N.C. A&T College of Engineering Seniors Receive Sandia National Laboratory Senior Design Bonanza Award

By Alexander Saunders / 06/03/2020 College of Engineering

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 3, 2020) – Graduating mechanical engineering students from the College of Engineering (COE) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University achieved distinction for developing the ‘most innovative design’ at the 2019-2020 Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Senior Design Bonanza. This is the third year of competition and second in which N.C. A&T participated.

The mechanical engineering two-semester senior design capstone project actively solicits industry and government entities to bring to the COE real world problems that require solutions. This academic year, SNL challenged teams to design a Flight Accelerometer Switch integrated with data acquisition, processing and communication systems, and able to fit within the volume of an egg. The switch, no bigger than a quarter of the size of a penny, must detect flight information, such as acceleration, velocity and temperature and relay that data real-time to a ground control station.

“When we compete against other universities and we win, it really demonstrates how well we have trained our students,” said Mookesh Dhanasar, Ph.D., a mechanical engineering lecturer and senior design project coordinator. 

A victory also demonstrates to the industry sponsor and others that A&T is a great investment for their research and applied projects.

“We hope this capstone project becomes the tip of the iceberg for increasing Sandia’s investment in higher research at A&T,” said Dhanasar. “We encourage companies to become more involved in our university and to discover faculty research project opportunities and event programs.”

The coronavirus pandemic impacted this year’s competition. However, “Aggie Switch” was the only team whose project was advanced enough in its design process to conduct a test flight of the device attached to a rocket, before in-person team collaborations were no longer feasible. This is a remarkable feat considering the group consisted of all mechanical engineering students and the competition required a collection of interdisciplinary skillsets, including electrical engineering and computer science, in order to succeed. The students were challenged and outside of their comfort zones but still learned, adapted, grew through the process and delivered a working prototype.

N.C. A&T participated in this year’s competition alongside University of Georgia, The University of Texas at Austin, Rochester Institute of Technology, Howard University and CU Boulder.

Media Contact Information: uncomm@ncat.edu

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