Student Design Competitions

The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department holds several student competitions each school year to enhance the practical components of the curriculum. The students are grouped into teams; and the results of these competitions are included in their grades for the courses. The requirements and results of these competitions are described below.

  • MAE 162D/E Capstone Mechanical Design Course – Spring 2016:
    This year’s design challenge was to develop an “Autonomous Transporter” (self-driving) to carry a golf ball up a ramp and deliver it at least 24 inches from the unloading platform with an accuracy of ± 10% of a predetermined distance and return to the starting platform of the wooden ramp. The ramp is made of plywood, is about 18 inch wide, has 3 platforms, 2 inclines, three 90o smooth turns, and a 3-inch high safety wall on all sides, except at the top platform where the transporter can drive off the platform, if it does not stop itself.
    More information
  • MAE 162D/E Capstone Mechanical Design Course – Spring 2015:
    The goal: Prepare the robots to autonomously navigate the curves and incline of a specially-built course and deposit as many golf balls as possible into a series of three holes. Each robot had five minutes. The three teams whose robots did the best would earn extra credit.
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  • MAE 94 Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Drafting/Rapid Prototyping – Spring 2014
    The object is to design and build a wind turbine rotor blade using a 3D printer with ABS plastic. The rotor hub and blades can be fabricated separately and assembled together (cannot contain non-3D printed parts), or it all can be all one piece. In addition, the maximum rotor diameter must be 120mm, the rotor must have a 2mm-diameter hole for installation to the generator, and the wind turbine should at least generate the following back emf:

    1. 50 mVolts at 4.5 m/s wind speed
    2. 100 mVolts at 6.7m/s wind speed

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  • MAE 157A Fluid Mechanics and Aerospace Laboratory: Capstone Aerospace Design Course – Spring 2014:
    The challenge is to build the fastest drag racing autonomous airplane. The race course is seven meters long with a one meter tall barrier at the finish line. A wireless transmitter started the race, and then the airplanes must fly completely autonomously over the barrier. The students are provided with a battery, motor, propeller, and micro-controller that they must integrate into their design. In addition to the provided materials, the students have a $100 budget for any other parts they might need.
    More information | Daily Bruin article | Competition video
  • MAE 162D/E Capstone Mechanical Design Course – Spring 2014:
    The challenge is to build a 11 x 11 x 11 inch electromechanical device, which can locate a billiard ball randomly placed on a 48 x 48 inch platform, approach and retrieve the ball, and then find the entrance to a 16-inch wide ramp and navigate the ramp with two inclines and three 90 degree bends, and finally deliver it into a collection bin at the end of the path. After delivering the billiard ball, the device must return down the ramp back to the starting platform. The entire process must be autonomous, except for pushing a start button on the device.
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  • MAE 94 Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Drafting/Rapid Prototyping – Fall 2013:
    The challenge is to design and build a device that propels itself using nothing but a single rubber band. The device must be designed using a CAD software and then fabricated using only a rapid prototyping device (no machining was permitted). The device can not be larger than 0.10 x 0.10 x 0.25 m3 and must travel a minimum distance of 0.5 meter on a flat surface using nothing but the potential energy stored in single rubber band.
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The Department would welcome any financial support from donors, parents, and companies to cover the component and materials expenses, as well as to provide small monetary prizes to motivate the students to excel in their designs.