The Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design course – MAE162D/E – is a hands-on product design and realization course that spans over two quarters. In the first quarter, students are provided with the tools, such as software and hardware, they need to perform the design of an electro-mechanical product and in the second quarter they focus on finalizing their design, then building and testing it.
The MAE-162D/E sequence of classes offers an essential experience for up-and-coming engineers. The courses introduce students to mechatronics, the combination of electronics with mechanical devices, which is extremely important in today’s engineering world, by providing valuable hands-on learning experience. The sequence also encourages teamwork in design, in documenting, report writing, oral presentations as well as in competition.
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.
The 2016 class had 115 students who were divided into groups of five comprising a total of 23 teams. Each team was given a control board and a budget of $375 to design and build their autonomous vehicle. Students were given a set of High Level design requirements, which the design has to fulfill in order to qualify for the competition which was held on June 10th, 2016.
The teams began designing their projects in 162D (W’16) using the CAD and Mechatronics labs. In addition to innovating and creating their new product, teams also had to document their design process, which included writing three technical design reports, a Design Proposal, a Conceptual Design Report, and a Preliminary Design Report. These reports outline the team’s original design ideas, CAD models, the procedure used to down-select the final concept, detailed analysis related to the mechanical and electronic functioning of the transporter, as well as a comprehensive literature review.
There is a special emphasize on literature review, because as Tony Aponte – UCLA SEL Librarian – said finding the right sources of information helps fill the knowledge gaps in any design project. It is also important for designers to realize that information gathering is a process that is likely to be revisited throughout a project development cycle. In fact, the students of Team-17, Gregory Caguimbal, Thomas Chun, Hunter Jones, Fadi Rafeedi, and Samuel Samuel, made extensive use of UCLA Library resources which contributed to their exceptional Conceptual Design Report for MAE-162D, which won the team the First Prize of the UCLA 2016 Library Prize for Undergraduate Research (http://www.library.ucla.edu/support/support-students/showcasing-student-achievement/library-prize-undergraduate-research).
Over the course of the second part of the Capstone Design Course – MAE 162E (SP’16), teams completed fabrication, assembly, programming, and fine-tuning of their autonomous transporters. At the end of the class, a competition was held on June 10th (2nd floor Patio Engineering-IV Building) where teams got a chance to showcase their devices. Each team had a total of 5 minutes to complete as many autonomous roundtrips along the ramp and deliver as many golf balls as possible accurately and without falling off the “cliff” – the end of the ramp – all completely autonomously.
This year’s First Prize Winner was Team-13 Cheney Mao, Joseph Nicolino, Clara Takahashi, Michael Wu, and Jiaze Zhou (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNIC0M__F9E); Second Prize Winner was Team-16 Jinshuo Chen, Guotai Huang, Mia Sibul, Byron Sin, and John Young; Third Prize Winner was Team-10 Merrick Campbell, Nathan Chung, Bin Li, Xianwu Tan, Erchi Zhang.
This year’s MAE162D/E is taught by Prof. Robert Shaefer, Dr. Chris Kang, Prof. Dennis Hong, and Prof. T-C Tsao.