Project Examples

Clean the Lowell Locks Project

Course: 22.425 - Design Machine Elements
Semester: Fall 2005
Instructor: Chris Niezrecki
Partner: Lowell Historical National Park (LNHP)

Brief Description:

The Lowell National Historical Park recently asked the engineering college’s help in designing a mechanism for cleaning the surface of the canals in Lowell from the trash that constantly blows in. One team of three students developed a Clean the Lowell Locks Project. To clean the Lowell Canal locks, students proposed a design with a radio controlled floating device that has a collecting container that essentially skims the top of the water.

Full Description:

The Lowell National Historical Park recently asked the engineering college’s help in designing a mechanism for cleaning the surface of the canals in Lowell from the trash that constantly blows in. The Park provided information regarding canal cleaning project as well as staff time to meet with students. Students worked with the Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP) to investigate ways of mechanically removing canal trash from the historic canal system. Ted Davis, LNHP Facility Manager, provided community oversight and reported that UML students were able to work independently and they were also highly motivated to “do a good job.” In addition, faculty reported that students were motivated, appeared more interested in their design projects as well as helpful in providing potential solutions of interest to the community.

One team of three students developed a Clean the Lowell Locks Project. To clean the Lowell Canal locks, students proposed a design with a radio controlled floating device that has a collecting container that essentially skims the top of the water. Analysis of yielding failure and fatigue failure were conducted on the design joints. Though many assumptions were made, the students concluded that their proposed design was calculated to withstand required loading and would hold up in fatigue.

Learning objectives met by the S-L project were for students to:

  • Experience the design process, including working directly with a community partners
  • The principles of mechanics and commonly used failure theories were applied to the design and analysis of machine elements subjected to static and dynamic (fatigue) load conditions.
  • Elements studied included power screws, bolts, springs, bearings, gears, lubrication, shafts, brakes, clutches, and belts.
  • Student designs included a stress analysis or fatigue analysis that integrated recommendations
  • Write brief technical reports and incorporate drawings

Community objectives met by the S-L project:

  • Individual partners derived benefit through appropriate mechanical designs tailored to specific needs
  • The LNHP project produced reports that continue to serve as potential mechanical designs to address this ongoing community need.