Asee peer logo

Board 34: Design and Prototyping of two different Mechanical Testing Instruments

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Anu Osta Rowan University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr Anu Osta is a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering Department at Rowan University. His teaching interests are Engineering Mechanics and Materials Science.

visit author page


Jennifer Kadlowec Rowan University

visit author page

Jennifer Kadlowec is Professor and Undergraduate Program Chair of Mechanical Engineering in the Henry M. Rowan of College of Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She has been an active member of ASEE since 1998. She joined as a graduate student, after working on an engineering education project and presenting that work and student chapter activities at annual conference. As a faculty member, she regularly publishes and presents at the ASEE Annual Conference. Her interests are in design education and assessment in mechanical and biomedical engineering. She previously served ASEE in leadership roles in the ERM and Mechanics Divisions and as a PIC-III Chair.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The modern human society is largely being faced with complex engineering challenges that are not confined to any particular engineering or science discipline. These sheer scale of these problems require innovative solutions with a multidisciplinary approach which draws on various concepts and knowledge base in an iterative process. The Engineering program at this midsized South Jersey University has adopted a new paradigm in teaching laboratory based engineering courses. It is a design infused, multidisciplinary, eight-semester sequence of courses in the College of Engineering. Inter/multi-disciplinary student teams engage in laboratory hands on activities focused on solving real world problems related to automation, additive manufacturing, embedded systems, renewable energy, artificial intelligence and biomedical technology to name a few. The aim is to prepare the students for highly evolving, competitive marketplaces. It also serves as an excellent testbed for conceptualizing and iterating engineering innovation and research. This paper will discuss two projects where such a multidisciplinary group of students teamed up to develop prototypes of testing instruments. Project 1 involved designing a pharmaceutical vial seal force tester in collaboration with a local equipment manufacturing company. Seal force is the integrity of the sealing quality of the rubber stoppers that cap the pharmaceutical drug vials. The usual process of testing it is by performing a compressive test. The entire prototyping was accomplished in various phases. First was the design phase where a small scale mockup of the basic operating principle was developed following CAD design. Based on the feasibility stress-strain studies we progressed to a first version prototype. This involved integrating a PLC module, a dual mode load cell, power supply, linear actuator stage with a stepper motor, data acquisition using a desktop module and an encoder to read the displacements. The programming was done using RsLogix5000 which is a ladder logic type coding. The entire task was distributed between mechanical and electrical engineering students. Tests from the prototype matched closely to the actual values obtained from similar testing devices or even the industrial data. Project 2 was an independent undertaking which was conducted over a period of 2 semesters during which the student-faculty team conceived and developed an idea for marketing a low cost mechanical testing equipment. The idea was to build a tensile, compressive tester using off the shelf component, keeping the selling price below $2500 per piece. The end users were initially targeted to be academic institutions and low strength material testing industrial customers. This device prototyping followed a similar process but with different modular components. The components were a linear stepper motor actuator, an Arduino and a raspberry-pi microcontroller, custom fabricated electronics which were very basic. The initial results were encouraging too. Mechanical and Electrical engineering students teamed up for this project as well. The paper will describe the device development process, the team work approach undertaken by the multidisciplinary team, the challenges faced and strategies developed to overcome them. It will describe the learning experiences as well.

Osta, A., & Kadlowec, J. (2019, June), Board 34: Design and Prototyping of two different Mechanical Testing Instruments Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32327

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015