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Mechanical Engineering

The relevant projects are listed below. Alternatively, you can return to the main list of subject areas.

Please note: There are many overlapping aspects in the Chemical and Biological, Materials and Process, and Mechanical Engineering programmes.  Students should contact the academics of the various projects they are interested in. Note that it is possible to have design teams made up of students from different engineering programmes.

These pages are updated as new projects become available.  Please check back regularly.


Optimisation of microwave heating process of ready-made meals

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
A challenge with microwaveable meals is essentially to get uniform temperature distribution from spatially variable rates of heating. To a certain extent this can be achieved by strategic placement of the different food components, and potentially by customised packaging as well. The aim of this project would be to optimise the heating process for a selected frozen meal, using modelling and experimentation.

Supervisor:
James Carson

 

Assessing the performance of a building-integrated solar thermal collector

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
The University of Waikato has a range of solar panels whose performance needs to be assessed in order for improvements to be made.

Supervisor:
James Carson

 

Physical properties analogies

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Under certain conditions, transport properties of one type may be determined by analogy from another, more easily measured property (for example, mass transfer coefficients are often determined from heat transfer coefficients during drying processes via the Chilton-Colburn Analogy and vice versa). There are certain situations where the same may be true of physical properties. The aim of this project would be to investigate ways in which thermal conductivity could be determined by analogy with another physical property which is simpler to measure.

Supervisor:
James Carson

 

Measurement and prediction of bulk thermal contact in particulate materials

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
The contact area and contact resistance between particles has a significant impact on the effective thermal conductivity of the material (and, by analogy, many other physical properties as well). For regularly shaped, regularly packed materials, this quantity may be predicted from theoretical analyses; however, for irregular materials, it is much harder to predict. This issue poses the single greatest obstacle to improving the accuracy of thermal conductivity predictions in particulate materials. This project would investigate ways to define, measure and model the overall thermal contact in particulate materials.

Supervisor:
James Carson

 

Pneumatic separation of chestnut shells from the chestnut kernel

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
New Zealand chestnuts grow relatively large by comparison with Asian or American varieties and have the potential to be a lucrative crop. Unlike European and Asian chestnuts, their shell and pellicle are difficult to remove, which has led to the development of mechanical, abrasion shell removal devices. However, a significant number of chestnuts break during this process and are mixed with the shell. This project aims to look at separating chestnut fragments from the chestnut shells using pneumatics. This project would build on previous work by ENGG492 students.

Supervisor:
James Carson

 

Drag reduction on hydrophobic surfaces

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Michael Walmsley

 

Heat exchange network modelling

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Michael Walmsley

 

Modelling HRV systems in residential housing

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Michael Walmsley

 

EROI synergy of wind and hydro power

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Michael Walmsley

 

MVR integration into a Kraft pulp mill

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Michael Walmsley

 

WESMO - various research projects related to the car design and performance are available

Project type:
Research and Design

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Various research projects related to the car design and performance are available.

Supervisor:
Mark Lay, Graeme Glasgow & Mike Duke

 

Low Reynolds number swimmer

Project type:
Research and/or Design

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Moving through a fluid in a low-Reynolds number situation is difficult. A simple reciprocal motion, such as an opening-and-closing scallop shell, or a front-crawl leg-kick, will not achieve movement - any progress made on the first half of the cycle will be cancelled out on the second half. Instead, a motion that breaks time-reversal symmetry is required - e.g. a rotation (this is used by bacteria). In C.G.13 a tank of high-viscosity fluid gives an example of a low Reynolds number situation in the laboratory. For this project, you will design two 'swimmers' to go into this fluid - the first will use a reciprocal motion, the second one that breaks time-reversal symmetry. This will allow an illustration to students of the low Reynolds-number situation. This DESIGN and/or RESEARCH project is suitable for one or two students.

Supervisor:
Marcus Wilson

 

Robotic safety and 'cobotics' with depth imaging

Project type:
Design

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Using a time-of-flight depth camera and robotic arms, the students will develop a system to interpret a scene and perform basic tasks. E.g: Detect the presence of a person or other foreign object and stop the robot (safety), detect objects in a bin, and use the arm to move the objects from one bin to the next (this is a common problem in industrial automation), place a sheet of material, human interaction of tasks deemed too difficult for robotics, e.g. bolts, screws etc.

Supervisor:
Lee Streeter, Shen Hin Lim, Michael Cree & Mike Duke

 

Robotic navigation

Project type:
Design

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
The students will upgrade a "pioneer peoplebot" available at the University, to a new ARM based computer, building any mounts and adding any electronic interfaces required. The robot has sonar, bump sensors, and is interfaced with a time-of-flight camera. Using these sensors, the students will implement basic navigation and control. E.g. pre-path planning for mapping of laboratory space, obstacle avoidance.

Supervisor:
Lee Streeter, Shen Hin Lim, Michael Cree & Mike Duke

 

Optimisation of DSF machine 1

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
A dynamic sheet former was developed last year and requires optimisation to improve production of natural fibre sheet.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

Optimisation of DSF machine 2

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
A dynamic sheet former was developed last year and requires optimisation to improve production of natural fibre sheet.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

Bruising detection using ToF camera

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Time-of-flight cameras have been utilised in various applications and there's a big potential to detect bruising condition on fruits. This project will analyse the applicability of ToF camera for bruise detection of fruits.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

In-situ reinforced light metals

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Leandro Bolzoni

 

Oxidation of powder metallurgy Ti alloys

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Leandro Bolzoni

 

Understanding the heat transfer during sintering of titanium

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details.

Supervisor:
Leandro Bolzoni & James Carson

 

The use of tannalised timber in composites

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
To assess the use of tannalised timber in recycled plastic as a structural material. The aim is to reduce landfill waste and encapsulate toxins that would cause damage to the environment.

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

3D printing of Composites

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
3D printing is a technique that is rapidly developing, however, commonly stated limitations include the limitation of the available materials. This project aims to develop reinforced material for use on thermoplastic 3D printers to enable parts of higher structural integrity to be produced. This RESEARCH project can be adjusted to suit the number of students interested.

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

EVA/stone aggregate roading material

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
This is part of a collaboration with the Road science part of the Downer Group, to engineer roads with improved durability. You could contribute to less traffic jams by alleviating the need for such regular repair as is currently carried out. This is a RESEARCH project suitable for one student.

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

3D printing with recycled material

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
This project aims to improve the sustainability of 3D printing through use of recycled and bioderived materials. This is a RESEARCH project suitable for one student.

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

3D printing cellulose for high performance products

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
See supervisor for details

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

Production of an environmentally friendly weed trimmer line

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
If used as recommended, all weed trimmer line ends up distributed to the wider soil and water environment. As a fibrous polyamide, trimmer line contains plastic softeners which breakdown and enter watertables and the human foodchain* via plant and animal uptake and drinking water. Current global production is in excess of 20,000km. This project aims to produce a circular cross-section natural-source flexible line to mimic the properties of 3mm 'fibrous polyamide' weed trimmer line. Existing mechanical properties of synthetic line are sufficient.There is an ever-growing market for truly-sustainable products (and some willingness for a price premium) coupled with an awareness of the hazards synthetic chemicals entering the human and natural environment. This project has been identified and will be in conjunction with a NZ company* e.g. - Pinney etal. 2017. Second trimester amniotic fluid bisphenol-A concentration is associated with decreased birth weight in term infants. Reproductive Toxicology 67, 1-9."

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering

 

Bio-inspired mechanisms for changing stiffness

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Mimosa pudica, also known as "sensitive plant" or "touch me not" is a plant which responds to stimuli such as touch or shake by becoming flexible losing all its stiffness. In machines and structures, decreasing stiffness has the benefit of reducing force tarnsmission. One such mechanisms is currently under investigation for possible use in isolating structures from vertical seismic excitation. This project is to investigate new ways of achieving stiffness change if possible by understanding the behaviour of mimosa pudica.

Supervisor:
Ilanko Sinniah

 

Modelling constraints in postbuckling analsis of plates

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
This project is to investigate the use of positive and negative stiffness parameters in modelling inplane boundary conditions in postbuckling analysis of plates. Requires excellent mathematical and analytical skills and a good understanding of mechanics of materials.

Supervisor:
Ilanko Sinniah

 

Structural health monitoring

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
To test a hypothesis that the abrupt changes to the natural frequencies of a structure as a mass is roved across a crack can be used to locate cracks in a structure. Experimental and theoretical work.

Supervisor:
Ilanko Sinniah

 

How good is the vibrating barrier method for earthquake protection?

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
A recent publication in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A proposes a vibrating barrier method for protecting buildings from earthquakes. It is available at: http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/471/2179/20150075 This project is to critically study the proposed idea, its potential use and if possible evaluate its feasibility.

Supervisor:
Ilanko Sinniah

 

Investigation of friction welding joint strength

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
This project is to examine the joint strength for various joint conditions between a tube and a plate using a friction welding approach. The friction welding process is performed on a milling machine with various process parameters. Mechanical property tests will be carried out to investigate the effects of these parameters on the outcomes.This RESEARCH project is suitable for one student.

Supervisor:
CK Au

 

Push recovery of a humanoid robot

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Design and implement a recovery strategy and algorithm on a small humanoid robot so that it can earn back its balance when external forces are applied on it. This RESEARCH project is suitable for one student.

Supervisor:
CK Au

 

Investigation of anthropomorphism for thumb configurations

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Use matlab to investigate the anthropomorphism of various thumb configuration in various hand model.

Supervisor:
CK Au

 

NIARC 2017 - various research projects related to autonomous robots

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Projects related to Kalman filter algorithm, SLAM and sensor fusion.

Supervisor:
CK Au

 

Microstructure and properties analysis of the microwave-sintered and extruded Ti-5553 alloy

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Ti-5553 (Ti-5Al-5V-5Mo-3Cr, wt.%) alloy is a recently developed near titanium alloy, with good ductility and high strength. It has a great potential to replace Ti-10-2-3 alloy in almost all the aerospace applications, and recently it has been provided to use for making landing gear in Boeing 787 aircraft. In this project, the student will investigate the microstructure and properties of Ti-5553 alloy prepared by microwave-sintering and extrusion from blended elemental powder mixtures at different conditions, to build the processing-microstructure-property relationship for Ti-5553 alloy. This RESEARCH project is suitable for one or two students.

Supervisor:
Fei Yang

 

Optimising and understanding the TPC process

Project type:
Research

Updated:
30/01/2018

Project description:
Thermomechanical process is a potential method to rapidly and cost-effectively produce titanium alloy parts for engineering application from powder. The student will be expected to optimise the process, produce high-quality titanium alloy and understand the affecting factors. This research project suits to one student.

Supervisor:
Fei Yang

 

Distillation column design.

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
A modular glass distillation column exists within the School of Engineering. However, this column is not currently operational as the boiler was under sized and most of the instrumentation is missing. This design project is aimed at retrospectively redesigning the distillation column to separate methanol and water. The column needs to be well instrumented and the design and operation verified. This project has the potential to involve 2-3 students, at least one from CABE/MAPE and potentially either a mechanical or electronics student.

Supervisor:
Johan Verbeek

 

Lavendar oil distiller

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
Lavender Backyard Garden want a protoype machine that will produce lavender oil from the plant. https://www.lavenderbackyard.co.nz/ This project is suitable for 3 students.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

Robotic Asparagus Harvester

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
Design and build a test rig for a robotic asparagus harvester. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

Sorting Asparagus

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
Sorting machine for robotically harvested asparagus. This project is suitable for 3 students.

Supervisor:
Shen Hin Lim

 

Vacuum Formed ice box

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
Design and build an ice box made from vac forming rather than rotational molding for a lighter, cheaper product.. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Aerial Planting

Project type:
Research

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
Aerial planting of Radiata pine seeds encpasulated in Novatien (bloodmeal plastic). This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Root Trimming

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
ArborGen have a very dangerous hand operated method for trimming the roots of pine seedlings at their nursery. The objective is to design and build a safer, faster, reliable machine. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Crop Sprayer

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
ArborGen want to replace their herbicide crop sprayer with a an automated targeted system. The objective is to design and build a basic prototype that could be trialled by the company. This project is suitable for 3 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Motor Rig

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
A motor rig is required for a new paper running in 2019. The objective is to design and build a rig that students can use. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Gear Rig

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
A gears rig is required for a new paper running in 2019. The objective is to design and build a rig that students can use. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Power transmission Rig

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
A power transmission rig is required for a new paper running in 2019. The objective is to design and build a rig that students can use. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Coupling Rig

Project type:
Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
A couplings rig is required for a new paper running in 2019. The objective is to design and build a rig that students can use. This project is suitable for 2 students.

Supervisor:
M Duke

 

Solotec Kayak Loader Mark 2

Project type:
Research and Design

Updated:
7/02/2018

Project description:
The Solotec Kayak Loader Mark 1 is a product that allows for easy loading of the heaviest sea kayaks onto a car roof-rack. It has at this stage completed design, prototyping, testing, market acceptability and target market viability studies. The product is constructed from extruded aluminium and injection moulded recyclable plastic - 30% glass-filled polypropylene and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). As an environmentally aware company, Solotec have a desire to move away from the use of aluminium and plastic due to the environmental cost of extraction, production and recycling and would like to explore the use of natural, biodegradable and/or recycling materials that can be grown and manufactured in NZ alongside improved overall design. Solotec would also be keen to explore collaborating with the Science and Engineering and Business schools to work up a proposal for industry funding to take an innovative product such as this to market.

Supervisor:
Kim Pickering