Capstone Conference 2018 Winners

Each year, the Dalhousie Engineering Capstone Conference gives senior engineering students the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge to solving real world problems from industry partners.

The Capstone Conference Judges identify the most successful project/presentation from each engineering discipline. Below are the winners from the 2018 DECC:

Michelin Award for Excellence in Materials and Mechanical Engineering: Automated Cricket Harvester

Colin Gardiner, Scott Campbell, Megan Clarke, and Jane Kramer Ouillette

As the world's population grows, the need for abundant and efficient sources of protein has led to a boom in insect farming. As you might imagine, farming enormous quantities of tiny creatures presents unique challenges to farmers.

Harvesting just one bin's worth of crickets can take a full hour of labour and result in the accidental destruction of up to 10% of the livestock. With little available research on this developing field and no automated harvesting technology on the market, there is a great demand for innovation in insect farming.

Gardiner et al. were given a pioneering task: to design the first automated cricket harvester, to reduce the labour cost and stock loss inherent to the process of farming crickets.

Their resulting design harvests crickets six times faster than the current manual methods, while reducing stock loss in the harvesting process to 0.5% and avoiding unnecessary stress for the harvested insects.

To learn more about the group's design, see their prize-winning poster [PDF - 1,111kb].


NSERC Award for Excellence in Industrial Engineering: Warehouse Optimization for Ultra Electronics

Zoé Deveau, Tyler McDowell, Florance Park, and Kevin Weinreich

A ~20% reduction in warehouse space was causing problems for Ultra Electronics: as their employees adapted to the newly constricted space, overlapping workflow and an excess of deadstock were creating unnecessary increases in employee workload.

Deveau et al. were tasked with improving inventory allocation, identifying deadstock, and creating an improved workflow for the staff at Ultra Electronics. They approached the task with inventory analysis, interviews with staff, and Python's CBC Solver to optimize the warehouse's processes.

The results include a user-friendly Excel interface that uses CBC solver to devise optimal pallet placement for inventory, improved ergonomic shelving placement, and an optimized workflow that greatly reduces each employee's steps-per-task while cutting down on overlapping workflows.

To learn more about the group's design, see their prize-winning poster [PDF - 823kb].

NSERC Award for Excellence in Civil Engineering: Dartmouth Community Centre

Jahangir Adnan, Pouya Baradaran-Noveiri, Shanni Cyrus, Clinton Omwenyeke, Luis Orozco, and Marc Tarling

The Islamic Association of Nova Scotia (IANS) plans to expand their local presence in Dartmouth by opening a new community centre. Currently, the intended site of the new community centre is occupied by an existing structure that IANS would like to preserve.

Adnan et al. were given two tasks: to devise a plan for relocating and reinforcing the existing bungalow on the build site, and to design a two-storey mixed-use building for the new community centre (including the centre's space on the first floor and basement, as well as two residential units on the upper floor).

The results include a plan to move the existing bungalow, in one piece, to a new site in Bible Hill, Truro with a reinforced foundation to reduce consolidation potential, and an accessible, wood-and-steel framed design for the new community centre, all with an estimated cost below $1 million.

To learn more about the design and the plan to relocate the existing structure, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 1,675kb].

Shell Award for Excellence in Chemical and Process Engineering: Reduction of Carbonate Scaling in a Landfill Leachate Bioreactor

Parker Gosse, Omar Ismail, Niklas Majcher, and Matthew Williams

Before leachate runoff from a landfill can be sent to conventional wastewater treatment plants, organic matter must be removed by a dedicated bioreactor. Unsurprisingly, the process of removing organic matter from leachate often results in material buildup within the bioreactor, reducing its efficiency.

Gosse et al. were tasked with addressing a buildup of carbonate scaling on the internals of a landfill leachate bioreactor. As carbonate scaling accumulated on the components of the bioreactor, the bioreactor's functionality was reduced and it was unable to completely remove organic matter from leachate.

The group's solution implements a lime treatment system into the bioreactor process. This lime treatment reacts with the calcium carbonate, creating a solid precipitate that can be filtered out prior to the filtering of other organic matter and allowing the bioreactor to function as intended.

To learn more about the processes involved in fixing this leachate bioreactor, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 917kb].

Springboard Award for Excellence in Mineral Resource Engineering: Preliminary Economic Assessment of Porphyry Cu-Au-Moly Deposit, Dowager Island, British Columbia

Edwin Lau Lau, Ryley Schnare, Jitthen Kumar, Tanvir Rahman, and Wai Lung Chong

Locating a mineral deposit is only the first step in the process of establishing a mine site: before ground can be broken, the deposit needs to be assessed to determine its economic viability.

Lau Lau et al. were tasked with conducting a preliminary economic assessment of a potential copper-gold-moly deposit in Dowager Island, British Columbia. This assessment required them to interpret the size, shape, and grade of the mineralized zone.

Using a geological contour map and other data regarding the deposit's condition, the team determined that the potential mine would have a life of 75 years, with a payback period of 5 years. The group's work also saw the development of a project layout and schedule, including a reclamation plan.

To learn more about the process by which the economic viability of a potential mine site is assessed, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 1,293kb].

Shell Award for Excellence in Environmental Engineering: Incorporating Climate Change Adaptation into the Aboiteau Upgrade Design for an Agricultural Marsh

Lauren Fleet, Sascha Krizsan, Bryden Martinelli, and Christopher Ross

With the advancement of anthropogenic climate change, many scientists predict an increase in the frequency and intensity of storm events. This puts agricultural lands, particularly those that receive flood protection from dykelands, at heightened risk, and demands new designs to adapt to the changing climate.

Fleet et al. were tasked with designing an upgrade for an aboiteau (component of agricultural drainage systems) in Highland Village Marsh, which was identified as a high-priority infrastructure upgrade by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture due to its deteriorating condition and inherent capacity constraints.

Comparing three possible solutions, the group ultimately opted to recommend the complete replacement of the existing aboiteau. Though it comes with a higher upfront capital cost, this solution maximizes the discharge capacity and design life of the aboiteau, while minimizing its impact on the upstream ecosystem.

To learn more about the options considered and the decision-making system used to identify the optimal design, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 973kb].

Springboard Award for Excellence in Electrical and Computer Engineering: Development of an Electrostatic Nanoprinter

Abdullah Alhadlaq, Abdulrahman Aljebaidi, Mohammed Kassab, and Mohammed Nasser

Though it may sound like something out of science fiction, technology that operates, and even exists, at the nanoscale (ranging from 1 to 100 billionths of a metre) is one of the frontiers of contemporary research and development. One major restriction on the potential of nanotechnology is the difficulty and high expense of fabrication at the nanoscale.

Alhadlaq et al. were tasked with designing a printer capable of producing nanostructures on conductive surfaces. Working from documentation supplied by the client, the group's work would represent a step towards the client's goal of fusing bioprinting and nanoprinting to print nanostructures made of organic material.

The resulting design is capable of printing circuit lines at the nanoscale using less expensive technology than existing nanoprinters, while identifying methods of vertical distance calibration that expand the client's knowledge base.

To learn more about this project and the cutting-edge technology behind it, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 5,552kb].

Because cohorts of electrical and computer engineering students complete the Capstone project on different schedules, two awards for this discipline are given: one for the best completed project, and one for the best in-progress project. The electrostatic nanoprinter is the completed project.

Daxsonics Award for Excellence in Electrical and Computer Engineering: Improved Gain for a Brain-Computer Interface

David Hoar, Patrick MacIntyre, Daniel MacRae, and Brady Walsh

Brain-computer interface technology holds significant promise for many applications, including enabling individuals with spinal injuries to control mechanical limbs. As the technology is in its infancy, there are significant improvements to be made in general performance, such as by improving the clarity of electroencephalographic measurement.

Hoar et al. have been tasked with designing a prototype acquisition board with the same functionality as the current OpenBCI Cyton board, but with a gain of 1000, a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and improved wireless communication capabilities.

To date, the group has developed a prototype and begun proof-of-concept testing and computer simulation. To learn more about this in-progress project, see the group's award-winning poster [PDF - 663kb].

Because cohorts of electrical and computer engineering students complete the Capstone project on different schedules, two awards for this discipline are given: one for the best completed project, and one for the best in-progress project.