Research and Projects

Student Projects

Stirling Engine Fan (click on title for poster)

ME95 "Product Realization," is an interdisciplinary, sophomore course in the Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program that provides an introduction to the product development process, including design, fabrication, assembly and testing. Different techniques are compared for their costs and limitations. The course includes a multi-team project that involves fabrication of components for assembly into a complex, functioning system.

Two sections of one- and two-person teams work together to fabricate parts and assemble two functioning Stirling Engine Fans from a variety of ferrous and nonferrous materials and different joining methods using mills, lathes, drills, press brakes and other manufacturing equipment.

Zero-Gravity NASA Project (click on title for poster)

An experiment container was designed, analyzed, fabricated and used for conducting a chemical experiment (calcium oxalate production) under reduced gravity conditions aboard a NASA-operated aircraft. The container was constructed of a welded and gusseted aluminum square-tubing frame and walled with polycarbonate panels that were lined in silicone and bolted to remain in-place while reinforced with square u-shaped side-wall supports. For evaluation purposes, separate design loads resulting from 9-g's forward, 3-g's aft, 6-g's down, 2-g's lateral, and 2-g's up were imposed on the container. Analytical, numerical (FEA) and experimental methods were used to validate the structural integrity of the experiment container.

Freshman Design (Up Up and Away)(click on title for poster)

ME01 "Introduction to Engineering," is an interdisciplinary, freshman design course that included a multi-team project that used energy in a moving airstream to lift a mass a vertical distance of 2 feet. Fifty-four, four-person teams from five pre-engineering programs (College of Sequoias, Fresno City College, Reedley College, West Hills Community College, and Willow International) and one four-year engineering program (Fresno State) competed in the 15th annual Central California Engineering Design Competition (CCEDC) in Fall 2011. The winning device scored the greatest performance index of P=mass (g)/(time in s to lift two feet) of 137.2 g/s. 

 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (click on title for poster)

Laser targeting systems implemented on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) such as the TASE Gimbal depend on the accuracy of instruments such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, pressure sensors, and Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine accurately the position and distance to target. These instruments almost always required vibration isolation. When measuring and determining position to target, a highly stable surface must be maintained upon which to mount the targeting system. Any vibrations coupled into the mechanical structure of the TASE Gimbal will result in displacement and position noise and ultimately in the inability of the instrument to accurately determine the position of the target. Therefore, it is essential to design and implement a vibrations isolation system that will allow for proper operation of such instruments.

Formula SAE (click on title for poster)

Formula SAE® is a student design competition organized by SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers).  The first competition was started back in 1978 and was originally called the Mini Indy.  The concept behind Formula SAE is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style racecar.  The prototype race car is to be evaluated for its potential as a production item.  The target marketing group for the race car is the non-professional weekend autocross racer.  Each student team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules whose purpose is both to ensure on-site event operations and promote clever problem solving.  Formula SAE promotes careers and excellence in engineering as it encompasses all aspects of the automotive industry including research, design, manufacturing, testing, developing, marketing, management and finances.  Formula SAE takes students out of the classroom and allows them to apply textbook theories to real world experiences.

 Human Powered Vehicle (click on title for poster)

For the 2011 competition, the Fresno State Human-Powered Vehicle Team set out to improve upon past entries in the speed bike class. From 2005 to 2007, there has been a gap in passing down knowledge to the next club. However, by actively pursuing continual improvement since 2008, the hard work and determination has paid off, as the club used the design work and reports from 2008 to 2010 as a basis for the development of the vehicle for 2011. In recent years, the fully-faired speed bicycles the team has ridden have had respectable performance, so these designs were used as a starting point for the 2011 design. At its core, the speed bike was designed as a recumbent bicycle encased in a full fairing. The use of a recumbent, fully-faired design minimizes the air resistance (drag) while also allowing for the rider to sufficiently power and control the bicycle. Fresno State retained the use of carbon fiber as the material for the fairing, as well as carbon kevlar, as its strength to weight ratio is a noticeable improvement over other currently available materials. The changes in the steering and drive train represent the majority of changes in this year's design for Fresno State. As such, Computational Flow Dynamics were performed with COSMOS FloWorks on potential designs in

 Faculty Research Projects

 UAV (unmanned aerial Vehicle)

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigator, or pilot on the ground or in another vehicle.  Although there are a wide variety of drone shapes, sizes, configurations, and characteristics, historically, UAVs were simple remotely piloted aircraft, but autonomous control is increasingly being employed.  Although UAVs are predominantly deployed for military applications, they are also being used in a small but growing number of civil applications, such as firefighting and nonmilitary security work, such as surveillance of pipelines. UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too 'dull, dirty, or dangerous' for manned aircraft.  At Fresno State, the initial design of UAV utilized an R/C model airplane controlled by an R/C operator with direct line-of-site.   Some initial goals involved flying overhead and "painting" a target with a laser.  Target coordinates were pre-programmed and static with targets approximately 1-2 meters wide.
The operator had a forward-looking view camera.  Flight times were approximately 15-30 minutes in length with range to target of 100-1000 feet.  The UAV also incorporated surveillance cameras.  Dr. Gemunu Happawana is part of a multi-disciplinary team working on UAVs.   Contact Dr. Happawana for more information: or 559-278-6832.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

Vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) are a type of wind turbine where the main rotor shaft is set vertically and the main components are located at the base of the turbine. In addition to not having to point VAWTs into the wind, other advantages of this arrangement are that generators and gearboxes can be placed close to the ground, which makes these components easier to service and repair, and that VAWTs do not need to be pointed into the wind.  However, some drawbacks for the VAWT designs are that the pulsatory torque can be produced during each revolution with resulting huge bending moments on the blades and near resonant vibratory oscillations in the components and structure. Dr. Gemunu Happawana is part of a multi-disciplinary team working on VAWTs. Contact Dr. Happawana for more information: or 559-278-6832.

Ceramic Composites in Nuclear Applications

The US Department of Energy (US DOE) is currently exploring replacing conventional zirconium-alloy fuel rod tubes in light water reactors (LWR) with fuel rods consisting partly or entirely of ceramic matrix composites (CMC) thereby benefiting LWRs by enhancing fuel performance and accident tolerance.  In addition, US DOE is also  exploring advanced materials for the core and the reactor unit components in various advanced Small Modular Reactor (SMR) concepts.  In both cases, the CMCs of particular  interest include silicon carbide (SiC) continuous fiber SiC-matrix (SiC/SiC) composites, that are anticipated to revolutionarily expand the design window for various components in terms of operating temperature, applicable stress, and service life, as compared to the heat-resistant metallic alloys, while significantly improving the safety margins and the accident tolerance.  Use of new CMC materials in LWR and SMR applications require mechanical test standards to support of not only material development and property databases, but design codes and component specification documents, as well as Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations on nuclear design approval, certification, and licensing.   Dr. Michael Jenkins conducts research that results in the development, verification and introduction of standards and design codes for CMCs in nuclear applications.   Contact Dr. Jenkins for more information: or 559-278-8743.

 Smart/Active Materials

Smart/Active materials have recently been emerging as a new trend in mechanical designs, especially for advanced or intelligent systems. The applications range from consumer products, medical devices to military equipment.  Dr. The Nguyen is currently researching and designing with these interesting materials. He is  utilizing smart materials to enhance the strength of mechanical engineering designs, mechatronics applications and control systems.   Contact Dr. Nguyen for more information: or 559-278-1675