UTDesign Teams Extend Winning Ways at Conference Competitions

It’s getting to be a habit.

Winning, that is.

A UTDesign team from The University of Texas at Dallas won first place at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) in June, taking the top spot for the fourth consecutive time. Another UTDesign team took first place for the third time in a row at the national Capstone Design Conference in June also.

“When it comes to engineering design, UTD is what UCLA once was in basketball,” UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson said. “Congratulations to the juggernaut.”

UTDesign students in lab

From left: Joshua Torres, Joshua Chari, Colin Wyatt, Abdallah Awad, Rami Masoud and Collin Godfrey designed a wire chopper that won top honors at the ASME Student Manufacturing Design Competition.

MSEC is an annual forum for the scholarly exchange of advanced manufacturing research knowledge. Part of that conference is the ASME Student Manufacturing Design Competition, where members can present their solutions to a range of design problems, from everyday household tasks to groundbreaking space exploration. Undergraduate and graduate teams of students work on design projects and compete against each other.

“The University’s domination of the field is beginning to raise eyebrows,” said Dr. Todd Polk, UTDesign director for bioengineering and senior lecturer in bioengineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Winning these competitions elevates UTD on the collegiate stage.”

Joshua Chari, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May, led a team of six engineers to find a way to improve the production of the small pieces of wire used in ultra-high performance fiber-reinforced concrete. Their project, the Field Deployable Wire Chopper for Ultra High Performance Reinforced Concrete Fiber, was sponsored by Bailey Tool & Manufacturing in Lancaster, Texas.

“It was challenging at first because of the unknowns associated with a big project like this,” Chari said. “The project’s specifications made us wonder how we were going to meet their stated goals. But once we attended UTDesign classes, we gained the necessary skills.”

The Challenge

The high-tech concrete contains short metal fibers for reinforcement. Roughly half an inch long and finer than a human hair, the wires are as thin as cobwebs.

“If you touch it a little bit, it tangles. It’s a superfine wire. Getting it fed into the machine and having it behave properly was a big part of the challenge,” Chari said.

UTDesign students with faculty leaders

A UT Dallas capstone design team created an award-winning device that improves the health of hips in children with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease. From left: Brad Niese, Dr. Mikhail Samchukov and Megan Wassel of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children; team members Emmanuel Aykara, Jayant Kurvari, Shreyas Salvi, Basil Alias, Amreek Saini and Sarah Hassan; and Dr. Harry Kim of Scottish Rite Hospital.

Bailey Tool & Manufacturing needs to produce 14 million pieces of wire per yard of concrete. The problem was producing enough wire, while keeping the cutting blade sharp.

“The special sauce of the concrete is the steel fibers mixed in with the concrete aggregate. The wire looks like bits of chocolate chips mixed into cookie dough,” Chari said.

“Typically, after one day, the company had to replace all their blades, because they wore out so quickly. They asked us to find a way to increase the time between blade replacements. That’s what the project was all about,” he explained.

Dr. Robert Hart, clinical associate professor of mechanical engineering and a UTDesign director, said the company created an initial prototype, but it did not yield satisfactory results. “That’s when they approached UTDesign to find a better approach.”

Chari said team members wondered what would happen if they crushed the wire instead of cutting it. “We decided to simulate the crushing of the wire using a compression test. We put four wires on a plate. Then we used a rod and applied pressure. Sensors measured the required force at the breakage point. That allowed us to prove out this concept of crushing the wire.”

Denting the wire weakened it enough that it broke on its own, he said.

Capstone Program

At many universities, Capstone Design is a required course taken by engineers their senior year. Typically two semesters long, the course at UT Dallas is configured like a business, and sponsors are treated like customers. 

Be a UTDesign Sponsor

To sponsor a UTDesign team, contact Iram Hasan, director of corporate relations in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, at [email protected] or 972-883-3553.

“We treat students like engineers from day one,” said Polk, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at UT Dallas.

Every two years, the UTDesign capstone senior design teams participate in a national competition.

This year the capstone team won first place for an Internal Hip Distraction/Offloading Device, sponsored by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Biomedical engineering graduate Amreek Saini worked on the project.

“There is a rare childhood condition called Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease that affects the hip,” Saini said. “The ball of the femur begins to deteriorate. We came up with an internal device that separates the top of the femur from the socket at the hip, allowing for better healing and growth.”

The Winning Formula

“When we go to these competitions with other schools, the work that our students have done really stands out due to the level of engineering and impact,” Polk said.

Hart agreed: “UTDesign is a priority from the president down through the engineering school. You can see that in the facilities we’re given and the resources we’re given. The University has chosen to make this a priority.

“What I like about it is that it has value for the sponsoring company as well. It is very much a win-win. The students get a wonderful experience, and the companies benefit by what gets produced.”


UTDesign Teams

Project: Field Deployable Wire Chopper for Ultra High Performance Reinforced Concrete Fiber

Abdallah Awad
Joshua Chari
Collin Godfrey
Rami Masoud
Joshua Torres
Colin Wyatt
Note: All graduated in May with degrees in mechanical engineering.

Sponsor: Bailey Tool & Manufacturing
Engineering Director: Dr. Robert Hart
Technical Managers: Dr. Jim Hilkert and Dr. Todd Griffith


Project: Internal Hip Distraction/Offloading Device

Basil Alias
Emmanuel Aykara
Sarah Hassan
Jayant Kurvari
Amreek Saini
Shreyas Salvi
Note: Alias is a biomedical engineering senior. Hassan graduated in May with a degree in mechanical engineering. Aykara, Kurvari, Saini and Salvi graduated with biomedical engineering degrees.

Sponsor: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Engineering Director: Dr. Todd Polk
Technical Manager: Dr. Orlando Auciello

Media Contact: Melissa Cutler, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4319, [email protected], or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].