Project Examples

SOLO Gear Case Load Cell for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Course: 22.423 - Capstone
Semester: Spring 2006
Instructor: Sammy Shina
Partner:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)

Partnership Description: UMASS Lowell S-L students divided into four groups or teams to interact with partner organizations listed above. WHOI is a non-profit organization specializing in ocean research, engineering and education located in Woods Hole, MA on the southwest corner of Cape Cod. WHOI’s senior engineer, Jim Valdes, described an independent remote water sampling machine called “Argo” in need of redesign. He met with the UML team a couple of times during the semester and reviewed their final results. One of the graduating UML students was hired full-time by WHOI.

Project Description: SOLO Gear Case Load Cell for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Mechanical engineering capstone students were asked to design a tester mechanism for a high torque motor and gear case used in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) Argo Program. The program consists of a global array of 3000 free-drifting profiling floats that measure the salinity of the upper 2000 meters of ocean, allowing for continuous monitoring of temperature salinity and velocity of the upper ocean. The floats employ a high torque motor and gear box to maintain depth, by using a bladder that is inflated or deflated accordingly, by mechanical motion. The load cell is designed to simulate a load on the gear case motors similar to that which the motors will see in the ocean. The load cell and test apparatus designed by the students will ensure the proper operation of the floats in the ocean for the designed- in period.

Learning objectives met by the s-l project:

  • Investigate the environment and the use of their project in helping to monitor the oceans to insure proper care of the environment for the future.
  • Encourage technical communication skills by having the students produce a final report and presentations to other students in class using Microsoft office tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Project).
  • Experience working in close interaction and communications with professional engineers from WHOI, as well as with their advisor and laboratory managers at UML.
  • Learn more about teamwork, project management and delivering a complex project on time and within budget
  • Practice engineering and design ethical standards in taking data, analysis and performing their duties as prescribed
  • Learn about safety in making their machines work through several days without supervision, insuring their own as well as the laboratory safety and proper procedures to take
  • Explore the multi-disciplinary issues of motors and gears, some of which are mechanical as well as electrical and the use of software for data logging and analysis.
  • Research and become familiar with the relevant codes used by industry in the design and manufacture of high technology and aquatic products, as well as safety and environmental codes.

Community objectives met by the project:

  • A completed load cell and operating procedures for the motor gear case test, including connections to the WHOI computers and data logging programs.
  • Summary of sample tests performed by the students and their data analysis was also included
  • Help with global research into ocean temperature salinity and ocean current.

Evidence of positive results for students:

  • Students were motivated for the project and undertook several trips to WHOI to discuss with their engineers regarding details of the project
  • Students were always willing extra hours and extend themselves towards the completion of the project on time and with budget
  • Students completed a major report and presentations to their fellow students and professor at the end of the semester.
  • One of the students obtained a full time job with WHOI after graduation in June 06.

Positive results for faculty, Sammy Shina:

  • Enjoyed working with this student team, who were always happy and motivated. I called them the “happy team.”
  • Enjoyed interacting with WHOI and understanding of the research in to the upper ocean lifecycle.
  • This project was similar to other project I worked on in industry towards testing motors and I shared my experienced with the students.

Positive results for community: WHOI was very satisfied with the deliverables and hired one of the students as a full time engineer when he graduated. The only negative result was “the amount of time it took for the students to complete the project on time, and its effect on other course of study that they are taking.” Overall this was a “very satisfactory project and results to all stakeholders (professor, students, customer [WHOI].)”