With the second semester of the 2017-18 school year underway, our pneumatic lab team has now passed four of the six gates to completing their capstone project.
They spent the last month or so working on Gate 4. This gate included creating design plans to build and refine the three labs they have selected. Now that they have specific plans, they are acquiring the parts specified in their bill of materials. The BOM includes Proportion-Air products, like safety regulators, volume boosters, transducers and our signature pressure regulators, and the materials necessary to construct the frame.
Once the parts are in hand, the fun begins: Gate 5 is building and testing prototypes. They’ve created guides for each of the three labs, including learning outcomes and problem statements using fictional companies dealing with real-life applications.
- A pressure-focused lab will demonstrate how manufacturers use closed-loop systems to pressurize food and beverage products. Students will learn the principles of how cylinders work and how to maintain pressure in them. Proper use of pressure transducers and electronic pressure regulators is also covered.
- During a lab that illustrates flow, students will create a system that simulates the operation of a power plant on a micro level. They’ll learn how to use a flow controller, calculate the airflow required to power an air cylinder and gain an understanding of where a flow sensor could be implemented.
- A lab that features temperature control using air flow will show students how to cool a mold. They’ll start with an open-loop system with a light bulb and fan without a temperature sensor. After evaluating those results, they’ll build a closed-loop system with a temperature sensor to see the added control provided by pressure regulation.
After the prototypes for these labs are built, the team will test them with different audiences. They’ll be their own subjects first. Next, they’ll run the labs through their adviser, Dr. Jose Garcia, and Dr. Anne Lucietto, an assistant professor of engineering technology. The team will take all of the data collected to make adjustments before their submission.
Gate 5 is due in late March. The team has a lot to accomplish between now and then, but since this is the hands-on part of the capstone that drew them to the project in the first place, we think it will be the most enjoyable yet.