Mechanical Engineering Students Put Capstone Ideas on World Stage

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Group photo of students participating in South Korea’s E2Festa engineering education festival.

Eight mechanical engineering seniors traveled to Seoul, South Korea, to present their projects at the Global Capstone Design Fair. This was the third time that Rose-Hulman students have participated, and won awards, at the event.

Three teams of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology mechanical engineering seniors combined educational opportunities with international relations in presenting their capstone design projects at the Global Capstone Design Fair, part of South Korea’s E2Festa engineering education festival.

And, one team earned the Excellence Prize for their scale model prototype of a self-contained aquaponics device that may contribute to Ivy Tech College’s proposed aquaculture program.

Aquaculture is now considered one of the world’s fastest-growing forms of food production, based upon the popularity of commercially produced fish. It is also being considered as a source of energy production.

Bo Geyer, Nate Michael and Matthew White have spent this academic year developing components for a self-sustained recirculation system that takes waste produced by the farmed fish to provide nutrients for plants. These plants in turn help purify the water for the fish, while producing vegetables and fruits. The fish are harvested once grown to a suitable size and weight.

“Really, our system is taking energy from the circulating water system, which otherwise would be wasted, and using it to help complete the cycle,” says Michael, from Madisonville, Ky., who is also majoring in chemical engineering.

The prototype had to fit inside a suitcase for transportation to Seoul, South Korea, for presentation before the panel of judges, consisting of worldwide technical experts and professionals. The students are now striving to demonstrate that the device can work on a larger scale. Then, it might be featured in a 2,500-gallon aquaponics system being proposed for Ivy Tech College’s Terre Haute campus.

“We could be reinventing the future of aquaculture. We’re way ahead of the learning curve in this new form of agriculture,” says Geyer, from Fort Wayne, Ind. “It’s a complex system that has several moving parts that have to work together to be successful.”

White, from Greenwood, Ind., adds, “The challenge has been taking things on a small scale on our campus and ramping it up within a much larger scale for use by Ivy Tech and others. There’s been a lot of interest throughout the world on what we’ve done.”

Another project featured at the Global Capstone Design Fair was an eating apparatus for a quadriplegic patient, developed by Harsh Dhruva from India, Seng Lim from Allentown, Pa., Mia Styczynski from Bloomington, Ill., and Devon Stewart from Columbus, Ind.

Presenting a water clarifier for aquaculture purposes was Noah Rome of Excelsior, Minn.

Rebecca Bercich, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, escorted the students on the international educational trip.

This was the second time that Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering projects had been part of the E2Festa engineering education event. Projects in physics and optical engineering earned awards in 2018 and 2014.