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Training Global Engineers: A Capstone Senior Design Project in Energy Harvesting and Sustainability

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session


Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu, Ph. D. is Assistant Clinical Professor with Drexel University, Engineering Technology program. Her area of expertise is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels and plasma assisted combustion. She has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past 10 years she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in both quality control and quality assurance areas as well as in thermal-fluid, energy conversion and mechanical areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development. Dr Husanu developed laboratory activities for Measurement and Instrumentation course as well as for quality control undergraduate and graduate courses in ET Masters program. Also, she introduced the first experiential activity for Applied Mechanics courses. She is coordinator and advisor for capstone projects for Engineering Technology.

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Michael G. Mauk Drexel University

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Michael Mauk is Assistant Professor in Drexel University's Engineering Technology program.

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As the world of engineering becomes more global in character and practice, our instructional endeavors must follow suit and provide our graduates with the necessary skills to thrive in their career. Our task is to prepare students to be more effective in a global context as well as to be able to respond to today’s challenges, giving them the competencies deemed important or even essential for global engineering work. Training students to be able to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems that are of concern in todays economic, social and environmental framework is a tremendous task and involves much more than a traditional engineering curricula. Engineering programs across the nation, including our program in Engineering Technology, did incorporate courses in renewable energy, sustainability, and green manufacturing areas: this remarkably enhanced the competencies of our students. However, the overarching integration of the knowledge acquired throughout the program’s curricula is achieved through incorporating the capstone design component in undergraduate engineering education. The design experience develops the students’ lifelong learning skills, self-evaluations, self-discovery, and peer instruction in the design’s creation, critique, and justification, contributing to the creation of the global engineer of today’s world.

Combined with these pressing needs are the current global considerations to conserve natural energy resources and convert to more sustainable methods of power generation. This fortunate unique combination led to the development of a series of capstone projects in energy harvesting and renewable energy areas. One project though stands out, as it serves as a model of such interdisciplinary and integrated work. Under the authors supervision and advising, the students team developed a hybrid wind and solar powered outdoor (street) lighting kit, aimed to be mostly off-grid, eco-friendly, and eco-designed. This system is able to provide significant reductions in natural resource consumption and energy costs, it provides a flexible installation, and it represents a leap forward to becoming energy independent. The project was developed also under the guidance of the relevant departments of our local government. The system is aimed at retrofitting the existing street lighting poles and working in conjunction with current LED technology that is to be implemented to reduce the electricity demand. Students used an integrated approach of two vertical axis turbines (Darrieus and Savonius) and a photovoltaic (PV) panel, building a fully functional prototype, amenable to wireless monitoring and further improvements for increased efficiency. This unique combination proved to be able to provide 85% of the required operation power of a street-light. Combining the sustainable and relatively reliable nature of the power sources, the higher quality of light source, and the reduction in fossil fuel consumption achieved, the retrofit kit may provide a great leap forward towards a more sustainable society. The paper aims at presenting not only the students achievements in terms of the project technical aspects but mostly will focus on the lessons learned and on the instructional and educational aspects of developing this project, embedded into the engineering design experience. The paper concludes with an assessment of our current work including how our findings are inspiring creation of activities for further instructional uses.

Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N., & Mauk, M. G. (2016, June), Training Global Engineers: A Capstone Senior Design Project in Energy Harvesting and Sustainability Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27071

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