is compatible with an active
and culturally appropriate lifestyle. In 2011, a design
team successfully made improvements to the
Jaipur foot to reduce its weight. The new objective
was to improve compatibility of materials with
the manufacturing process, while maintaining the
affordability and functionality of the foot. The project
culminated with a trip to India to meet with Dr. Anil
Jain and observe patient use of the prosthetic.
Nexteer Rack Bearing Improvement
Stewart Eddy, Chadwick Kern, Shawn Lesko, and Matthew Verbiscus, Mechanical Engineering
Charles Van Karsen and Gordon Parker
The specific causes of a steering column rattle are unknown, so Nexteer needs an inexpensive way to locate and eliminate any rattle within the system. We have been tasked to create an analytical model and design a prototype of a conventional rack-andpinion power-steering system. We will construct a computer model to locate the rattle and then validate the results of the model by constructing a prototype.
Low-Cost Prosthetic Knee
Robert Pizzey, David Weyland, and Ruth Eischer, Biomedical Engineering; James Hartel, Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Our team is redesigning and evaluating a costoptimized prosthetic knee joint created by a previous Senior Design team. The joint must be manufactured in India with local materials and be affordable for the hospital and patients. We have settled on a four-bar linkage design with a variable friction element to provide adjustable resistance to the user.