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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Mechanical Engineering Students Show Off Senior Design Projects

The atrium of Old Dominion University's Kaufman Hall was filled with experimental cars, planes and robots on April 28, as graduating seniors in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology participated in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Student Projects Exposition.

A total of 11 senior capstone projects were on display, as students discussed projects ranging from aircraft powered by alternative fuels, to self-navigating robots, to race cars.

"It's really exciting seeing what the other students have worked on this year," said Joe Altomare, a graduating mechanical engineering student and project leader on an experimental solid-state aircraft project.

Altomare and his teammates were attempting to create a conceptual design for an aircraft that flaps its wings, to mimic the actions of a bird.

"It's been a rewarding experience. Our hope is to work toward testing the concept in a wind tunnel in the future," he said.

The diversity of the projects tackled by MAE seniors was impressive to Altomare, especially when they were all on display in the Kaufman Hall atrium. "There really is something for everybody in terms of the interests of what you want to work on," he said.

Jeremy Newman, a soon-to-be MAE graduate, led a team of senior design students who recently returned from the SAE Aero Design East competition in Lakeland, Fla. They competed to carry the heaviest possible payload with a small model aircraft designed by the team.

In the second year of the competition for Old Dominion students, the team's plane carried 18 pounds, double last year's total. However, Newman said the challenges of problem-solving throughout the semester, and during the competition, were even more valuable than the success in the event.

"It's been challenging being group leader," said Newman, who will take a job in the Engineering Leadership department of Altria in Richmond after graduation.

"The thing I've learned in this project is that the soft skills that you use in tackling a project like this are just as important as the engineering design. It's been a great experience."