Capstone and Its Challenges

Being a MECH student requires a lot of commitment and drive; especially when you are developing your Capstone Design project in a short period of time. Capstone is the final graduating requirement for UBC’s mechanical engineering students. Student teams choose from a pool of projects from different industry clients such as the ones shown here. These projects challenge students to apply knowledge and skills learned throughout their degree to real world problems.

The Capstone project I decided to pursue was with the AMS /SEEDS Sustainability Initiative. The project’s main objectives were to design, manufacture and implement a vertical axis wind-powered turbine that collects, transforms, and stores wind energy. It will then provide output power to charge at least one cell phone device around the UBC Plaza, while educating the public about sustainable energy methods and building a sense of community by providing seating space.

Over the past four months, my team and I have been working on collecting and understanding the needs and requirements from the client to find out the final goals of the project. This is no easy task as it requires a lot of hours of communication and meetings with not only the client, but other stakeholders.

Needs and requirements are explored and found at almost every stage of the project, because the more you research, the more they appear. For example, the sculpture had to be aesthetically pleasing while collecting energy, it had to be at least 12 feet tall so that users couldn’t reach the upper system,  and it had to also have a seating area to increase community building.  So far, the project is on the early stages due to having multiple major systems such as the electrical connection, the shape of the sculpture and the shape and manufacturing of the airfoils, that need to be defined and worked on, which makes this task harder. This capstone project is a combination of multiple individual capstone projects- since our project is in the public realm that means that every design we create needs to be approved by a certified professional Engineer, so that it meets the right safety standards.  This not only makes it more intense, but also increases our budget; there are a lot of things to account for.

With all of these challenges we are trying our best, and we are hoping all the hours and constant work we are putting into developing this project pays off in the end. I will let you know how it all goes a couple months from now. Feel free to ask me any questions any time at ambassadors@mech.ubc.ca.

Until next time!

 

Diana Nino

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