Senior Design Projects

LeTourneau University Senior Design

At LeTourneau University, we implement engineering design and project-based learning throughout our entire curriculum.

During the senior year, engineering students participate in a year-long capstone project as part of a multi-disciplinary teams. These team projects embody the learn-by-doing philosophy LETU is known for.

LETU students complete a wide variety of projects that involve collegiate competition, applied research, industry skills and humanitarian service.


Senior Design Projects 2016-2017

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a contaminant frequently found in the flowback water that comes to the surface during the production phase of an oil or gas well. H2S is particular challenging contaminant due to the difficulty to measure it the water phase and the potential to volatilize to the gas phase where it can be lethal. Flowback water containing H2S is typically disposed of by deep well injection via a disposal well rather than treating for reuse, resulting in significant water loss. This senior design project is the continuation of two previous years of work in which a small scale treatment reactor was built that successfully reduced H2S concentration of synthetic flowback water by >80% as well as retrofitting an H2S gas sensor to measure H2S in the water phase. This year’s team will tasked with completing the project with construction of a laboratory scale system that utilizes the H2S sensor to optimize the treatment reactor performance and monitor outgoing water quality. This initial sensor-reactor system will be tested in the laboratory by treating a large quantity of synthetic flowback water at a known H2S concentration. Dependent upon successful trials, the sensor-reactor system will then be taken to a functioning disposal well for testing for treatment efficiency of flowback water containing H2S.

Disciplines: Civil, Electrical, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor:Dr Darryl Low

With the goal of making wheelchairs strong and inexpensive, sometimes ease-of-use has been compromised in developing countries. One part of making chairs easier to use is utilizing components that roll easier. Last year’s team built a rolling resistance measuring machine for measuring rolling resistance of wheelchair large wheels. This year the project will be to use that machine to characterize wheels for manufacturers from around the world. The design goal will be to adapt the machine to also measure rolling resistance of casters and use multiple measuring instruments. The team will be expected to publish their results in a nationally recognized journal or conference.

Disciplines: Biomedical, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Mr. Norm Reese

Samaritan’s Purse aims to follow Christ’s command to care for the world as the Samaritan cared for the hurting man whom others passed by. The organization sends teams to work in crisis areas throughout the world to provide food, medicine, and other assistance to people who are poor, sick, and suffering, all in the name of Christ. One frequent challenge for SP is trying to provide safe housing for people who have nowhere else to go in the wake of war or natural disasters. As a result, SP partnered with John Brown University several years ago to co-sponsor and support a yearly disaster shelter design competition, with the hope that excellent entries will lead to shelter designs that SP can implement in disaster situations. The SafeHome project will provide a shelter design entry in the 2017 competition. Past competitions have focused on designing shelters for progressing scenarios, such that the shelter design could be adapted from an emergency shelter, to a transitional shelter, and finally to a permanent shelter. (The 2017 specifications have not yet been published.) Design considerations have included accommodation requirements, wind and seismic resistance, living comfort, durability, cost and weight, transportation, manufacturing viability, and cultural considerations. Shelters have been judged based on a design report, team presentation, timed erection, size and weight requirements, wind loading test, seismic loading test, comfort considerations, overnight livability test, business case analysis, and evaluations of any other stipulations. Working on this project will require creativity and flexibility, competitive drive, a willingness to do some physical work, and a motivation to commit significant time and effort toward reaching others for Christ.

Disciplines: Civil, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Dittenber

This project aims to develop a prototype assistive device for transfemoral (above-knee) amputees. Transfemoral amputation significantly decreases the quality of daily activities due to the lost musculature controlling the knee and ankle joints. Commercially available microprocessor-controlled prosthetic knee joints may improve the biomechanical knee functions to a certain extent. However, they are expensive ($50,000-$70,000 per knee) and the cost may not be covered by health insurance. Also, they are unlikely available in under-resourced settings. The assistive device is to be inexpensive, and is to be attached to existing prosthetic legs to stabilize the knee joints and improve the quality of daily activities. Expansion of the device functionalities may also be considered. Students are expected to perform literature reviews, design, fabrication, and biomechanical evaluations.

Disciplines: Biomedical, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ko Sasaki

Fuller design, build and testing will be done on existing disaster energy production techniques to quantify the amount and efficiency of energy production and capture. The current solutions would benefit from a fuller engineering analysis and design. Subsequently, design, build and test will be completed on new/improved energy production and harvesting methods. A mapping of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs to post disaster conditions, results in recognition of the urgent need for food, water, warmth, energy, companionship/social connection, and esteem in a time when prior sources are fractured.

Disciplines: Electrical, Materials Joining, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Scott Anson

The focus of LSC is on the development of new structural product systems based on polymer composites. These systems will offer improved durability and performance compared with traditional options such as concrete, steel or wood. For several years the team has worked on the bridge deck systems using FRP composites and polymer concrete. As a result of this work, last year’s LSC team developed an improved polymer concrete formulation which significantly reduces material costs compared to earlier versions. This year’s team will investigate the application of this new formulation to structural beam systems and will evaluate resulting system performance (long and short-term), fabrication methodologies and cost. Work will include structural design, fabrication, short-term static testing, creep testing and materials characterization for both conventional concrete and the new FRP/polymer concrete systems.

Disciplines: Civil, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stephen Ayers

EWS is an ongoing project focused on the development of sustainable water technologies for remote villages in sub-Saharan Africa. Previous teams have successfully developed a low-cost, minimal equipment drilling method for borehole-style water wells to depths of 80ft. This year’s team will focus on two areas. Firstly there will be a focus on well commissioning and pumping after the initial borehole has been constructed. This work is essential for the establishment and long term operation of wells. The second focus will be on water purification utilizing a simple distillation system. This work will enable EWS to expand its operations in the area of drinking water supplies. Technology developed during the year will be evaluated during field tests in Senegal in May or June 2017.

Disciplines: Civil, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stephen Ayers

The primary goal of the LeTourneau Autonomous Robotics Competition (LARC) senior design team is to design and build a robot to compete in the 2017 IEEE Region 5 Robotics Competition This year’s competition challenges the sensing, navigating, learning and reading capabilities of an autonomous robot. The field is comprised of a top surface with obstacles, and the robot must detect an "underground" tunnel system to find and read an information cache. Scoring emphasizes rational search patterns, innovative sensing, computer vision, and accurate environment mapping. The LARC team will compete against other schools in IEEE Region 5 such as the University of New Orleans, Texas A & M, and many others.

Disciplines: Computer, Electrical, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joonwan Kim

The goal of this project is to design and prototype a card or system of cards that is small and light enough to be mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and is capable of generating and transmitting ADSB data compliant with RTCA DO-260B. The results of this project will greatly improve the ability of commercial aircraft and other ADS-B equipped vehicles to “see” UAVs, significantly decreasing the likelihood of mid-air collisions.

Disciplines: Computer, Electrical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joonwan Kim

Turner Control Systems currently has a controller device that was designed in the 60’s, but has been a dependable well working device. WAEVS team wants to develop a cheaper, smaller, and more configurable controller that can be used to control water pumps and electrically operated valves of various small rural water supply systems. The goal of this project is to design and prototype a controller module with analog inputs received from level and pressure sensors and discrete outputs which will be controlled by user-programmable thresholds. The module will be able to serve as an upgrade to a currently used water plant controller made by Turner Control Systems.

Disciplines: Computer, Electrical
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joonwan Kim

SAE international sponsors a Baja competition that requires designing and building a Baja vehicle that University teams take to at least one of three competitions. The Baja team will design the entire Baja vehicle with complete documentation in the fall semester. The Baja team will build the vehicle in the spring semester and take it to one of the three SAE competitions.

Disciplines: Electrical, Materials Joining, Mechanical
Faculty Advisor: Mr. Wes Downing

It will require an estimated additional 1,500 remote airfields worldwide in order to consider ‘the ends of the earth’ accessible to those few workers who intend to take the good news of the gospel there. Existing machines do very well on trees and brush, but cannot do anything with rocks greater than 1 inch. Thus, several different machines must be used in concert and purchased at a cost exceeding a minimum of a half million US dollars Or the task must be done by hand, which is VERY slow. Some 1000’ runway projects take years to complete or are never completed due to these difficulties. The RAIV project intends to conceptualize the specifics of a machine and a process to significantly aid in this task. Over several years, the project will design, fabricate, test, and deliver a functional machine and guidebook for remote runway emplacement.

Disciplines: Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, ETAS, MTAS
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jesse French

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P.O. Box 7333
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Partial funding through corporate partnerships and personal donations allows LETU senior design teams to invest in equipment and materials that they may not otherwise have access to.