Video: Around the

Video: Hurricane
Tower-Storm 2.0

Video: Vertical Axis
Wind Turbine

Video: Lunar
Rappelling Rover

LSU Mechanical Engineering Students Showcase Final Projects

Projects include wind turbines, hang gliders and a lunar rappelling rover

BATON ROUGE – LSU mechanical engineering students got a head start on professional development recently when the Department of Mechanical Engineering hosted its annual senior project display and demonstration.

“Several firms view the senior design projects as one of the key experiences necessary to be considered for employment by high profile engineering companies,” said Muhammad Wahab, the course instructor for senior design projects. “In fact, our design panel consists of several members from various companies, all of whom consider these demonstrations very important in their selection of new hires.”

Student groups dedicated as many as 7,000 hours to the projects, taking an idea that was in many cases supplied by an industry in need and then turning the theory into a real working physical model. In other words, this project is a condensation of their entire college education – a tangible product demonstrating the breadth and depth of their engineering knowledge.

“We needed to use almost every engineering class we had [taken] … to get the ideas from just an idea to a complete product,” said Alciades Velasquez, member of the Lunar Rappelling Rover team. “The LSU education definitely helped us to achieve our professional goals.”

The Mechanical Engineering Department provides its students with a unique and holistic approach to design through its Capstone Design Course Sequence. In this, students are presented with a design project description, specifications and a specific budget in the beginning of the fall semester. They work on their chosen project in groups supervised by a faculty advisor. By the end of the fall term, they complete the design and present and defend their findings in front of an evaluation group consisting of peers, faculty, alumni and a panel of industry experts.

Then, in the spring semester, the student groups proceed to the physical realization of their designs, testing and demonstration of performance according to the original specifications. The realization of the projects is done almost entirely in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop with the aid of technical staff and a substantial and modern manufacturing and fabrication infrastructure. At the end of this term, the groups present, demonstrate and defend the realized physical system – the product of their design and labor -- in front of the evaluation group and submit a final design report.

“Through the Capstone Design Course sequence, the students exercise their creativity combined with the science and engineering fundamentals they have learned throughout their study,” said Dimitris E. Nikitopoulos, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “They also develop project management skills, experience teamwork and the fiscal constraints of a limited budget to achieve their goals, and, most importantly, are given the opportunity to build their projects with their own hands. It is hard and challenging work, but this experience sets our LSU mechanical engineers apart from those of many other programs in the country.”

The mechanical engineering design projects have traditionally been well-supported by alumni and corporate donors. This year’s design evaluation panel included:

  • Michael W. Ackman, ExxonMobil Chemical Compan
  • Pete Bertrand, LSU mechanical engineering alumnus
  • Jason W. Bitting, Albemarle Corporation, Baton Rouge
  • David F Bowles, Communication across the Curriculum Engineering Studio
  • Jason Hugenroth, Inventherm, Baton Rouge
  • Warren R. Hull Sr., Communication across the Curriculum Engineering Studio
  • Benedict Lim, Shell Corporation
  • Todd Lindrew, Thermal and Process Inc.
  • David Mustain, Shell Corporation
  • Andrew McPhate, mechanical engineering professor emeritus and LSU alumnus

Student teams are eligible for four awards. The awards and recipients are:

  • Ben Burns Jr. Best Project Award
    This award is bestowed upon the student group which delivered the best of all student projects in the Capstone Design Sequence.
High Lift Aircraft for SAE Aero Design
Team Members: Theodore Bounds; Eric Bourgeois; John Dykes; Edward Scheuermann; Ian Walsdorf
Sponsor: The Louisiana Space Consortium, or LaSpace, and Hobby Town USA
Faculty Advisor: Keith A. Gonthier
  • Ned Adler Award for Outstanding Effort
    This award is given to the student project group which displayed the most outstanding effort in successfully completing their Capstone Design Project.
LSU Hurricane Tower-Storm 2.0
Team Members: Santhana Balaji; Allison Belanger; Ryan Broughton; Eric Frederickson; Jack Giles; Peyton Mayre; Jonathan McNabb; Valerie Vogler; Josh Williams
Sponsor: Marc Levitan; Kirby Hebert; Jack Chiu; LSU Hurricane Center; BEI; Orion Instruments
Faculty Advisor: Su-Seng Pang; Wanjun Wang; Marc Levitan
  • Exxon-Mobil Research Project Award
    This award is given to the student project group which displayed exceptional research qualities in the course of their project development and in reporting their results.
Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT)-2009
Team Members: Baine Breaux; Alexander Combe; Joseph LeBlanc; Lance LeBlanc; Mary LeBlanc; Michael LeBlanc; Jacob Savoy
Sponsor: James R. Bailey
Faculty Advisor: Dimitris E. Nikitopoulos
  • Fluor Corporation Safety Award
    This award is given to the student project group which best addressed safety issues and incorporated safety measures in their project.
LSU Flugtag
Team Members: Jason Cary; George Hunsucker; Abraham King; Eugene Lopez-Ona; Ryan Michael Meyer
Sponsor: LaSpace
Faculty Advisor: Keith A. Gonthier; Warren N. Waggenspack

For more information about the event, contact Mimi LaValle at 225-578-5706 or

Ashley Berthelot | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2009