Ryan Nieves chose to attend UM-Dearborn because of the strong engineering program. He knew the education would prepare and connect him with job opportunities.
But what the mechanical engineering senior got went beyond that—he now sees how his interest in the field can have an international effect.
Nieves, through his College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) Senior Design Day experience, is a part of a group working on a water pumping and filtration system for Nigerian villages. Their project was called, “Solar Powered Water Pumping and Purification System.”
Senior Design Day, which took place last month in the CECS Institute for Advanced Vehicle Systems facility, had nearly 50 student projects showcasing the education the students had gained during their time on campus through poster presentations. Projects ranged from wearable evaporative and cooling devices to adjustable stair-compatible walkers for adults.
Nieves said all groups put in a large amount of effort and time. And his was no different.
His team researched, designed and tested filtration systems, and then looked for the best and most cost effective product—a tank with a biolayer filter of sand containing microbes and good bacteria—for the villages.
“Not only did we use engineering techniques, the project has also taught us the importance of communication and partnership, ” said Nieves, whose team also created an instruction manual on how to build the system. “Senior Design Day showed me it’s not about books anymore. It’s ideas, meetings, working with people. It transitions us from the classroom to the field.”
And for their work, the team of mechanical engineer majors was given a Senior Design Day first place award. In addition to Nieves, team members were M. Shariff Diab, Chad Hanson and Marcus McSweeney.
To assist his team’s Senior Design Day project, Nieves’ group received grant monies from the Ford College Community Challenge through the Ford Motor Company Fund. Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Wencong Su submitted the proposal for the Ford C3 grant with the idea from Ajao Adetokunbo, a graduate student from Nigeria.
Mechanical engineering Associate Professor Dewey Jung, who advised Nieves’ group, said he’s thankful for the grant to support student projects that promote sustainable communities.
Students—Jung’s mechanical engineering team and students in other CECS disciplines like electrical engineering and bioengineering—are looking at ways for the villages, which do not have access to reliable electricity, to have a safe water supply.
“It is a college-wide project, and this Senior Design Team is looking at how to get the water from the ground to the surface and figuring out how to optimize filter design for the recognized flow rate,” Jung said. “These problems are related to what they have learned about fluid mechanics in class. That’s a key goal of Senior Design Day: To apply what they’ve learned in class to a real engineering project.”
Nieves said they are at the testing phase for their water pumping and filtration system. And he’ll be on campus this summer to complete the project.
He’s proud to have worked on something that will make a difference to so many. And it has enhanced the way he’s viewed his field.
“You go into engineering to solve problems. That’s what it is about. But I didn’t think about something like this—something we take for granted. I’m helping create a system that will mean so much to people and that feels absolutely amazing,” he said. “Amazing that not only was I given the opportunity to do a project like this, but also that my education has given me to ability to do it.”
2017 CECS Senior Design Project winners
Friend or Foe Fitness – Mobile App, Computer and Information Science (CIS)
John Calhoun, Abdullah Al Busaidi, Jeff Wright, Ammar Monssar
FMCW Phased Array Radar, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Jean-Carl Borg, Brandon Fedoruk, Brad Mahoney, Bryan Sandoval
La-Z-Boy Multimodel Arm Fixture, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE)
Connor Winton, David Nikolits, Keith Cardillo, Jenna Tully
Solar Powered Water Pumping and Purification System, Mechanical Engineering (ME)
M Shariff Diab, Marcus McSweeney, Ryan Nieves, Chad Hanson
2nd Place College Wide Awards
Alexandra Alioto, Jake Kuznicki, Michael Gutterman, Omar Elshaikh, Aaron Garnett
Redesign and Automation of a Work Cell, IMSE
Cecilia Deboever, Karen Ramos, Katrina Hunt, Shichao Mu
Wearable Evaporative Cooling Device, ME
Scott Grishaber, Joseph Epley, Kyle Kantebet, Phillip Crook
Easily Adjustable, Stair Compatible Walker, ME
Geno Phillips, Josh Kiefer, Michael Natzel, Hunter Rimatzki
CECS Alumni Affiliate Innovation Award
Trip Out – Mobile App, CIS
Michael Battistone, Wesam Mohamed, Abed Daher, Max Petretta