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You can't handle all of my brown.
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Haven't posted here in forever because school is kicking my ass, but I'm almost done!
I'm starting my senior classes next week, and I'll be starting on a year-long project where the first semester is spent designing a mechanical device, and the second semester is spent producing it. In previous years, students were given about half a semester to brainstorm and choose our project, but as of a few days ago, we are now expected to have our project ideas selected before school even starts. Now I only have a few days to come up with ideas.
I wanted to see if there were any engineers out there that have any advice for me. I would like to keep it automotive or tool related, since that is where all of my experience is.

Lately I've been thinking about designing an aftermarket sound symposer for the na/nb miata (like what is included on a later NC, ND, or focus ST), so you can have the induction noise of an aftermarket (hot air) intake, while retaining the efficiency of the stock intake. Could possibly make it electronically activated, so it can be turned off when you don't want.

Any other ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I'm a mechanical engineer so I'll chime in:
Project scope should be relatively narrow.
While you won't pick your solution from the start, you should be able to envision how it might be broken up into pieces appropriate so everyone on the team shares the workload.
How is you project funded? if you have a $500 budget, and need to have 20 machined parts plus carbon fiber supplies and another bucket of hardware... you are going to run out of money.

Don't try to reinvent the wheel or create some incredibly revolutionary new device. The university will own it, and even if they don't, your other team mates will own some stake in it. Just pick something that's a good clear engineering challenge. My favorite example? A group two years ahead of me did a 2 speed forward, neutral, reverse gear box for the SAE baja car. That gear box was still in use a few years later. When I got to senior design, the dean of the college held up their project binder as the bible of how to do a design project.

A great project I saw was another team developed improved brake calipers for one of the members S2000. Another group build a CNC router that had a very rigid frame, but no table. It had a vacuum seal around the sides and to demonstrate it they used the vacuum seal to hold it on the white board, gave it a marker instead of a router, and it drew out the school logo.

Ideas: Hand control kits for UTV's for paraplegic drivers(I recently designed a kit for a guy who is going to be racing in the mint 400). Exhaust driven jacks for a racecar.
KERS for a bicycle(hydraulic accumulator, battery, capacitor, flywheel).

Good Luck! feel free to PM me here if you'd like contact info, I'd be happy to connect with you on linkedin and help with your upcoming job hunt any way I can.
 

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Also:

Lately I've been thinking about designing an aftermarket sound symposer for the na/nb miata (like what is included on a later NC, ND, or focus ST), so you can have the induction noise of an aftermarket (hot air) intake, while retaining the efficiency of the stock intake. Could possibly make it electronically activated, so it can be turned off when you don't want.
That does not sound like a mechanical engineering project, that sounds like lots of software and electronics and like 2 little pieces of hardware. Just my $.02, but try to stick with all mechanical stuff. If you have to use electronics, let it be relatively minor, and almost entirely off the shelf.

Don't pick something weird, seriously. Pick something kinda normal, but show you know how to optimize the crap out of it and create novel solutions to problems you encounter along the way. Then you will have a nice portfolio to show off at interviews and job fairs.
 

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I am also a mechanical engineer, my .02.

I don't know what kind of school you go to but my first question is what kind of resources do you have access to, and what would you say your program has emphasized? As Humming said, your suggestion does not really seem to speak to a heavy amount of the mechanical discipline, however if your program has been big on electrical/controls inferfacing then you could probably swing that.

I completely agree with Humming on not getting overly complicated with this, because in the end you won't own it or even a significant part in it, you will have had limited resources to produce it, and in my opinion depsite all your work, it will barely even be an alpha concept in the real world.

When my senior design group was looking for project ideas, we looked into basic things that we could apply engineering discipline to, were common issues in their given industry, and would have a good return on investment for the work we put in. We ended up building a compliant(You know what a compliant mechanism is right?) set of pliers that were injection molded that could be used for a variety of things, but we marketed as a good tool for electrical work(non conducting) and a good set of outdoor pliers since not corrosive. We were able to model stress points and use mechanical advantage calcs to really show off some MechE skills.

Pick a common problem you get tired of dealing with but don't have a common solution, and develop a simple solution.
 

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Looks like this is the mechanical engineer thread.

You have to think of things people actually want. Make sure there is a market for it(yes I know its just a project). People seem to be removing these out of newer cars or complaining about them. Just my opinion.
 

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Something to consider: ABET accredits your degree program, and as part of that, EVERY engineering cap stone project gets audited. You will have to fill out forms or have a section included in your report, or both, explicitly stating how you used skills from multiple subsets of mechanical engineering(structural, materials, thermal Dynamics, vibration, etc). This should absolutely be considered, and is a major part of why I said to pick a project that is as mechanical as possible.

Also, from that stuff you emailed me, it seems you only have to pick ahead of time if you want to be a team leader. Good on you if you do want to, but not absolutely mandatory.
 

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You can't handle all of my brown.
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Discussion Starter #7
I appreciate all the advice! Our program is more focused on the mechanical end of things. We have done a little electrical and controls, but it was more of an introduction than anything.

stng_96 - I like that idea about the pliers. I've been leaning towards some sort of simple tool like that, but haven't thought of anything yet.

humming- Right. Anyone can submit an idea, but only group leads will be able to choose the project. So far, I have two people in the class that I've been working with for over a year that I trust to have in my group, and out of the three of us, it's most likely that I will end up being the lead.
 

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You can't handle all of my brown.
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Discussion Starter #8
IDEA

I recently built a 3d printer, and I was thinking that it would be nice to have a multi-tool specifically for 3d printing. Could include a scraper for removing prints from the bed, pin to help clear nozzle clogs, 6mm wrench to remove the the nozzle, and a couple common allen key sizes. It would be more convenient for the typical consumer who doesn't have a lot of tiny tools laying around. Not sure if this is complicated enough for a design project, just a thought for now.
 

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No offense, but to me thats not really a design project? You're managing resources there, but haven't really used your skillset to develop anything new.

Something I thought of earlier, take this for what you will. I have been looking at different intake options for my lifted car, which is something that is obviously lacking on the market for these cars. Yes there are a few, but nothing that really sets itself apart. Perhaps you could consider developing some new options here? Air flow through the intakes of any car is an application of your fluid dynamics studies, perhaps consider a new intake design? New routing, different sizes, and use your knowledge to prove your improved design over the OEM parts, and a budget intake that pulls air from under the hood? Wouldn't have to be the manifold portion, even just the intake parts in front of it. Test with options to the passenger side and drivers, different materials, different lengths to develop velocity?

I am just spitballing here, there should be a fair amount of information on the market for this subject, and you should be able to model this process/3D print parts.
 

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IDEA

I recently built a 3d printer, and I was thinking that it would be nice to have a multi-tool specifically for 3d printing. Could include a scraper for removing prints from the bed, pin to help clear nozzle clogs, 6mm wrench to remove the the nozzle, and a couple common allen key sizes. It would be more convenient for the typical consumer who doesn't have a lot of tiny tools laying around. Not sure if this is complicated enough for a design project, just a thought for now.
What formula would be required? What math would you need to do? What analysis is necessary to design this?

If the answers to that are simple and short, probably not adequate for your design project.
 
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