Showcase, final presentation, and wrapping up

The team traveled to Houston on Monday to participate in the semester’s TSGC Design Challenge Showcase at South Shore Harbor in League City, TX. The event was amazing! We were all very impressed with the amount of thought and work that Debbie and the TSGC crew put in to make the day awesome. From binders with all the teams’ info to our team patches made into buttons, to gift bags with some TSGC swag, they thought of absolutely everything.

The day started with a poster session, where all the teams had poster and prototype displays that the judges could stroll around and look at. We all stood by our poster to discuss our project with the Showcase attendees and answer any questions about our design.

Next up was the presentation portion of the day. We presented an abbreviated (15 minute) version of our final presentation, followed by a five minute Q&A session. The judges had some very insightful questions, and overall our presentation was very effective and glitch-free!

After lunch and a few more presentations came the awards ceremony, and we were thrilled with our success! In addition 1st Place Design Team (1st semester), 1st Place Paper Submission, and 1st Place Showcase Presentation, the team came away with ten other awards recognizing our hard work over the course of the semester. Not only were the accolades appreciated, but each came with a small scholarship which really added up!

The next day way presented to our professor and classmates here at UT, and the presentation went equally as smoothly. It was great to have the Showcase presentation the day before, since it was a good dry run for our presentation on Tuesday that actually counts for our grade!

Now all that’s left before graduation is the Final Report, which the team has already begun compiling. It’s been an exciting and edifying semester, and we’d like to thank everyone involved in our project who made it great: Dr. Crawford, Travis McEvoy, Dr. Seepersad, Debbie Mullins, and last but not least our sponsor, Robert Trevino. We hope that other design teams and NASA can use our work in the future to advance manned spaceflight, and we are happy to have contributed to the future of space exploration. Thank you also to those of you who kept up with this blog with our (approximately) weekly updates! And with that, it’s goodbye from the Litter Mermaids.

Houston, we’re signing off. Over and out.

Currently listening to: “The Final Countdownby Europe.

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Prototyping and Finalizing Presentation

Hey, fans and followers of the Litter Mermaids!

We just received our 1/6 scaled prototype from the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) lab here on the first floor of the ME building at UT. We’re really excited that it turned out so well and we can’t wait to show it off at the Design Showcase on Monday!

Sam and Adam acting like proud parents with the SLS prototyped litter

The SLS machine was not able to produce the relatively thin and fragile textile back support, so the team will fabricate one by hand during the next few days.

The SLS prototype of the litter in the deployed configuration.

The team has also been hard at work finalizing their PowerPoint slides for next week’s presentations at the Design Challenge and for the UT ME Senior Design Projects Program. We’re a little nervous but overall very excited to be so close to the culmination of our semesters’ (and entire college careers’, yikes…) work. We’ve got a fair amount of work to get done in the next few days, so stay tuned to see how it all turns out!

Current Song: “Howlin’ at the Moon” by Hank Williams

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Design Finalization

The team is currently engaged in the process of solid modeling, calculating, and researching in order to finalize the geometry, materials, and dimensions of the final rescue litter. Calculations were conducted to determine the necessary size of our litter’s hinge, and finite element analysis to find the minimum base thickness is pending. Here are some screenshots of the solid model parts and assemblies being developed:

Tether Attach Point

Outer Hinge Part

Litter Assembly

We’ll be finishing our Showcase poster and our PowerPoint presentation by the end of this week, so we can spend next week practicing presenting. Also in progress is the Selective Laser Sintering scale prototype of our model. After the Showcase and our UT class presentation, all that stands between us and graduation is the Final Report!

Currently listening to: Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie

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Presentation at Tau Beta Pi Meeting

After volunteering at Space Day, that evening the team gave a presentation on their senior design work for the Texas Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. The 15-minute presentation gave the audience of 75 UT engineering students information on what it really meant to be in senior design, details on our specific project with NASA, as well as advice on getting through your last semester in one piece.


Jason gives background information into the team's project with NASA

Adam and Jason listen as Sam answers an audience member's question about being in senior design.

The presentation was lighthearted and gave the mainly sophomore and junior student audience a great snapshot into what to expect from a typical senior design project. Sam’s advice: “If you want to get outvoted on everything, try picking twins as your senior design teammates.”

Current song: “I Wish I was the Moon” by Neko Case

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NASA Space Day on the Texas Capitol Lawn

This past Thursday, the Litter Mermaids spent the afternoon volunteering with TSGC for NASA’s Space Day on the Capitol Lawn in Austin. The weather was awesome, the location perfect, and there was a large number of elementary school students excited to do some fun projects, not to mention free Amy’s ice cream!

Adam and Sam helping students during Space Day

We helped Margaret from TSGC at their booth by helping the kids make straw rockets. We got to interact with a large number of kids and it was truly a pleasure to see them get excited about NASA at such an early age.

Adam helping some students make straw rockets

We’ve all had some pretty extensive volunteering experience through organizations like UT SEEK (Student Engineers Educating Kids), Tau Beta Pi, and Kappa Kappa Psi, and it’s always really rewarding to introduce kids to engineering and science, in hopes that they someday will become the next generation of inventors and thinkers.

UT Engineers + TSGC = ❤

Current song: “Man on the Moon” by R.E.M.

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Back to work!

Hey, everyone!

We all had a great time on our respective Spring Breaks (Sam won’t stop wearing his multiple new Hawaii shirts…), but it’s time to get back to the grind. We’ve spent the first part of this week finishing up our next report for our UT senior design program, as well as doing some preliminary design embodiment work.

Much of the work that is still to be done is dependent on having a detailed 3D solid model of our litter design, so we’ve begun the (somewhat painstaking) task of modeling it in SolidWorks. None of us have really touched this software since our freshman year graphics course, so it’s definitely going to take some time.

Sam CADing our beast of a litter. No, it's not a bobsled.

We’ve also been working on finalizing our material selection, and from here we can start to validate our design through a variety of techniques.

We just booked our hotel for the Design Showcase in Houston, so we’re looking forward to heading to Space City soon!

Current song: “Rocket Experience” by Buzz Aldrin (AKA Doc Rendezvous), produced by Snoop Dogg

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The Litter Mermaids are on Vacation!


As mentioned in our previous entry, we are currently on Spring Break getting some much-needed R&R before the final push of our college careers.

Boston skyline after takeoff from Logan Airport

No worries though, as the team has made significant headway in terms of project scheduling, and is almost a week early on its Gantt chart.

We are looking forward to the coming month, with the hopes that our final multipurpose rescue litter design will take home accolades at the Design Challenge Showcase in Houston. We know that our final design is well thought out; we just need to convince NASA of it!

Current song: “Space Jam Theme Song” composed by James Newton Howard

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