Engineering projects showcase solutions for space, health

A car powered and stopped by chemical reactions, a smartphone case that can be used to perform blood tests and a mount to hold a lens in space are among the 41 innovative projects that will be on display during the 14th annual Engineering Design Expo from 1-3 p.m. Friday, April 29, at Trine University.

The Allen School of Engineering and Technology will host the expo, with senior design projects on display throughout the hallways of Fawick Hall and the Bock Center.

Senior engineering students have worked in teams to produce a design project using their knowledge in a specific area, such as biomedical, bioprocess, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental or mechanical engineering or design engineering technology.

The optic mount resulted from a collaboration between Innovation One and Harris Corporation. The student group was tasked with designing a mount that could withstand both the vibration of being launched into space and the temperature change between Earth and space without distorting or damaging a lens. Harris Corporation builds instruments used on environmental satellites and exposes the instruments to the harsh conditions of launch and space at its Fort Wayne facility. Harris employees provided guidance on the engineering project to the students.

“This project was very challenging,” said senior Drew Rowe. “Even in the last few weeks we were in constant communication with our sponsor trying to discuss concepts."

The car was entered in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Chem-E-Car competition on April 16 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The goal of the project was to design a car that would stop and start by chemical reactions and could travel 15 to 30 meters and carry anywhere between 0 and 500 milliliters of water. One hour before the competition, the distance requirement was set at 19.5 meters and the load requirement of 195 grams was given.

The Trine car, powered by a magnesium air battery and stopped by an iodine clock reaction, finished 1 meter away from the target, placing fifth and qualifying for national competition.

“We didn’t really have a pre-existing car coming into this,” said senior Michael Greenwell. “We kind of just started from scratch and created our own car.”

A group of nine seniors worked on the SmartMed Case, a smartphone case in development that would allow people to perform a variety of medical tests in their own home.

This year, the group worked on separating blood components for the different tests, designing a case to fit on an iPhone and developing an app that would allow results to be read on the phone. By the time of the Expo, the group had a working device that separated white and red blood cells and counted the red blood cells.

“The goal is to take this device and be able to diagnose medical conditions that are going on with a patient with real-time results,” said Paul Carlquist, a team member and biomedical engineering major.

“A lot of the development we’ve been doing is stuff that’s never been done before,” said Sarah Fowler, mechanical engineering major. We did a lot of research at the beginning of the year to kind of see what exactly we were trying to accomplish, what has been done before and what we can do to improve on the things that have been done before. There’s research that’s been done, but no one has ever done what we’re doing right now.”

Industrial partners are: Advantage Driveline; Airframe Components by Williams, Inc.; AISC; Albion Department of Parks and Recreation, Casey Myers; Aluminum Alliance Products, Inc.; Benteler Automotive; Burr-Oak Tool; C.E. Electronics, Inc.; City of Decatur Engineering and Stormwater Department, Nate Rumschlag; DeKalb Central Foundation, Inc., John McDermott; DeKalb High School; Finnerman Custom Services; Flare Inc.; Foundry Educational Foundation; HandHeld Medical Technologies, LLC; Harris Corporation Space and Intelligence Systems; Holland Custom Signs; Hudson Aquatic Systems, LLC; Hydra-Gear; Indiana Fluid Power; Indiana Space Grant Consortium; Lake Minifenokee Homeowners Association; Metal Technologies; Naval Surface Warfare Center — Crane Division; Parker; Plastifoam Company; ProFab, Jay Stevens; RRFabwerks; S & T Auto Body Inc.; SDI-LaFarga; Shell; Sherwin Williams; Tek-Hackett; Tech Defenders; TK Steel, Inc; and Vestil Manufacturing.