Author(s): Danny Nikolai Engineering Garrett Marler Engineering John Nelson Engineering Tanner Pursley Engineering Bret Rogers Engineering
Advisor(s): Robert Bittle Engineering
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 3
The manufacturing team for the Applied Avionics Inc. project focuses on fabrication and physical construction of the switch test machine. This involves use of Autodesk Inventor CAD software and collaboration with the TCU machining department to create various components in-house, as well as communication with third party suppliers for sourced components. The purpose of the layout group is system integration, which includes accounting for and mounting all controllers, power supplies, and wiring that is a part of the machine. This requires detailed planning in order to encompass all parts, allow for machine function, and maintenance of professional appearance.
In our project, image tracking was employed to provide a honing mechanism for a robotic "scorpion tail" attached to a small Remotely Controlled Vehicle. The car will be controlled wirelessly through a web interface, with mobile phones being the target user. Like the Mario Kart Versus Mode, where multiple cars drive and bump into each other, the vehicle will be controlled wirelessly while the "tail" is actively seeking targets and upon close proximity will "pop" the balloon. Each car will have 3-5 balloons to start, and the objective of the tournament will be to hunt down the remaining cars and “pop” their balloons, until all cars lose their balloons and the victor remains with at least one balloon intact. Python and Google Cloud were used to make a server with for the mobile website, and C++ was used to relay the commands sent wirelessly to the vehicle's two DC motors. Image tracking was implemented using the popular computer vision OpenCV library in python. The research will conclude with a tournament on Pi day (March 22, 2019).
Author(s): Chris Prasai Engineering Michael Chau Engineering Armando Romero Engineering Mike Tran Engineering
Advisor(s): Morgan Kiani Engineering
Location: Session: 2; 1st Floor; Table Number: 2
In our project, we aimed to design an autonomous rover similar to that of the popular Mars rovers such as Curiosity. Our rover employs a differential drive system with two continuous rotation servo motors that are controlled with the popular ROS robotic programming library in C++ and Python. A navigation algorithm employs the known position of the robot gathered from a magnetic encoder on the motors and the multiple optical range fidners placed around the vehicle to avoid obstacles on route to its destination. A camera is employed to detect target objects for simple pick-and-place tasks using its DC motorized gripper placed at the front of the vehicle. We have successfully built this vehicle and will demonstrate its capabilities at the 2019 IEEE R5 robotics competition in Lafayette, Louisiana as well as at the SRS presentation day.
A reconfigurable surface is a three-dimensional object that can be repeatedly configured by a user without the deformation of any individual component, usually involving the individual mobilization of unique pins. For this to be accomplished, a controlled system must be established for the movement of each individual component. Reconfigurable surfaces often use small motors to actuate desired components. The goal of this project is to replace the motors with magnetic fields produced by solenoids, which will hopefully prove to be more energy efficient and space-saving. To accomplish this, I have assessed multiple makes, models, and styles of solenoids in order to define which characteristics allow users the greatest control over the displacement of the individual pin components. Applying this data has allowed for me to create prototypes of solenoids, which will perform the best within the aforementioned design parameters.
Rotating Precision Mechanisms, Inc. (RPM) requested that TCU Senior Design update their current Laser Position Accuracy Test Set, which utilizes a laser to calibrate rotating pedestals. RPM positions this test system at a range of distances from a rotating mirror, passes a laser beam through an optical system to the rotating mirror, and measures the offset of the reflected laser dot in order to test the pointing accuracy and repeatability of their positioners. RPM requested that the redesigned test set deliver a reflected laser dot size within 0.125 inches when the test system is any distance between 10 and 100 feet from the rotating mirror. Our prototype for the redesigned Laser Position Accuracy Test Set relies on an optical component called a beam expander to cleanly extend the laser beam at the desired dot size over the specified range of distances. In order to design and manufacture this beam expander, our team researched optical collimators, beam expanders, and lenses in addition to using an Optical Ray Tracing software to model potential beam expander designs. After constructing and testing a working prototype, we completed several iterations in order to improve the resulting laser dot size. Finally, we compared our beam expander design to an Edmund Optics research grade beam expander to further quantify the success of our design.
Author(s): Seelay Tasmim Engineering Nelli Bodiford Chemistry & Biochemistry
Advisor(s): Tristan Tayag Engineering Jeff Coffer Chemistry & Biochemistry
Location: Session: 1; 1st Floor; Table Number: 5
Polymeric biomaterials are the most widely used materials in medicine today. This is due to their ability to better represent the natural tissue response as compared to other materials like metals. When polymeric biomaterials are used in applications such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine, they must be able to perform with an appropriate host response. For instance, they must have the same mechanical properties as that of the environment in which they will be used. Therefore, knowing the mechanical properties, such as Young’s Modulus, for these materials is important. Here we will present a simple and inexpensive method for measuring the mechanical properties of polymeric biomaterials. We will use samples of Polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable polymer which can be used as a long-term implantable matrix for controlled and targeted drug delivery, for testing. This method makes use of equipment that is readily available in most universities and research centers to cut samples of PCL material, with an average sheet thickness of 125µm, and generate their stress strain curves. The PCL samples were fabricated via the electrospinning technique with fiber diameter of ~4.5µm. Samples fabricated via this technique either have solid fibers or porous fibers with a pore size of ~0.5µm. To analyze the reliability of the method, the mechanical property results generated using this method were compared to mechanical properties presented in the literature for similar materials. We then used this method to characterize PCL samples based on fiber porosity and fiber orientation. The samples characterized were: Solid aligned PCL (S-A PCL) samples, where the solid fibers are all oriented in the same direction, solid randomly oriented PCL (S-R PCL) samples, where the solid fibers are oriented in random directions, and porous randomly oriented PCL (P-R PCL) samples, where porous fibers are oriented in random directions. Our data resulted in the S-A-PCL samples having the highest Young’s Modulus followed by S-R-PCL and P-R-PCL samples.
Author(s): Bao Thach Engineering Sam Adams Engineering Ben Krause Engineering Irene Kwihangana Engineering Chris Prasai Engineering
Advisor(s): Morgan Kiani Engineering
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 4
In our project, a control-theory based algorithm would be employed to develop a small electric vehicle that can self-navigate through an unknown course to arrive at the desired location while avoiding obstacles and walls. This project is an extension of our successful project funded last year, in which we were able to operate a partially autonomous car to run around a location and generate a virtual map. Our team expects to grant the car full autonomy like a self-driving car and let it travel through a relative abundance of places to create computer models of critical infrastructures without the help of humans. The success of this project will have a broad impact on society. First, this capability would be useful in self-driving cars, which allow drivers to spend their time more productively instead of driving to work or assist disabled people. Second, the car can generate a simulated model of places that help to analyze unknown locations. Finally, the project can surely create a platform for future TCU engineering students to learn about self-driving car technology and machine learning. This project is expected to succeed due to the achievements we gained from the previous project.
The algorithm will be written in Python/ROS, controlled by Raspberry Pi 3, and tested on a walled course constructed by us. It should be able to navigate a course without having already driven through it. Another special feature is that the car will also precisely arrive at a pre-determined location.
Flatfoot and cavus foot are postural issues that affect approximately 40% of people and can be corrected by means of orthotic inserts for shoes. A digitally reconfigurable mold is being developed as a tool for orthotists to visualize and fabricate orthotic inserts. The surface will be formed by an array of solenoid actuators controlled by the orthotist. The patient will stand on the reconfigurable surface while the orthotist evaluates the patient’s needs by manipulating the surface. Once the orthotist is satisfied with the array, the surface position will be held by a clutch system, so the patient can step off the surface and the surface positions can be recorded. This work describes my development of a prototype mechanical clutch for the digitally reconfigurable surface. The result of this project is a proof-of-concept design of an array of twenty-five physical clutch points which may be individually addressed by means of servo motors controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. With the development of this prototype, it is believed that such a control interface could be implemented on a system large enough for an adult human to stand on. This proof-of-concept is a small step in a larger project of developing a full-scale reconfigurable surface by which an orthotist could create posture correcting devices.
Author(s): Makenna Barbara Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Becky Johnson Environmental Sciences Becky Bittle Engineering Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 1; Basement; Table Number: 4
Urban Heat Islands (UHI) describe a phenomenon of increasing ambient temperature in densely built areas of cities as compared to rural areas. Impervious cover, ubiquitous in urban areas, appears to absorb solar radiation and reemit that radiation as heat. Urbanization and UHIs have impacts that range from local to global scales and can be found in cities of all sizes and climatic regions (Fernando 2013). This study focused on Tarrant County, Texas and analyzed changes in impervious surface cover and average monthly temperatures at four different NOAA weather monitoring stations over approximately 60 years in a search for urban heat island effect. Temperature analysis indicates an increase in temperature over the 60-year period. This study aims to determine whether that temperature increase is due to UHI.
The Urban Heat Island effect, or UHI, describes a phenomena involving heighted temperature indices in metropolitan areas when compared to surrounding rural landscapes. An increasingly relevant area of study following the advent of global warming, today, the associated “infernos” plaguing urban landscapes across the globe have the capacity to seep beyond concrete jungle walls, to reap havoc on once lush and vibrant vegetation and ecosystems. The following analysis combines an understanding of the Urban Heat Island effect with Remote Sensing technologies and Landsat Aerial Imagery to uncover the impact of urbanization in Seattle, Washington. With an emphasis on illustrating change over time, historical data surrounding imaging and climate trends further support this GIS analysis of vegetation in Seattle.
Is there a correlation between respiratory illness and mobile on-road sources of nitrogen oxide emissions, point sources of nitrogen oxide emissions, and minority or impoverished populations in North Central Texas? If so, where are the highest and lowest priority zones for the investment of zero emission vehicles and infrastructure?
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants classified as harmful to human health and the environment. Known as “criteria” air pollutants, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and Sulfur Dioxide are all regulated under the NAAQS in order to protect the health of the public and the health of sensitive/vulnerable populations. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, children, and the elderly. North Central Texas currently does not currently meet the NAAQS for Ozone (O3) and thus is required to develop a state implementation plan (SIP) to demonstrate how the region plans on reducing O3 levels in order to achieve attainment.
Tropospheric O3 is classified as a secondary air pollutant because it’s not directly emitted into the atmosphere. Instead, O3 is created via the chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.
Since the formation of O3 in the Troposphere relies on the concentration of NOx in the air, it is important to understand the different stationary and mobile emission sources in the Dallas-Fort Worth non-attainment area.
(Poster is private)
Bats are critical to their surrounding environment, thus we need to know what resources bats need to survive, such as water. Many available water resources in urban areas are ephemeral and dry up during the hot Texas summers. We explored bat resource use in an urban environment by radio-tracking bats in local Fort Worth parks, Foster Park and Overton Park. We used Lidar and 3D mapping in ArcGIS 10.6 to portray our study site where bats were tracked. Using digital elevation, we evaluated high elevation points in the parks that can be used in conducting future surveys.
(Poster is private)
Water resources are critical to areas experiencing urbanization and a rapidly increasing population. The depletion of these resources due to either human usage or environmental factors has the potential to lead to water scarcity in surrounding areas. A GIS analysis was conducted on Lake Mead near Las Vegas to assess the change in water level over time.
(Poster is private)
Healthcare deserts are an emerging problem in the United States, especially in rural areas. Individuals in these areas do not have access to adequate healthcare, and in most cases they are forced to travel long distances to receive the care they need. In the Permian Basin, this can be of concern for those working in the oil industry as well as their families. A GIS analysis was conducted to identify healthcare deserts in this area.
Monarch butterfly populations in North America have declined by approximately 80% over the last 20 years. Many contributing factors are responsible for this decline, however the loss of Milkweed has been identified as a major factor. Milkweed is the primary food source for Monarch caterpillars. A GIS analysis was performed to identify milkweed resources in the North Texas area.
Author(s): Sharra Kucera Environmental Sciences Michael Slattery Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Michael Slattery Environmental Sciences
Location: Session: 2; 1st Floor; Table Number: 1
Limited research has been conducted on the spatial and temporal linkages between the hydrology of prairie hillslope seeps, their associated headwater streams, and the vegetation and topography present within these unique ecosystems. The hydrology, varying soils, and distinct vegetation make these ecosystems important as they may function as wetlands. These seep systems differ from the more traditional forested hillslope seeps of the southeast: The prairie riparian zones with shallow soils are often dominated by annuals, and the ephemeral or intermittent nature of the hydrology present in the headwater streams restricts many tall grasses as soil moisture is too varied. This paper presents our work on the hydrologic regime of a central Texas prairie hillslope seep system by analyzing the spatio-temporal response of soil moisture and water potential to precipitation, runoff generation, and streamflow response. We also examine the vegetation-soil moisture association across the hillslopes and attendant seep systems. Preliminary results indicate that the micro-watersheds within these seep systems completely saturate during wet periods and stay saturated at the base of these slopes even during dryer conditions. They are, therefore, potentially important (if not the dominant) contributor to stream flow. The ultimate goal of this research is to document and quantify the hydrologic functioning of these seep system to determine whether they may act as ephemeral or intermittent wetlands. It may serve as supporting evidence for the improvement of habitat management and the protection or restoration of riparian headwaters, or wetlands.
Author(s): Amy Lam Environmental Sciences Olivia Jones Environmental Sciences Todd Longbottom Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Omar Harvey Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 1; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 8
(Poster is private)
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Americans generate on average 12600 tons (around a thousand school buses) of coffee grounds per day – which is most often landfilled. This typical waste stream represents a potential feedstock for developing carbon-based materials with applications across numerous disciplines. For example, initial research in Dr. Harvey’s Lab on spent coffee grounds, received from Avoca Coffee Roasters in Fort Worth, has shown that charring the grounds at 350 ℃ improved its Lead removal abilities. Our research will build upon this previous research by conducting more controlled studies to evaluate those earlier results and determine the optimal charring temperature for producing charcoals for water filtration applications. Since we had no control over how the previously donated coffee grounds were brewed by Avoca Coffee Roasters, we decided to design an experiment that will give us more control over the brewing process. The coffee beans were obtained from Avoca Coffee Roasters and brewed according to the Golden Ratio. We will also study the surface properties of charred coffee grounds produced at 350 ℃, 450 ℃, and 650 ℃ from Ethiopian and Mexican coffee grounds.
A GIS analysis was conducted to study the impacts of megaherbivores on the structure and spatial distribution of vegetation in Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa. The reserve was created in 1999 from 7,500 ha of agricultural land. Historical Landsat satellite imagery was analyzed and processed to examine the succession of vegetation as it progressed from an agricultural state to a more natural state. Megaherbivore GPS tracking data was mapped and analyzed for a period from(2011-2018) to examine their distribution and their impacts on landsover. Other factors such as elevation, slope and access to water were examined to determine how each factor influenced the distribution of the animals. It is hoped that these efforts will support management and conservation by identifying the resources used by the megaherbivores and identify any possible limitations that the Amakhala reserve might need to consider as a long-term conservation plan.
(Poster is private)
Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, are an invasive species of freshwater bivalves that have recently spread into bodies of water across North America. Zebra mussels inhabit the shallow waters of lakes and tightly attach to any and all hard surfaces. They are efficient filter feeders and can filter up to 1 L of water per day per mussel. This increases the clarity of water dramatically which alters the lake habitat for other lake species. In this analysis, water clarity data was mapped for “infested” lakes for the years 2008 (pre-zebra mussels), 2010 (one year after zebra mussel infestation), and 2016 (seven years after infestation). The average clarity of the lakes increased by 9.36%, with larger lake clarity increasing the most dramatically.
Habitat loss, disease, and land-use change has led to a sudden decline in bat populations in the US. Thus, there is a need to determine the extent of the impact before we can effectively implement counter-measures. One way to assess the impacts is to monitor areas with a high abundance and species diversity, such as Big Bend National Park with 25 of the U.S.’s 47 native bat species. We therefore assessed whether 1) acoustic monitoring at the park was a feasible technique and 2) if the diversity of species recorded and their activity patterns could contribute to national long-term monitoring.
In Big Bend National Park, data is being collected using acoustic monitoring to analyze the diversity of bat species and their activity patterns within the region. Big Bend National Park, located in Brewster County within the Trans-Pecos region of southern Texas, covers 800,000 acres and ~190 km of the Rio Grande river along its southern border. Elevation within the park ranges from 547 m to 2387 m. This elevation gradient creates a diverse matrix of bat habitats within the park. Using plant associations and elevation, five habitat types have also been identified; river floodplain-arroyo, shrub desert, sotol-grasslands, woodlands, and moist chisos woodlands (Higginbotham and Ammerman, 2002). A GIS analysis was conducted on the areas surrounding the acoustic monitoring stations to provide additional data on the elevation, water resources and habitat cover. All of this data was analyzed to provide additional information on the resources available to the bats and their relationship to the species diversity, relative abundance and seasonal activity patterns of bats.
A GIS and remote sensing analysis of Rwanda was conducted to analyze changes in land cover, urbanization, and croplands over time. Data mapping changes in major crops productivity throughout time was also analyzed and combined with information on elevation and soil conditions. All factors were analyzed to identify the location and suitability of soils for each major crop.
Nitrate contamination of groundwater in the Seymour Aquifer is a well-known issue that has been documented since the 1960's. Concentrations as high as 35 ppm NO3-N have been reported, which is a startling 3.5 times the EPA allowable standard for drinking water. While most water from the Seymour Aquifer is used for agricultural irrigation, a portion is still used for domestic purposes and therefore poses a risk to human health. While this problem may have been recognized, the specific source of this contamination remains unknown. Three potential sources of nitrate within the aquifer are being considered in this study—the geological makeup of the aquifer, the agricultural contribution of nitrate from fertilizers, and the historical land use change of the area above the aquifer.
My research will combine various statistical and geospatial technologies in order to 1) view nitrate contamination as a function of well depth and 2) Determine the temporal change in NO3-N concentrations over a distribution of well depth. Readily available groundwater quality data from the Texas Water Development Board will be used in conjunction with geospatial analysis and statistical analysis to identify well depth distribution and changes in the aquifer's water quality with respect to well depth over time. After a thorough analysis of the site area via the aforementioned methods and technologies, a portrait that depicts the both spatial and temporal changes of nitrate contamination in Texas's Seymour Aquifer ought to be painted.
Author(s): Jacob Portillo Environmental Sciences Kelby Caplinger Environmental Sciences Michaela Donahoo Geological Sciences Dorothy Gilliam Environmental Sciences Ella Hellessey Environmental Sciences Wyly Lincoln Environmental Sciences Aurore Manzi Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Omar Harvey Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 2; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 8
The long term effects of urbanization on soil properties in Fort Worth, Texas remain largely unknown, making future predictions of soil health and the development of environmentally beneficial practices difficult. The rapid expansion of the Fort Worth Metroplex begs the question of how can cities best prepare for or mitigate the effects of disturbance due to construction and constant lawn care. In order to understand how soil properties change with time after an initial disturbance, many different methods were implemented to quantify and qualify the different stages of post-urbanized recovery in order to find the trend the soils at the houses of varying age ranges took relative to the natural area. Overall, the soil properties trended towards recovery and the deviation from the natural park area decreased as the houses increased with age. The only variable that did not follow this trend was amount of organic matter at each site, which was determined to be affected uniquely by lawn care and the continued use and accumulation of nutrients from fertilizer applications. These results can be used to identify and understand the effects caused by future construction projects and possibly be used to establish more sustainable development in the DFW area.
Telemetry is an effective method for collecting movement data, however, transmitters have the potential to negatively impact the maneuverability and behavior of wildlife, particularly volant species. Despite concerns, no studies have assessed the potential effect of transmitters on bats. Thus, we conducted a behavioral study on evening bats (Nycticeius humeralis) in a controlled environment. We found that while there was not a decrease maneuverability, it did alter behavior. Bats flew 79.5% less with the transmitter attached. Furthermore, these impacts did not diminish over time (3 day period), which in turn could have consequences for telemetry survey data collection and interpretation.