Purdue student innovations: from aerial drone to diesel engines

December 7, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University students completing a mechanical engineering senior design course will demonstrate 13 inventions, including a system to improve the efficiency of diesel engines in trucks and an autonomous shopping cart.

The students will display their works during the School of Mechanical Engineering's Thomas J. & Sandra H. Malott Innovation Awards competition on Friday (Dec. 11). The projects will be on display from 1-3 p.m. in the Hill Student Commons in the Gatewood Wing of the Mechanical Engineering Building. An awards ceremony will be in the same location at 2 p.m.

The senior design teams were advised by mechanical engineering professor John Starkey and instructor John Nolfi.

Creations include:

*A louver system to reduce air flow into the radiators of truck engines and improve efficiency in cold weather. Operators now achieve this effect by manually adjusting a cloth cover over the front of the truck. The new system automatically senses engine water-jacket temperature and actuates a louver system in front of the radiator to minimize air flow.

* A ceiling-mounted evaporative cooler for hot, dry climates. Current evaporative spot coolers are portable, taking up valuable floor space, or are bulky and aesthetically unappealing. The solution is a ceiling-mounted evaporative cooler that incorporates a fan and water evaporation system in a package that resembles a ceiling fan and cools a 25-square-foot floor space.

 *A Caterpillar engine test-cell monitoring system that can inspect all of the critical areas of the engine in the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light spectrums.

* A tennis-ball-collecting robot called Court Guard. The robot navigates half the court at a time to retrieve tennis balls.

* A dolly capable of moving across flat ground and stairs but folds into a compact package for travel or storage.

* A package-delivery aerial drone seen as a step toward creating semi-autonomous shipping technologies.

* A Hyperloop model based on a vacuum-tube transit system originally proposed by inventor and business magnate Elon Musk to transport passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The model integrates student innovations, while teaching and inspiring the general public about the idea.

Thomas J. Malott retired as president, CEO and director of Siemens Energy and Automation in 2000. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1962 and an honorary doctorate in 2002. He also holds a master's in business administration from Western Michigan University. His career included executive positions with Parker-Hannifin and the Ransburg Corp. Malott served on the board of directors for Siemens Energy and Automation, Siemens Mexico, Siemens Canada, Siemens Power Transmission & Distribution, Siemens Foundation, and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. He also served on the advisory board of Lutron Electronics. He was an inaugural member of the Purdue Foundation Development Council and was awarded the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer and Distinguished Engineering Alumnus awards in 1991 from the university. 

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709, venere@purdue.edu  

Source: John Starkey, 765-494-8607, starkey@purdue.edu  

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