2015 Winners

2015 Biomedical Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 10: Miniature Cell Culture Incubator with Live Cell Imaging for Microscopes

Sponsored by- University of Connecticut

Sponsor Advisor – Dr. Kazunori Hoshino

Team: Casey Settle, Alyssa Merkle and Kim Curran

Faculty Advisor – same as Sponsor Advisor

Cell cultures are vital to the medical world. They are used for testing and growing cells under controlled conditions that mimic their natural environment. Cells commonly need to be viewed live under a light or inverted microscope for analysis of growth, cell counts, differentiation, and a multitude of other observations. Mammalian cells require environmental temperature, carbon dioxide level, and media components to be maintained. Because cells need to be kept in very specific conditions, viewing them under a microscope live can be done only for a limited time without causing changes to their natural behavior or cell death. The current option for long-term live cell imaging is to use a camera-equipped microscope with an enclosed stage that keeps the temperature and carbon dioxide levels regulated. Although these microscopes do provide both a hospitable environment for cells and good imaging options, they are extraordinarily expensive and not readily available in most labs.

The purpose of this project was to create an inverted microscope stage-top incubator for use with cell culture studies. The device regulates the carbon dioxide and temperature levels around a petri dish or microchip. This will provide a suitable environment for long term live cell imaging on an inverted microscope. Specifically, the device consists of an open platform that has interchangeable slots for both petri dishes and glass slides encased in a chamber. The temperature is regulated by a temperature sensor controlled by an Arduino platform. A fan is placed outside the case to circulate airflow and ensure consistent heating throughout. The carbon dioxide is regulated with a valve that is opened and closed automatically by digital logic gates controlled by a sensor within the case. The entire casing is about 5.950 in. by 6.875 in.by 0.820 in. so that it can easily fit on the stage of an inverted microscope. This small encasing will provide a convenient and cost efficient way to keep cells thriving through the imaging process with commonly used microscopes that are already available in most labs

2015 Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 10: Novel production and Purification of Manganese Dioxide

Sponsored by- Duracell

Sponsor Advisors – Dr. Michael Pozin

Team: Naomi Tennakoon, Abbey Wangstrom, Andrea DiVenere, Gianna Credaroli and Nicole Beauregard

Faculty Advisor – Dr. William Mustain

Duracell, a division of Proctor & Gamble,is the world’s leading manufacturer of alkaline batteries. The active materials of Duracell alkaline batteries consist of zinc at the anode and electrolytic manganese dioxide (EMD) at the cathode. The intrinsic properties of their EMD material imposes a limitation on the batteries’ capacity. The existing EMD synthesis procedure incorporates impurities into the material that shorten the lifespan of the final battery product.The existing analytical method is inadequate in achieving the desired precision to quantify these impurities. This diminished product life reduces the economic worth of the battery and increases the environmental footprint of its waste. From a production standpoint, the inability to definitively quantify the presence of impurities has become a burden in both optimizing the synthesis process and marketing the final product.

The goal of this Capstone Design is to develop novel procedures for both the production and characterization of a more pure electrolytic manganese dioxide for Duracell’s use in their alkaline batteries. Incorporating electrolyte additives has been hypothesized that using will decrease the impurities in the material. A scaled-up procedure and a production plant design will allow integration of these improvements into manufacturing facilities.

The solution strategy employed a combination of experimental and computational work to optimize the electrolysis procedure and thereby diminish the presence of EMD impurities. Testing several additives in the electrolytic bath and varying the electrolysis conditions produced in-house EMD. These experiments also provided parametric inputs for a computational model, which was developed to better understand the effects of these new conditions. To characterize each EMD synthesized, thermogravimetric analysis has been used for its superior precision to the existing analytical method in quantifying the product’s quality. With the scaled-up production and more definitive quantification of a more electrochemically pure EMD material, Duracell can improve the quality of their leading product. A battery with higher capacity can improve Duracell sales, lessen the environmental burden of battery waste products, and enhance the consumers’ trust in their power.

2015 Civil and Environmental Engineering Winners

Note: There was a tie for 1st place during the competition.

1st Prize A – Team 7: Rehabilitation of the Merritt Parkway Bridge over the Saugatuck River

Sponsored by- CT Department of Transportation

Sponsor Advisors – Rabih Barakat, P.E.; Jon Hagert, P.E.; and David Gruttadauria, P.E.

Team: Ivan Anderson, Hamza Aslam, Kelly Kitchell and Kevin McMullen

Faculty Advisor – Dr. Arash Esmaili Zaghi

The Merritt Parkway Bridge over the Saugatuck River, ConnDOT Bridge #00728, is located in Westport, CT. It is an open spandrel steel arch bridge and was constructed in 1938. Over the past 76 years, the Saugatuck River Bridge has survived the tests of time and is still operating despite the large amount of corrosion that the structural members of the bridge have experienced. The bridge was repaired once in 1990. During a recent routine inspection in December 2012, several superstructure members of the bridge were found to be structurally deficient.

The purpose of our project was to determine which structural members within the superstructure were critical and in need of repair. We primarily focused on columns, stringers, floor beams, and ribs. Suggested rehabilitation methods were provided for those critical members to restore the structural capacity of the bridge. Using the program CSI Bridge, we have developed two 3D models of the entire superstructure and deck of the bridge. The first model is the bridge as it was in 1990 and the second is the bridge in its current condition including section loss due to corrosion. We compared the capacities of each structural member and applied a load rating in order to determine critical members. HL- 93 loading, which is the minimum load that all bridges in the US, was applied to the models in order to determine its response. Since the Merritt is a limited service parkway, it is not imperative for the bridge to service HL-93 loading. Therefore we tested the response of the models against the permit loads.

This bridge has major importance in the transportation network of Connecticut because it is the main commuter route between Connecticut and New York. The Merritt Parkway has also been recognized as a National Scenic Byway and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.Our approach increases the capacity of the bridge while still maintaining its historic architecture. Our design suggestions comply with the ConnDOT Merritt Parkway Bridge Restoration Guide. The rehabilitation methods that will be used to repair the Merritt Parkway Bridge over the Saugatuck River will increase the capacity of the structure to allow it to continue to service daily traffic and will maintain the architectural appeal of the original design


1st Prize B – Team 8: Rehabilitation of Structure No. 00728, Route 15 over the Saugatuck River in Westport, CT

Sponsored by- CT Department of Transportation

Sponsor Advisors – Rabih Barakat, P.E.; Jon Hagert, P.E.; David Gruttadauria, P.E

Team: Alexandra Hain, Adam Przekopski, Matthew MacMurray, Eli Española

Faculty Advisor – Dr. Arash Esmaili Zaghi

Structure No. 00728 is an open-spandrel arch bridge originally built in 1938. It is located in Westport, CT over the Saugatuck River along Route 15, also known as the Merritt Parkway. In 1990, the bridge was widened from its original 67’7” to a new width of 70’4” to allow for better flow of modern traffic. On December 20, 2010 a routine inspection was completed downgrading the bridge to an overall condition of a four on a scale from zero to nine.Any structure rating less than five requires attention. Due to the results of the routine inspection, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CONNDOT) initiated a refurbishment project for Structure No. 00728 to ensure the bridge remains structurally sound.

AMEA Engineering Associates Inc. was tasked with finding the load rating factors for the structure in both its current state and reference state, the structure after the 1990 rehabilitation and widening. The load rating factors for the reference structure are needed in order to determine whether the bridge could handle the loading in perfect condition. The current load rating is needed in order to determine what the bridge can handle with its current section loss.

CSiBridge was used in order to model and analyze the structure to find the load rating factors. One type of each element (column, stringer, floor beam) was load rated. In order to select the members, analysis was run on the whole bridge to determine where in the structure each type of element is most critical. Following determination of critical members and modeling the structure, load rating factors were calculated for the structure as designed and the structure given section losses. Due to the historic nature of the Merritt Parkway and accompanying restrictions, analysis was limited to the Permit Loads the structure is exposed to.

2015 Environmental Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 3: UConn Water Reuse Management Plan

Sponsored by- Woodward & Curran

Sponsor Advisors – Mike Burns

Team: Nicole Anagnostaras, Adam Dassouki, Kristen Montes-de-Oca, Daniel Thompson

Faculty Advisor – Allison MacKay

In May of 2013 the University of Connecticut celebrated the opening of the new Reclaimed Water Facility. The building treats effluent from UConn’s Water Pollution Control Facility for use at the University’s Central Utilities Plant, in the place of potable well water. The University’s Central Utilities Plant is the largest on-campus consumer of water, and substituting potable water for reclaimed wastewater significantly reduces campus water usage. The Central Utilities Plant uses the water primarily for steam creation in the boilers with some additional needs for cooling. Shortly after the Reclaimed Water Facility went into operation, the Central Utilities Plant began noticing a higher than anticipated increase in conductivity levels. To prevent conductivity from reducing the lifespan of the equipment at the Central Utilities Plant, interim steps of partial blending, or exclusive use, of well water were implemented. The goal of this project is to design a solution that provides boiler water makeup with conductivity level of below 20 μS/cm from the reclaimed water facility.

High conductivity waste streams from the boilers and cooling towers are sent to the UConn Water Pollution Control Facility, then to the Reclaimed Water Facility, and finally back to the Central Utilities Plant. This arrangement of the three facilities results in a semi–closed loop of water. Our approach was to develop a conceptual model of all three facilities and to use mass balance analyses to determine the root causes of the current problems. Water softener operation in the Central Utilities plant is the predominant source of elevated conductivity levels. Salts in the softeners return back to the Water Pollution Control Facility and effectively re-cycle through the system. We proposed a Water Reuse Management Plan that uses both engineering and management solutions. In our final plan, we outlined some possible design options to pursue, including upgrading the CUP’s lift station and removing high conductivity water to be treated offsite, adding additional treatment steps to the Reclaimed Water Facility, and managing chemical additions and disinfection steps throughout the system.

2015 Computer Science and Engineering Winners

Computer Science and Engineering

1st Prize – Team 14: Parkshark Mobile App

Sponsored by- Team Members

Sponsor Advisors –Same as team members

Team: Cameron Panagrosso, Steven Gerhard, Steven Grasso, Justin Timmons

Faculty Advisor – Dr. Steven A. Demurjian

The ParkShark system was developed in order to address the issue of commuter parking on the University of Connecticut’s Storrs Campus. Commuters travel between 1-3 parking lots per day, sometimes several times per day; during peak hours this creates unnecessary extra traffic on the already crowded roads, and can cause the commuter to be late to class if there are few remaining spaces. ParkShark is an application system which is intended to shorten the time that users spend trying to find a parking space. The main purpose of the system is to provide a convenient service to UConn’s Commuters – reducing the time it takes to get to where the user needs to go and reducing traffic generated by vehicles searching for parking spaces.

The ParkShark system is comprised of several main components which allow it to operate: a network of small sensors, a database to store pertinent information, and user interfaces on multiple platforms. Each sensor is contained within a weather-proof enclosure in order to survive tough winter conditions and abuse. Additionally, the sensor is built to be low-powered and to recharge itself via solar power – thus minimizing the replacement frequency and maintenance cost. The sensor registers vehicles entering or exiting the lot through the use of a magnetometer; once a vehicle is registered, a message containing lot data and the number of cars involved is sent to the server for processing. The server will update the database accordingly, which is then used to convey information to the user appropriately.

The user interfaces are available on the Android and iOS mobile platforms, as well as a web application for administrative use. Through the use of the mobile apps, a user may visualize the current status of each parking lot, and be routed to the nearest convenient parking lot to the location that they are attempting to reach. The administrative application gives the user the ability to manage parking lot data and user data, including but not limited to: parking lots available on campus, parking lot capacities, permitted parking permits for each parking lot, lot closures, and permitted administrative users

2015 Electrical and Computer Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 1504: Command and Control of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Sponsored by- UConn ECE Dept. L.I.N.K.S. and UWSN

Sponsor Advisors –Dr. Shalabh Gupta and Dr. Shengli Zhou

Team: Daanish Zaidi, Samantha McNellis,, Clancy Emanuel

Faculty Advisors – same as Sponsor Advisors

Oceanic exploration and monitoring is quickly becoming an area of intense focus and interest that touches industries and academic pursuits as diverse as energy extraction, shipping, and climatology. Autonomous Underwater Vehicles or AUVs have the ability to monitor a large section of seafloor, loiter near an undersea cable laying operation, inspect shipwrecks, or traverse great distances while gathering valuable oceanographic data, all without any human interaction or guidance. Current AUVs rely on surfacing momentarily to fix their position with GPS for navigation and radio or satellite connections to upload data intermittently, so they are unable to communicate, send data, or fix their position while underwater due to the physical limits of microwave transmission through water.

Senior Design Team 1504’s goal wasto realize the guidance and navigation system for an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. The outcome is an AUV that can receive a destination coordinate encoded as an acoustic signal, fix its positon using a network of acoustic communication modems, and move towards the destination without needing to surface. Now the AUV’s ability to remain underwater is only limited by its battery life. The AUV itself is a combination of an off-the-shelf remote-controlled Thunder Tiger Neptune SB-1 submersible and a fully custom-built electronics package containing a single board computer, Arduino, and the integral acoustic modem processing board among other devices. The electronics package is housed inside a custom Plexiglas box which sits on top of the submersible allowing it to receive commands and communicate with a network of acoustic modems while submerged.

The team built upon the hardware designs from previous senior design teams and thegraduate students of the UWSN lab, and made key adjustments to the power delivery circuitry inside the electronics package to increase reliability. Significant enhancements to the AUV’s control software were made by incorporating the Robot Operating System, an open source robotics software middleware kit, into the project allowing future teams to easily add hardware and software capabilities to the AUV such as cameras for feature detection. A PID controller was also realized in software, which allows the AUV to maintain a givenheading and speed by integrating data from aspecialized marine compass and accelerometer chip.

2015 Materials Science and Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 13: Zeiss MultiSEM Sample Mount

Sponsored by- Zeiss

Sponsor Advisors – Dr. Pascal Anger and Dr. Kyle Crosby

Team: Eric Bousfield, Stephen Ecsedy and Kyle Keeley

Faculty Advisor – Dr. Puxian Gao

Project summary – Carl Zeiss has built a multi beam scanning electron microscope (MultiSEM) to be used by a research team, led by Dr. Jeff Lichtman, at Harvard University. The team is using the 61 beam (MultiSEM) to image small sectional slices of a mouse brain, which are then layered upon each other to create a three dimensional map of neurons and their synapses. This process involves taking thousands of SEM images and subsequently processing them, therefore a major obstacle the team faces is the time required to image the brain slice samples. The advantage of the MultiSEM is that it uses 61 electron beams to image the sample, instead of just one beam which would be found in a conventional SEM, which allows for a much larger area to be captured in each image, greatly reducing the time required to build the three dimensional map of the mouse brain. The Harvard research team processes the samples by adhering them to 4 in diameter silicon wafers, which are then imaged using a visible light microscope (VLM), followed by the high-magnification high-resolution (4nm) image capture using the MultiSEM. The current system and mount used by the research team allow for relatively fast image capture;however the process flow and mounting system still need to be optimized.The goal of the senior design group is to design a new sample mount for the MultiSEM that can be used in both the VLM and the MultiSEM to increase the accuracy and the reproducibility of the images taken.

Initial work on the project consisted of materials research to determine the optimal material to be used for the sample mount. The current mounts use nickel plated aluminum, as aluminum is cheap and conductive but will produce a water absorbent oxide when exposed to atmospheric air, and a nickel coating will stop this oxide

growth. This material choice works well and is one of the most cost effective options. A new sample mount will be designed and prototyped using SolidWorks.This design will incorporate an adapter mount and permanent mount per wafer, both using a dovetail mounting system. This will allow for each wafer sample to have a designated mount, increasing the reproducibility of the images taken. Additional alternatives were investigated, including using pre-machined aluminum plates for use as the permanent wafer mounts.

2015 Mechanical Engineering Winners

1st Prize – Team 9: Portable A1 System

Sponsored by- Coviden

Sponsor Advisors – Mr. Paul Rinaldi

Team: Cameron Dickson, Yanis Iddir, Jason Walker

Faculty Advisor – Dr. David Pierce

Covidien is a global provider of medical devices. They have one of the world’slargest surgical stapling platforms specializing in laparoscopic surgery. Covidien has tasked us with the creation of developing a testing device that will look for the correct firing force output of their powered stapling devices called the iDrive and the Endo GIA adapter that connect to each other. The way the stapling device functions, the iDrive acts similar to a handheld drill and has a motor with creates a rotational motion. This rotational motion is transferred into the adapter which transforms it into a linear motion and is used to fire the actual stapling device called a SULU. The current method for testing the adapter is called the A1, it is very large, bulky machine that cannot be moved. We were to build a portable handheld version of this machine that will connect to the end of the iDrive and adapter assembly. The goal for our project was to make a portable, inexpensive, safe and small testing device, which could be easily operated by a Covidien engineer. This portable A1 will be used for engineering testing as well as testing units that failed in the field during actual surgeries. The team’s solution to this problem was to develop multiple designs, fabricate two different devices that were tested, analyzed and compared against each other to determine which design was the best.