Cascade Engineering Authentic Problems

After our pilot meeting with cascade engineering on Feb 17, 2010 cascade agreed to send us some example of authentic problems.These are the problems that Jeff Totten send on March 17, 2010.

Here are couple of ideas that Bo and I have: Bo, please edit if you see anything strange....

1.      Separating nanoclay layers.

a.      Problem - Currently, many compounders rely on their extrusion equipment to separate the individual layers of clay.  The residence time, in the equipment, is simply too short.  We estimate that only about 30% of the possible separation actually occurs.  It would be desirable to have these layers 100% exfoliated.

b.     How to measure - The separation is measured via XRD (x-ray deflection).  The crystalline structure will show no peaks when the layers are further apart.

c.      Freshman challenge - How much energy would it take to obtain 100% exfoliation in nanoclay layers.  Methods studied could be force, agitation, vibration,  etc.

d.     Upper classmen challenge - Put nanoclays into polymers of different viscosities.  How much energy is required to separate the layers in each specimen? 

2.      Bio Sand Water Filtration.

a.      Several communities, world-wide, do not have access to safe drinking water, causing many illnesses, sometimes resulting in death.  Products, such as bio sand filters, are offered to clean the water source, not only providing safe drinking water, but also reducing the rate of illness in these communities.  The bio sand filter system utilizes biological methods to kill certain levels of bacteria, and it utilizes physical filtering media to remove solids. 

b.     How to measure - Use existing water analysis techniques to measure the purity of the water.

c.      Freshman challenge - Study the effects of different size filter media, different morphology, and different rates of water flow.  Also study the effects of the biological build-up on the water surface, and how to improve the effectiveness of this process.

d.     Upper classmen challenge - Study advanced techniques on how to eliminate deadly chemicals,  such as arsenic, utilizing low cost, locally available materials and techniques.

3.      Civil Engineering - Redesigning roof structures for alternative energy systems.

a.      Problem - With the growing popularity of alternative energy systems, such as solar PV panels, many existing structures cannot support the additional weight required for panel installation.  The buildings are rarely designed to handle more than a few re-roofing applications, and a specified load of snow.  In order to add renewable energy sources to current roof systems, an evaluation of the structure must be completed, and ultimately, a re-design may be necessary.

b.     Freshman challenge - Evaluate a current roof structure.  Determine the maximum load it can carry.  Estimate the load that a new solar installation would add.  Compare the two and identify whether the roof structure can handle the additional load.

c.      Upper classmen challenge - Take the outputs from the roof study,  and when the roof cannot hold the additional weight, identify how to either redesign the roof structure, or develop a way that will allow the installation to take place with innovative solutions.

I hope these ideas offer you a couple of choices of real-life projects for your faculty to consider.  Please have them take a look  at these brief descriptions, and have them determine if these are the types of problems that would be suitable for their classroom studies.  If so, if they could format the problems into useable exercises, then perhaps they could identify areas that  require additional information and/or clarification.