ME 755-756 - Senior Design Project

A two-semester senior design project course (ME 755-756 or TECH 797) must be completed by the end of the senior year by all undergraduates who are planning to receive their bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. The purpose of this requirement is to allow every ME student to gain experience in a substantial design or experimental research project.

Partial list of some of the most popular senior projects:

UNH Aerocats

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) AeroCats team designed a remote controlled aircraft powered by an internal combustion engine for participation in the SAE Aero East competition in Florida. The aircraft was designed to accurately drop a 3 pound payload from 100 feet onto a given target aided by live video feed from the plane to the ground. The plane has a wingspan of nine feet and generates the lift needed to fly the plane with static cargo of at least 15 pounds and an expellable cargo of 3 pounds. The fuselage was designed to minimize drag while holding all electronics and cargo components securely. The airframe structure was made of balsa wood and wrapped in shrinkable polyester.  Fiber glass was utilized at key joints and supports to enhance the ability of the plane to survive crashes. Multiple parts of the plane were duplicated to allow for a quick rebuild if the plane was damaged. The competition deliverables were a technical report, oral presentation, and flight. The AeroCats successfully flew the plane but missed the target. Subsequent flight attempts were unsuccessful but major competition knowledge was gained. This knowledge will be passed on to give next year’s team a leg up on the competition.


UNH Precision Racing

For the last 12 years, the University of New Hampshire has had a group of CEPS students design, manufacture and race an open wheel race car at a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition.  This competition consists of both static and dynamic events.  The static portion makes up approximately a third of the overall score, where the dynamic portion makes up the remaining two thirds.  The static portion includes a cost event, business presentation, and an overall design evaluation.  The dynamic events include an acceleration test, a figure eight, a one lap race, an endurance race, and a fuel efficiency test. / The team is made divided into subgroups; each responsible for selecting designs, and integrating them with the rest of the car.  The subgroups for the 2014-2015 UNH Precision Racing Team are frame, suspension, powertrain, aerodynamics, controls, and electronics.  The overall designs of these subgroups include a lightweight, reliable and competitive car.  At the beginning of the year, the team set two overall goals:  finish the endurance portion of the competition, and finish the highest in school history.  View Website...



Mini Baja SAE

The UNH Baja SAE team is a group of Mechanical Engineering students tasked with the design and construction of a one-man off-road vehicle for competition hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The team is split into four groups: frame, suspension, controls and drivetrain in order to facilitate design such that all aspects are covered in a timely manner and with appropriate analysis. The students are involved in the entire span of the project, from fundraising and design to the construction and competition. Each group must work alongside the others in order to create a cohesive final design that is not only able to be driven, but complies with a list of rules set forth by the SAE. During the design process, emphasis is put on creating a vehicle with low cost and ease of manufacture, as these are judged as strongly in competition as the vehicle’s performance. Upon completion of the vehicle, the team travels to competition to compete with other institutions worldwide in a series of static events such as: design inspection and sales pitch, and dynamic events such as: hill climb, acceleration, maneuverability, suspension and endurance.


NASA Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) Mission Quadsat Generation D

QuadSat D aims to increase the capabilities of the Advanced Controls Lab at the University of New Hampshire by providing an experimental test bed for spacecraft control algorithm development to support research for missions such as the NASA MMS Mission. Improving upon earlier versions of the TableSat projects, this test bed is a flying quadcopter with 6 degrees of freedom. These include pitch, roll, and yaw, also known as attitude, and movement in the X, Y, and Z directions, also known as translation. To stabilize the quadcopter in flight, a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller was developed to control Z-translation, and a first order Sliding Mode Controller (SMC) was developed to control attitude. The use of SMC was an improvement upon previous versions. Because it is a nonlinear controller it is better able to control the nonlinear dynamics of the quadcopter. It is also inherently robust against system uncertainties. The feedback sensor for the SMC controller is an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Its magnetometer provides the necessary data to control yaw, and the accelerometer and gyroscope provide the data to control pitch and roll. 



The NASA Robotic Mining Competition challenges university teams to design, build, and test a mining robot that could function on the surface of Mars. An autonomous mining robot was designed and built to mine 10kg of regolith in 10 minutes, navigate an obstacle field, and return to base. The robot utilizes image recognition technology and a path optimization learning algorithm to navigate through a simulated Martian environment.  /      This is the fifth year that a UNH team (LunaCats) has competed in the mining competition. Design of the 2015 robot, Harvester, focused on weight reduction and mining optimization. This is the first year the team has built a fully autonomous robot. The LunaCats will travel to Kennedy Space Center in May, where Harvester will compete in a simulated Martian environment.


ET Navswarm

ET-NavSwarm’s mission is to design, build, and test 15 autonomous robots. These will serve as a testing platform for two graduate research algorithms: Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) and Celestial Navigation (CelNav). PSO is derived from the concept of swarm behavior found in nature (birds, bees, etc.). By communicating and using mathematical principles, the swarm can find the best/most of a given objective within a specified area. The swarm operates without a centralized leader to search for natural resources, signs of life, or items of interest. CelNav uses a planet’s gravity and light from the local star field to determine latitude, longitude, and heading in the absence of a planetary global positioning system (GPS).  / The robots are designed to traverse rugged terrain, climb 45 degree inclines, avoid obstacles, and collect data on position and elevation. To accomplish this, they were made to be water-resistant and have the longest possible run time (battery life). The robots’ sensors and electronics were selected to fulfill the requirements of each algorithm. As a proof of concept for NASA, ET-NavSwarm will perform a large-scale field test with these 15 robots, searching for the highest and lowest elevations.

Fire Fighting Robot

The goal of the Fire Fighting Robot project is to design an autonomous robot that will compete in Trinity College’s Fire Fighting Competition. This is a competitive project, hence many rules and regulations apply. Each robot is allowed three, five minute trials in which it must locate a candle in a mock home and extinguish it. A three layer oval design was selected where each layer contains specific elements so that everything is spaced neatly and easy to access. The motors selected for the robot are the Devantech EMG30 motors. These motors were chosen because they are small, lightweight, and can supply ample power for moving the robot. The firefighting robot utilizes three different sensors; range finders, white line sensors and flame sensors. A variety of sensor display configurations were generated and tested to optimize the design. The extinguisher system uses a 12V DC brushless fan in order to extinguish the flame. Once the robot enters a room and detects the flame, the robot will face itself towards the flame and power the fan. The Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) version 1.0.6 was implemented to write the motor control code. Various components were programmed separately and then integrated together including the motors, sensors and extinguisher system.

Pneumatic Ski/Snowboard Press

The goal of our project was to design and build a pneumatic press to be used in the production of high quality skis and snowboards. There were four core issues we addressed. This included a solid frame to withstand pressure forces, a pneumatic pressure source, a mold with the desired ski/board profile, and a controlled heat source capable of providing a uniform temperature distribution. A pneumatic approach was chosen due to component availability and simplicity. The design consists of two bladders that inflate when filled with pressurized air. This expansion compresses the ski/board against the mold. The mold was constructed using layers of medium density fiberboard, cut to the desired ski/snowboard profile. Beam theory calculations were conducted to estimate frame member deflections with respect to the press operating pressure. These results were then compared to a SolidWorks finite element analysis model to verify a degree of accuracy. The heat source decided upon consists of two heat blankets controlled by pulse-width modulation. This was implemented using a solid-state relay triggered by an Ardiuno micro-controller in conjunction with thermocouple feedback.