Engineering Design Day Marquee


Each year, engineering seniors present their capstone and compete for $35K in prizes. See behind-the-scenes action and team stories below leading up to the April 30th showcase.

Team: Microfluidic-Based System for Mimicking Human Organs

Project Goal: To develop a lung-on-a-chip that mimics the blood-gas exchange in human lungs to advance personalized medicine and possibly end animal testing. 

What if there was an organ-imitating device that could help us see how behaviors like smoking e-cigarettes affect the lungs? Or provide a way to test out new treatments on human cells instead of on animals?

During her freshman year, Meagan began investigating this idea with her professor, around the same time she teamed up with Victor on a solar oven class project. The two of them brought a few of their classmates together to continue the work and develop a prototype with Meagan’s professor Dr. Zohar, the team’s mentor.

We are a group of six. Half of us work on the mechanics (the gas and fabrication) and the other half work on growing and taking care of the cell. — Meagan Tran

Once the engineers have a mold, each silicone “chip” would cost less than a dollar to produce. Further down the line, the device could also have applications in personalized medicine, allowing a specific person’s cells to try out treatments in the system.

Team Members:
Meagan Tran, biomedical engineering
Victor Estrada, mechanical engineering
Fernando Albelo, biomedical engineering
Bailey Bellaire, biomedical engineering
Apoorva Bhaskara, biomedical engineering
Adolfo Herrera, mechanical engineering
Team mentor: Yitshak Zohar, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of the Integrated Microsystem Laboratory

engineering photo 1

Victor makes final adjustments to the lung simulator.

team 1 photo 2

The students layer the cells onto a clear silicone mold with a semipermeable membrane in between.

team 1 photo 3

Then they expose the epithelial layer to gas flow and the endothelial layer to liquid flow.

The team set up a simulation of how the human lung operates to offer a better representation of their design to the crowd and judges.

The team turns on the air compressor and makes some minor alterations to the setup. 

The team explains engages with the crowd of onlookers. Explaining the basics of their design.

Team: Mobile Residential Refuse Container Cleaning System

Project Goal: Design an automatic wash-dry cycle that leaves roadside bins fresh, fragrant and free from public health dangers or critter infestations.

Residue inside roadside trash containers attracts flies and other disease-spreading vectors. The team created a system that attaches to the back of a garbage truck. When the truck lifts a trash bin, the system is inserted into the emptied container and power-washes the inside and outside of the can.

It was cool seeing it go from chicken scratch to a real product.—Kassandra Bracamonte

They first began by brainstorming real problems they could try to solve. As they continued talking, many had similar ideas that when combined, turned into this product. Throughout the year as they worked together, the team had its ups and downs — from working with different personalities on the team to the logistics of ordering parts. But they all agree this was one of the coolest experiences they had while at Arizona.

It made me feel like I can do anything; I am invincible.—Melissa Elkadi

Team Members:
Joseph Y Chang, environmental engineering
Melissa Elkadi, engineering management/electrical engineering minor
Andrew Cervantes, mechanical engineering
Kassandra Bracamonte, mechanical engineering
Tess Degginger, biosystems engineering

self-washing trash bin system

Inside the system, a rotary device distributes hot pressurized water about the can’s interior.

residue inside residential trash bins

Residue inside a typical residential trash bin.

before and after trash bins

Before and after: The process that cleans the can exterior was designed to contain all water within the system while maximizing the contact between the water and the can walls.

Design Day! The team sets up...

...and makes some last adjustments.

The team answers questions and show how their product works.

Team: Mobile Propellant Densification Unit for Orbital Class Launch Vehicle 

Project Goal: To develop a compact, mobile system that keeps fuel in space vehicles cool before launch.

It takes a lot to keep the fuel in space vehicles cool even before launch, simply from being in a conductive vehicle beneath the hot sun. Vector Launch, Inc.  a Tucson, AZ startup looking to keep flight costs down by constructing smaller vehicles — asked Arizona engineering students to solve this problem.  

We were tasked with creating a device to cool the propellant, or the fuel to the rocket, and keep it at a steady temperature over the time that it sits on the launch pad. — Yulian Chulovskiy

Currently, only large stationary cooling systems exist. This would be one of, if not the first, system able to be hauled across the country for launches throughout the year. The team has developed a scale model system to cool rocket fuel and cool it quickly and maintain sub-zero temperatures the entire time it’s on the launchpad.


Team Members:
Jack Christman, electrical and computer engineering, computer science
Matt Kingzett, chemical engineering
Yulian Chulovskiy, chemical and systems engineering
Benito Pimienta, mechanical engineering
David Montgomery, mechanical engineering
Shandi Spencer, systems engineering
Team mentor: Doug May, lecturer, engineering

team 2 photos

The fuel pumped into the rocket will run through the mobile cooling system.

team 2 photos 2

The system has the capacity to run for about 3 hours at a time.

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While the finalized system would use liquid nitrogen to keep the fuel for a 42-foot vehicle cool, the model system uses ice water to keep lukewarm water cool for a 17-foot model vehicle.

Shandi Spencer screws in the standoffs for the circuits.


On Design Day, Benito Pimienta converses with the judges, explaining the team's design in full detail.

Jack points out the data from the prototype being displayed on the computer screen.

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