What do baby monitors, radio-controlled vehicles and nuclear disasters have in common? If you need to build a small robot to inspect a simulated damaged nuclear reactor like post-tsunami Fukashima, you might use a baby monitor to give you telepresence, and you might use RC vehicle parts to avoid obstacles so you can accomplish the emergency tasks humans couldn’t do safely: report on pressure gauge readings, start a cooling pump and retrieve a radiation sensor.
WKU’s Mechanical Engineering Junior Design class did exactly that this weekend, sending four different robots into the remote “disaster area” and completing all four tasks in record times. WKU teams placed first, second, fifth and eighth in the Student Design Competition at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers District F Student Professional Development Conference at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on April 6.
Twenty-eight teams from 19 universities competed including Alabama, South Alabama, South Florida, East Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Florida, Central Florida, FIU, FAMU-FSU, Florida Atlantic, Tennessee Tech, New Orleans, Kentucky and UK-Paducah.
Twelve WKU mechanical engineering students participated in the competition. The winning WKU team “Fifth Star” included Jeff DeJarnette of Rockfield, Caleb King of Scottsville, Anne Petry of Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil, and Christian Seymour of Hodgenville. This team will be invited to participate in the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition to be held next fall in San Diego.
In addition to the design competition, WKU ME juniors Darren Tinker of Bowling Green and John Runyon of Owensboro also participated in the Old Guard Technical Poster Competition. Tinker’s work reported on the development of a centrifugal pump test bed used for classes and research at WKU, and Runyon reported on independent 3D rendering software, a key element in helping designers visualize their ideas.
Professor Joel Lenoir, who teaches the Junior Design class said: “Our juniors did a tremendous job again this year. WKU was the only school to produce multiple successful designs; only eight teams were able to complete all required tasks within the allowed time for the competition, and four of those were WKU teams. The high quality of our students’ devices, and their enthusiastic participation speaks to the quality of students in the ME program. WKU Engineering has been graduating great engineers for more than 10 years.”
Other WKU participants at the ASME competition were Tim Bucklew of Bowling Green; Neal Bush of Elizabethtown; Seth Durham of Benton; Michael Perry of Evanston, Ill.; Cole Porter of Russellville; Rex Roberts of Henderson; and Jonathan Rogers of Greenville. Andrea Lenoir of Bowling Green was the morale officer. Hal Brown of Lewisburg; Matthew Cline of Beecher City, Ill.; Gordon Smith of Bowling Green; and Sean Tedtaotao of Bowling Green also participated in the preparation of the robots.
Contact: Engineering Department, (270) 745-2461.