Students Win National Engineering Design Competitions

Posted: May 19, 2011 at 11:06 am, Last Updated: May 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

By James Greif

students with turbidity poste

Students (from left) Jerrit Askvig, Leah Bode, Nathan Cushing and Collin Mullery won an award for their River Turbidity Reduction System. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Two student groups from Mason’s Systems Engineering Senior Design course in the Volgenau School of Engineering recently won first-place awards in two different national research competitions.

“This group of students did a fantastic job in our rigorous systems engineering program at Mason,” says Lance Sherry, associate professor of systems engineering and operations research. “Their success in the international design competitions against some of the best engineering schools in the nation is proof of their abilities and the quality of the systems engineering program.”

At the IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium (SEIDS’11), held at the University of Virginia on April 29, students Jerrit Askvig, Leah Bode, Nathan Cushing and Colin Mullery won first place in the Systems Applications Track for “Turbidity Reduction for the West and Rhode Rivers.”

For their paper, the students developed a computer model of the water flow for two rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, with the goal of maximizing the water quality at the lowest possible cost.

After weighing the options of adding Eastern oysters, adding soft-shell clams or performing living shoreline restoration, the group found that planting and protecting clams is one of the more cost-effective and environmentally safe ways of cleaning up the rivers.

Flight maintenance project group

Students (from left) Michael Dupuy, Dan Wesely and Cody Jenkins won an award for their Airline Fleet Maintenance project. Photo by Evan Cantwell

George Donohue, professor of systems engineering and operations research, served as an advisor to the team. Industry advisors also included West/Rhode Riverkeeper, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Project Oyster West River. Sherry accompanied the students to the conference as faculty advisor.

SEIDS is a student-focused international forum for applied research, development and design in systems and information engineering that features innovative research and alternative solutions to real-world problems.

Other universities participating in the competition included the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Tech, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Southern Methodist University, the University of Istanbul (Turkey) and the University of Venda (South Africa).

The second team of students won its award at the General Donald R. Keith Memorial Cadet Capstone Conference at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Students Mike Dupuy, Cody Jenkins and Dan Wesely won Conference Best Poster Award for “Airline Fleet Maintenance: Tradeoff Analysis of Alternate Aircraft Maintenance Approaches.”

Paul Kesler of  the Boeing Co. served as an industry sponsor for the group.

For this project, the students developed a computer simulation that compared the current airline industry maintenance approach of preventative parts replacement with two condition-based parts replacement approaches that used sensors to provide electronic information to repair crews at airports.

The team determined that the most cost-effective solution was to implement a condition-based parts replacement system in which repair information is transmitted to ground crews each time an aircraft arrives at the terminal.

The Cadet Capstone Conference allows undergraduates from several universities to present their research to an audience of professors, students, clients and judges.

The participants work with industry and government clients to analyze and tackle real- world problems. Other universities participating in the competition included the U.S. Air Force Academy, Virginia Tech and the U.S. Military Academy. The students were accompanied by Army Lt. Col. John Ferguson, a PhD candidate in the system engineering and operations research program.


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