UTDesign Team Extends Jonsson School’s Reign at ASME Competition
Mechanical engineering students (from left) Ben Gravell, Bonnie Billings, Jamie Gravell, Savannah Mars, João Pereira and Abin Abraham, with Dr. Mark W. Spong (right), dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, won the design competition at the ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference.
For the third consecutive year, a mechanical engineering team from The University of Texas at Dallas earned first place at the ASME Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference Student Design Competition.
The UT Dallas group designed and constructed a robot to replace a manual component-placement process used in the assembly of radar devices produced by Raytheon.
The six-member team — consisting of Jamie Gravell, Abin Abraham, Bonnie Billings, Ben Gravell, Savannah Mars and João Pereira — created a system that cuts average cycle time for the replacement process in half while saving Raytheon an estimated $100,000 per year in labor and component costs once fully implemented.
“It was awesome seeing this idea we’d developed conceptually in our minds gradually come into existence,” Jamie Gravell said, “first as a design on paper, then computer modeling, then as a real-life prototype.”
Of the 19 entries in the competition, eight finalists were chosen to do a 15-minute presentation at the conference in Los Angeles. For its victory, the UT Dallas group earned a $1,000 cash award.
Dr. Robert Hart is one of four UTDesign directors overseeing the program. He represents the mechanical engineering department in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
“It was great to see this team carry on the tradition of first-place awards in this highly competitive national competition,” Hart said. “The accomplishments of this team and this project exemplify the many outstanding students and great capstone projects completed every year.”
Dr. Joon Park, principal process engineer at Raytheon, served as the team’s mentor.
With less than $2,000 in funding, the team built a robot to replace a manual component-placement process used in the assembly of radar devices produced by Raytheon.
“They came up with several ideas, experimented with them, and built a prototype to fulfill all requirements,” Park said. “They satisfied all initial specifications and exceeded our expectation by building a complete working robot with less than $2,000 funding. I enjoyed mentoring them so much. I did not know that it would be this fun and exciting.”
Developing a device to solve the problem posed by Raytheon was the team's UTDesign senior capstone design project. Each engineering and computer science senior at UT Dallas is required to participate in a team-oriented capstone project. Through the UTDesign program, companies sponsor projects and mentor students throughout the process, giving them hands-on work experience.
The team worked closely with faculty advisor Dr. Terry Baughn, who guided the students through the process of solving an engineering problem for a customer — in this case, Raytheon.
“The UTDesign program teaches the students how difficult it is to go from a design to a product — and a product that works,” Baughn said.
Baughn, who retired from Raytheon four years ago, helped the students adapt to the relationship dynamic of real-world work.
“How do they treat Raytheon, what does Raytheon expect, how should they approach this company — it sounds simple, but they don’t have any experience with it yet,” Baughn said.
Jamie Gravell said the task itself motivated the team.
“Working with an industry partner and solving a real-world problem gives us a tremendous advantage at such a competition,” she said. “It’s also what made it so interesting and what drove us throughout the project.”
Baughn emphasized the integral role played by UTDesign’s corporate partners.
“Raytheon not only gives us the project, they also give one of their engineers’ time to come here and work with the students,” Baughn said. “We need to give a lot of thanks and appreciation to our corporate allies.”
At least three of the graduating team members have taken industry positions: Ben Gravell and Abraham at Lockheed-Martin offices; and Mars at Raytheon. Meanwhile, Jamie Gravell is returning to UT Dallas to work on her PhD.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].