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Students pose with the electric vehicle they helped to design and build.Automotive engineering students (clockwise from lower left) Saiful Islam, Adebobola Ariyo, Rupei Bu and Abhishek Jain pose with the electric vehicle they helped to design and build.

Capstone projects take engineering theories for a test drive

The capstone design project reflects four years of learning, say graduating engineering students who presented their final results Friday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Teams from mechanical, automotive, materials, civil and environmental programs explained their approaches to a series of real-world challenges: designing everything from an electric vehicle to a greenhouse for agricultural production.

“It’s the culmination of everything we have done,” says Josh Mailloux, part of a five-person team that designed a pedestrian bridge over the Herb Gray Parkway. “You go back to principles you learned in second year.”

His teammate Syed Hassan says the eight-month process helps the students to develop new skills.

“You are working on more of a professional project,” he says. “Everyone has something to contribute. Your team becomes a family.”

Abhishek Jain, part of a team that designed and built an electric vehicle, says the capstone project taught him how to apply theoretical to a practical use.

Among the lessons the team learned in road testing their design was that it’s possible to build too perfectly. Connections in their chassis were so tight that vibration made their vehicle difficult to steer. The students had to loosen the frame so it had enough “give” to keep all four wheels on the ground.

“You can read it in a textbook, but making it work on the road is a whole new can of worms,” Jain says.