Campus & Community

Stevens Systems Engineering Senior Design Teams Compete at West Point Conference

Teams from Stevens placed in two different presentation tracks at the 2012 General Donald R. Keith Memorial Capstone Conference on May 3, 2012 in West Point, N.Y.

Hosted by the Department of Systems Engineering at the United States Military Academy, the conference featured undergraduate students presenting their culminating final projects to an audience of military and defense industry leaders and engineering professors and students from competing universities.

One of the Stevens projects – Advanced Expeditionary Housing – built on a 2011 multidisciplinary project to design an easily-assembled housing system that provides shelter, energy, water and waste management for 100 people, intended for use in remote combat operations and disaster relief.

“The 2011 team came up with a nice concept for a complete camp, but we knew that many of the numbers were just preliminary,” said Eirik Hole, lecturer in the School of Systems and Enterprises and one of the team’s faculty advisors.  

At the conference, the 2012 Advanced Expeditionary Housing team placed second in the Modeling and Simulation for Military Applications track. Janie Bridge and John Ziegler, who represented the team at the conference, shared how their team built and tested more accurate prototypes, models and simulations to represent systems that could be put into place on a forward operating base. They were even able to simulate different scenarios – such as how the system would perform with lots of rain versus very little rain – using data from combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The team was also able to test the differences in investing in different resources, such as better material for tent insulation versus better HVAC technology, and understand the tradeoffs.

Bridge explained the key outcome of the project: the development a system that “reduced the number of fuel and water convoy trucks required for the military combat outpost through water filtration systems, shelter material analysis and improvement, and heat and power solutions.” 

The 2011 and 2012 Advanced Expeditionary Housing teams were both sponsored by the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), a U.S. Department of Defense university-affiliated research center led by Stevens in partnership with collaborator universities and not-for-profit organizations. The 2012 team members included Bridge, Ziegler, Andrew Flores, Hanna Lupico, Matthew Gelmetti, Dennis Chapman, Haydee-Mercedes Gomez, Matthew Roman, Matt Schettino, Chris Laurite and Michelle Lisa.

The second Stevens team – Post Disaster Relief Developmental Community – was also loosely related to the 2011 project and was also sponsored by SERC. Bringing together Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management majors, the team took initial research concepts from the 2011 project and applied them specifically to Haiti, with the goal of developing a sustainable model for post-disaster development work.

“After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in January 2009, there has been little effort for developmental relief that focuses on Haiti’s future,” said senior Ramy Jabar. “Our goal was to design a community that addresses the basic needs of disaster victims while fostering a network of people that encourage future development.”

The team devised a community-based system of six homes, built by the future occupants themselves, that provides shelter, water, waste and power to disaster victims. The materials, tools and instructions for one community can be shipping in a container for a fraction of the cost of a typical Haitian home.

“Helping the community move from temporary to more permanent housing – largely by getting them involved in redevelopment work – was one of the major goals of the team,” said Hole.

Represented at the conference by Jaber and Kevin Gajewski, the team placed fifth overall in the conference’s poster competition. Other team members included Jonathan Placa, Anthony Guzzo, Philippe Pierr-Paul, Jack Alvino, Jonathan Lado, Muhammad Khairun, Zeyned Mine Bese, Tariq Eatman and Isaura Guzman.

Hole said these two projects epitomize Stevens’ emphasis on creative problem solving and interdisciplinary teamwork to solve real-world challenges.

“These are large-scale, interdisciplinary projects that require a systems approach,” he said. “None of these problems can be solved solely through mechanical engineering, solely through electrical engineering, or with any one discipline alone. They require the students to dive in deep to understand the problems they are trying to solve and realize the synergies between disciplines to come up with the most effective solution.”

In addition to Hole, the teams’ advisors included: Keith Sheppard, associate dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science; John Nastasi, industry professor and director of the Product Architecture Program; and Leslie Brunell, lecturer in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering.