2023-24 Capstone Teams Close Out School Year with Expo

Did you happen to hear that sigh of relief last week, maybe late on Thursday afternoon? It may have come from members of our 2023-24 capstone teams at Purdue Polytechnic Institute as they completed their presentations at the annual School of Engineering Technology Spring Tech Expo. The expo gives capstone teams the chance to show off what they’ve accomplished during their year-long project. Two teams sponsored by Proportion-Air joined approximately 30 others as they presented their projects to other sponsors, students and faculty members.

Hot stuff: Superheated steam improvements for Burling Valve
2023-24 Capstone Team 15 members
Team 15 worked on a project to improve Burling Valve regulators for superheated steam applications. From left: Vincent Zhi, Hunter Kepner and Christopher Kurniawan.

Team 15’s project was to improve the design of a Burling Valve regulator to perform more effectively in superheated steam applications. The team included three students from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute: Vincent Zhi, majoring in mechatronics engineering technology and electrical engineering technology; Christopher Kurniawan, mechanical engineering technology; and Hunter Kepner, mechanical engineering technology.

Visiting Proportion-Air’s manufacturing facility during the year for hands-on experience was a highlight for team.

“I think one of the most interesting parts was getting to actually visit the plant where Proportion-Air does the Burling Valve machining and also seeing how it was tested,” Vincent said. “We also got to see the assembly of a bunch of other products. It was really cool.”

The students also pointed to interactions with professionals within Proportion-Air and at vendor companies as a valuable and enjoyable experience.

“It was really fun just to be able to meet either in person or on Teams with engineers of different backgrounds and different companies and get to see their inputs on these different problems,” offered Hunter.

Like the old adage, the team found that a problem well-defined is a problem half solved. When asked about the biggest challenge they faced, they identified the scope of the redesign.

“At first, we thought that we were going to need to redesign the entire valve,” said Christopher. “But when we looked deeper, it turned out it was just the seal and the piston.”

Once they had a better handle on the potential deliverable, they successfully created a 3-D printed version of a new seal and piston design.

Future plans for Team 15

Students are generally at or near the end of their college careers during the capstone project, and this team is no exception. With their project completed, the team can focus on their next steps.

  • Hunter has accepted a position at a manufacturer in Noblesville, Indiana.
  • Christopher will be joining Air Systems Inc. in San Jose, California, creating controls for HVAC systems.
  • Vincent has one more year of undergraduate work before graduating.

Watch Team 15’s final update

Team 15 expo poster
Team 15’s poster for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s SoET Spring Tech Expo
Hear ye, hear ye: Developing an acoustic position sensor for rodless cylinders  
2023-24 Capstone Team 16 members
The members of Team 16 tackled an acoustic position sensor project. From left: TJ Manifold, Nico Macchiavello, Jacob Nicholson and Ian Cockrell. Not pictured: Jason Ripper

Team 16 completed work on an acoustic sensor solution to provide proportional control for cylinder position without using a rod.

Five students were involved in this project: Jason Ripper, audio engineering technology; Jacob Nicholson, majoring in mechanical engineering technology as well as automation and systems integration engineering technology; TJ Manifold, electrical engineering technology; Nico Macchiavello, double major in electrical and audio engineering technology with a certificate in music technology; and Ian Cockrell, robotics engineering technology with a minor in electrical engineering technology.

Team 16 identified the chemistry they had together as one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.

“The project was the most fun when it started working, but even when it wasn’t, just being able to come in and talk with the entire group, being honest and open, was great,” said Ian.

After some initial challenges, the team found success, which involved measuring the amplification of the sounds they were hearing.

“There were weeks where we were looking at the data on LabVIEW and we just weren’t seeing what we wanted to. We could hear it. We could hear the amplification, but trying to get that measurement was the most challenging,” added TJ.

Team 16’s Next Steps

Like Team 15, this group of students has big plans after their finals.

  • Jason has accepted an offer with Caterpillar as a systems engineer on the large diesel engine electronics team.
  • Jacob will join Auburn Gear in Auburn, Indiana, as a process engineer.
  • RZ Automation in Noblesville, Indiana, has invited Ian to their staff as an automation engineer.
  • TJ is in search of an engineering role near Cincinnati.
  • Nico will rejoin HARMAN International as a summer intern before returning to campus in the fall to finish his final semester as a Purdue Polytechnic student.

Watch Team 16’s final update

Team 16 expo poster
Team 16’s poster for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s SoET Spring Tech Expo

Throughout the course of the year, these two student teams impressed us with their hard work, ingenuity and stick-to-itiveness as they faced challenges during their projects. We wish them well and look forward to them remembering us when they need an accurate, repeatable, customizable electro-pneumatic smart part from Proportion-Air or a tough Burling Valve for their future applications.

More educational opportunities

Our team is always looking for more opportunities to work with student groups. Visit our Student Programs page to learn more about programs like our capstone and electro-pneumatic starter kits.