Senior Mechanical Engineers Present Capstone Design Projects

Sponsor Steve Christini ’95 ME with members of the Christini Electric Hybrid AWD Motorcycle team and team advisor Dr. Philip McLaughlin, professor emeritus.
Sponsor Steve Christini ’95 ME with members of the Christini Electric Hybrid AWD Motorcycle team and team advisor Dr. Philip McLaughlin, professor emeritus.

Senior Mechanical Engineering majors recently presented their capstone design projects in an annual competition between teams. Three industry judges evaluated the presentations on content, organization, delivery and effectiveness, and response to audience questions. Nineteen teams competed for bragging rights, award certificates and gift cards.

Taking first prize were Benjamin Crawford, Christopher Rizzo, Abigail O'Brien, Christopher Garcia and Hunter Schryver for their work on the Christini Electric Hybrid AWD Motorcycle. The objective of their project was to modify the company’s existing AWD motorcycle with a near silent hybrid propulsion system that would allow for military use in stealth situations.  The team had five major design tasks—component selection (electric motor, rotary engine, battery pack and controller), component placement, weight analysis, component integration and stress analysis—which were delivered in the proof of concept prototype. Team leader Ben Crawford says, “Working with an industry-leading company like Christini Technologies (owned by Villanova Engineering alumnus Steve Christini ’95 ME) was an incredibly rewarding experience that allowed our team to transition our work from the classroom to the real world. We utilized a diverse set of skills and perspectives to elevate our design and transform it into a working prototype.”

Christini Technologies will continue to bring the team’s designs to life and incorporate additional functionality such as regenerative braking and auxiliary charging that were designed, but not yet incorporated into the prototype. Ben adds, “Once completed, the motorcycle will be a one of a kind tool and vital to the military's ability to successfully operate in the new era of warfare.”

Villanova’s Formula SAE racecar in competition.
Villanova’s Formula SAE racecar in competition.

The second place Mechanical Engineering design team was made up of Joseph Montemarano, Allison Boyd and Gillian Krautman who worked on the development and validation of a lap time simulator for motorsport applications. The three students are on Villanova’s Formula SAE team, which competes in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Collegiate Design Series, working to design, build and test an open wheel racecar each spring.

Chief Engineer Joseph Montemarano  explains, “Early in the design season, the team does a statistical analysis on the points distribution of the previous competition in order to determine which events have the greatest potential points gain for a given increase in placement. The main limitation in this approach is the schism between deciding what our vehicle goals are and how those goals feed into the completed vehicle's performance characteristics.” The lap time simulation environment serves to create a parameterized space in which varying vehicle parameters affect lap time, and in turn, points earned. The team’s goal is to lay the foundation for the simulator to be continuously built upon by future team members in the coming years.

Christini with members of the Christini Hybrid Fatbike team and advisor Dr. McLaughlin.
Christini with members of the Christini Hybrid Fatbike team and advisor Dr. McLaughlin.

Finally, third place went to Theresa Thompson, Gregory Maino, Joseph Camilleri, William Higginson and Kolby Koeck for the Christini Hybrid Fatbike, which is used by Air Force Special Ops. The team’s objective was to develop a hybrid-electric system for the current AWD fatbikes, maintaining their 200 mile range and reducing the weight. They successfully developed a proof-of-concept prototype with selected components and also suggested further improvements that included a rotary engine and custom battery. In addition, the team conducted finite element analysis on Christini's current bike frame and recommended improvements in critical areas.

Among the other senior projects sponsored by corporate partners were 3-D Underwater Mapping with Stereo Sonar (Harris Corporation), a Smart Robotic Hoist (United Technologies Research Corporation) and 3-D Printing of Exoskeletons (GlaxoSmithKline).  Projects also benefited a number of the College’s international partners, including water technology for Madagascar and an unexploded ordnance remediation robot for Cambodia.