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McNair Scholars Program

Lucas Gorentz


Degree: Bachelor of Science in mechanical and nuclear engineering (December 2016)

McNair Project: Field Measurement of Airflow through Aircraft Cabin Gaspers (2014)

Mentor: Byron Jones, Ph.D.

The threat of contaminants being circulated by an aircraft’s air system is an increasing concern. This project’s goal was to develop a method of measuring airflow from aircraft cabin gaspers. Using a wide funnel balometer, it was discovered that the number of open gaspers and their position caused airflow patterns to change affecting measurements. Modifications, including a baffled insert and later an in-line flow mixer, were applied to disrupt airflow patterns that developed inside the device, and an anemometer housing tube extension was installed to provide more distance for the flow pattern to develop. These modifications did help, but the results still varied depending on gasper position. The final balometer design used a smaller air capture funnel, which could only take measurements from one gasper. This device provided consistent measurements and proved that a single gasper balometer could be used to measure airflow from cabin gaspers with decent accuracy.

McNair Project: Design and Construction of a Self-Balancing Unicycle Robot (2015)

Mentor: Warren White, Ph.D.

Control of mechanical systems is a vital subject for many everyday operations and industries. Effective control is key to increasing the efficiency of complex systems. In controls education, physical models provide students with the ability to visualize how systems operate and react to various conditions.

Physical models of underactuated systems are popular in controls education, particularly because they are more complex and present interesting aspects like natural instability. Several specific systems are used to examine underactuation, including inverted pendulums and multi-wheeled balancing robots. One system that is not as common due to its complexity is the unicycle.

This project describes the process of developing a self-balancing unicycle robot that may be used in controls education and research. Some notable steps in the development of this device include Solidworks design, physical construction, and LabVIEW development. Although the majority of the Unicycle has been created, the system's control is still being developed.