Senior Capstone: Asteria 

By Zoe Crain
Copy Editor 

Team members: Zoe Crain, Madison Padilla, James Wigton, Murtuza Lemonwala, Zachary Gibbons, Alan Davis, Nathanael dePutter, Joshua Pearson, Sierra Dryer, Joseph Guest, and Nicholas Mallott 

One of the four AE Astro capstone projects is being completed by Team Asteria, who operate under Project Manager Zoe Crain and are working on Project Hera. Crain’s team is in Spacecraft Detail Design (AE 445) with Dr. Julio Benavides this semester. 

Hera is designed to be an autonomous landing system consisting of a ground station, an ascent vehicle, and a descent vehicle. The descent vehicle (the main system in the project) is meant to preserve a delicate payload during a fast descent from high altitudes. The project was originally intended to be a preservation system in the event of a plane crash or failed rocket launch. The descent vehicle should pilot itself to a pre-determined location. 

The project was originally proposed by members of Dr. Benavides’ capstone class in the fall semester, and selected by Dr. Benavides to be a viable project idea.  

However, the project itself has proved to have one huge discrepancy. “Our biggest difficulty this semester has definitely been our need to use another team’s design to lift our system,” said Crain. Asteria is using a previous team’s design, a massive hexacopter, to lift their descent vehicle to altitude during testing. “The problem with Team Ascension’s design is literally everything,” said Crain ruefully. “We’ve basically had two projects this entire time, because we had to fix all of Ascension’s mistakes.” 

At this point, however, Asteria has completed their project: for better or worse. “Apollo [the hexacopter] is absolutely destroyed,” reports Crain. “It worked perfectly during a flight test until it hit 65 meters in the air. Then, the flight controller stopped working completely for some reason and it hit the ground at about 80 miles an hour.” Needless to say, Asteria is unable to complete their flight tests for their descent vehicle. 

But the experience hasn’t been all bad. “The most exciting thing about this project is literally that we were even able to get as far as we did,” Crain said. “We fixed one capstone project, plus built our own from scratch. Being able to come into another team’s design blind and still manage to integrate it with your own is extremely difficult, and I am beyond proud of our ability to do it.” 

Finally, Crain notes, “Astro projects are a ridiculous amount of work. Dr. Benavides has done an incredible job of emulating industry standards, but that means Astro teams design an entire system from nothing. Because of this, we had to do research into information way outside our comfort zones, like EE and SE materials.” 

Asteria would like to thank Dr. Benavides, Dr. Bradley Wall, and Dr. Stephen Bruder for the innumerable hours they have put into helping the team understand concepts far beyond the scope of the class. 

Editors Note: Zoe Crain is a copy-editor of Horizons and quotes herself. This is not ethicial.

Featured Features

CE/SE/EE Detail Team – Transit

By Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor

Team Members: Andrew Sverdrup, Kolten Leffler, Robert Velarde, Josh Hammes 

The Transit team is one of two CE/SE/EE teams on campus. Lead by Andrew Sverdrup, the team has focused on working with their industry sponsor, ACSS, to design a solution for sending flight log data to data centers to be processed. What this entails is that the flight data is captured by the pilot’s iPad and stored until all of the data has been received. Then, the data is uploaded to a data center in the cloud where analysis can be run. This process hopes to assist in the development of more efficient flight patterns, and make flying more affordable.  

The project idea stemmed from their sponsor, ACSS, who kept detailed logs of flight data but had no convenient means of obtaining the data without sending someone out to each plane. From that, the company wanted to look ways to easily access the data.  

Over the two semesters, the team faced a few challenges. “Our biggest difficulty has been planning time to meet and work as a group around our busy senior schedules,” said team lead Sverdrup. Despite that, the team has been able to work through the core phases of the project. This includes creating an iPad app that receives and securely sends data to the cloud, a flight data simulator to test the app, and a database/webserver that receives flight data, processes it, and generates necessary charts.  

With that, the group is left working on writing tests and documentation, along with developing some extra features. When asked about what was the most exciting aspect of the project, Sverdrup remarked, “The potential to take flight data from thousands of individual flights and perform data analysis on it to make flying safer and more affordable is very exciting.” 

Transit would like to thank ACSS for recommending the idea to them, and their faculty advisor, Dr. Davis, who helped them understand aviation terms they came across and answering any questions they had. Along with that, they thank Dr. Post, Dr. Siewert, and Dr. Van Hilst for providing helpful and detailed feedback during their design reviews.  


Capstone: S.A.R.G.E. 

By Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor 

Team members: Jacqueline Worley, Garrison Bybee, Morgan Garone, Grayson Lynch, Chad Abramson Jr., Sara El Baissi, Riley Griffin, Mathew Todd 

One of the two ME-Robotics projects this year is the Search and Rescue Ground Explorer, otherwise known as S.A.R.G.E. Lead by Jacqueline Worley, the team set off to create an autonomous ground vehicle that can assist in search and rescue missions by providing supplies and leading able survivors to safety.  

This concept was put forth when the entire team wanted to work on something in relation to search and rescue. Along with that, they wanted to base their idea off of the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, which is a competition that competes autonomous ground vehicles in several difficult challenges. When asked what the most difficult part of the project was, Worley remarked, “Lots of team drama and arguments and design decision meshing,” were the main issues they ran into.  

With the semester wrapping up, the team has nearly completed their mechanical subsystem and testing the software subsystem. However, work on the electrical subsystem is still being done. Once the systems are complete, the group plans to go through integration and testing of the robot.  

When asked about what made the project exciting, Worley commented that, “Getting to see the vehicle move and getting feedback from the Yavapai Search and Rescue teams,” were the most exciting. Along with that, the team is looking forward to their project’s competition and, subsequently, the implementation of S.A.R.G.E. in different environments.  

As a final note, members of the S.A.R.G.E. team would like to thank Dr. Iacopo Gentilini, Professor Richard Mangum, the Undergraduate Research Institute (URI), the College of Engineering (COE), Jim Weber, Jeff Hyatt, Ernest Stokesberry, and Patrick David for lending a hand to their project’s success.  


Capstone: Team Impulse  

By Madison Padilla
Chief Copy Editor 

Team Members: Eric Trevenna, Matthew Andrews, Sarrah Bramblett, Michael Calivas, Parker Duncan, Shaban Gakere, Tyler Green 

Team Impulse is one of the three ME-Propulsion teams for this year. Lead by Eric Trevenna, the team has been working on building a cold gas thruster that produces about five to ten pounds-force worth of thrust. The project concept itself was developed by Dr. Brenda Haven and recommended to the team at the start of Preliminary Design.  

When asked what the biggest difficulty the group has faced, Trevenna remarked that, “It was getting our design pressure at the nozzle entrance. Our regulator is not able to get a high enough pressure through the system to our nozzle.” Despite this though, the team was able to design and fabricate their system.  

With the build portion of their project complete, the group just needs to go through their testing phase now. With the testing phase, the team hopes to confirm that their theoretical calculations matches up with their experimentation results. By doing this, the design would be considered a success. As the semester wraps up, Trevenna remarked that, “The most exciting part of this project has been testing our system and watching it work.”  

Team Impulse would like to thank the staff and faulty who helped them design and build their cold gas thruster, including Dr. Murat Okcay, Dr. Michael Fabian, Dr. Matt Haslam, and Dr. Elliott Bryner.  

Featured Features

Team Eagle Eye designing a new eye in the sky 

By Russ Chapman

Team Members: Chase Bilyou, Scott Bragg, Zach Graeber, Emily Parker, Saravanan R, Megan Riley, David Sanders, Joshua Warshaw, Kyle West 

Team Eagle Eye is an aero preliminary design team working on designing a complex surveillance drone. The premise of the project was presented by Dr. Zwick to the team at the beginning of the semester and assigned to them.  

The project had a very specific mission in mind. Team lead, Megan Riley, described the mission parameters. The team is designing a long range drone to survey a gas pipeline that runs from Tucson, Ariz., to El Paso Texas.  

The purpose of the drone is to be a compact modular design that can be transported in the bed of a pickup truck to the launch location. The aircraft is then to be assembled and launched and should be able to survey the entire pipeline on one flight to look for security risks. If accomplished the drone design would be safer, and more cost efficient than the company’s current method of surveying the pipeline. 

The team’s greatest challenge this semester has been coordinating times to meet with all the members. Managing the schedules of nine senior engineering students made it very hard to find times when the entire team would be available to meet. 

However, the team did find its stride and has accomplished much this semester. Team Lead Megan Riley commented on their progress, “We have completed the preliminary design phase which involves creating the complete design for the aircraft. All sizing for wings, fuselage, tail, etc has been completed, and all payload components have been selected.” 

Next order of business for the team is to assemble a testing model to be analyzed in a wind tunnel as well as for structural integrity. Once the analysis has been completed and the design finalized the team will build a half-scale model to be flown next December. Riley mentioned being excited for the team moving forward. She looks forward to the manufacturing phase of the project. The success of manufacturing will be a good demonstration of the quality of the preliminary design.  

The team would like to thank Professor Zwick and Dr. Haslam for their continued guidance in the project. They would also like to thank Dr. Morris, Dr. Helbling, Dr. Traub, and Dr. Bordignon for their expertise and assistance in overcoming obstacles the team encountered.

Featured Features

Senior Capstone: Sparta Robotics 

By Zoe Crain
Copy Editor 

Team Members: Jon Buchholz, TJ Lilyblade, Clayton Walker, Justin Maza, Bruce Nelson, Emma Hutchinson, Alexandra Indritz, and Andrew Pederson 

One of the two ME Robotics capstone team’s name is Sparta Robotics, and is led by Project Manager Jonathan Buchholtz. Buchholtz’s team works on Project Gemini in conjunction with AE Astro team Coeus Promethea Genna (CPG). 

The premise of Sparta’s project is to design and construct a manipulator for the purpose of a satellite refueling mission simulation. In conjunction with CPG’s chase and target vehicles, Sparta has created a space robot. 

According to Buchholtz, the team’s greatest difficulty faced during the Detail semester is rapid prototyping. “While it’s great to iterate designs quickly, we sometimes use it as a crutch for rushed designs. If we didn’t have our own printer in the Space Robotics Lab, it would have been much more difficult to pull off all the printing we’ve done throughout the semester.” 

As of halfway through April, Sparta had just passed their software integration test. This test was the last major milestone before the team’s critical design review: but that doesn’t mean the team is done. Sparta is still working on implementing autonomous control of the manipulator, which is proving to be a much larger step than originally planned. There are also several mechanical designs being improved upon so that the structure is stronger and the kinematics are more efficient. 

The most exciting thing about the semester, according to Buchholtz, “was definitely seeing the manipulator attached and running on CPG’s satellite. The next thing I’m looking forward to is performing the refueling phases, which are the apex of the project.” 

Sparta Robotics would like to thank their professor, Dr. Iacopo Gentilini for his “never-ending dedication to us and our projects, and for his hard work in putting together the Space Robotics lab, the coolest place on campus.” They would also like to thank Dr. Julio Benavides for setting up this cooperative opportunity, and of course, “all of our CPG colleagues for their effort in putting together a very impressive project.” 


Detail Team: Project Strickland 

By Brandon Dudley 
Online Editor  

Team Members: 

  • Michael Chastain – Design Team Lead 
  • Zechariah Anderson – Assistant DTL/Test Lead 
  • Brian Stull – Fabrication Lead 
  • Tim Taylor – Instrumentation Lead 
  • Phil Kyler – Instrumentation Assistant 
  • Ifa Abdul Latiff – Safety Lead 
  • Katie Powell – Liaison Engineering Lead 

The detail team, Project Strickland, guided by Dr. Murat Okcay and Dr. Michael Fabian sought to research, design, and test an air heater to be used in the ME 446 Thermal Fluids Lab. It was required to heat an air flow to 300 degrees Fahrenheit above ambient temperature. We had to use propane as a fuel source while maintaining the air flow as non-vitiated. Non-vitiated means that none of the byproducts of the propane flame combustion can come in contact with the air flow.  

The idea of the project was to provide a heated airflow to pass through a test chamber. Inside this test chamber, the students of the ME446L Lab Course could place a test specimen and practice taking different measurements within the flow. 

The biggest difficult for them was fabrication. Although they moved through smoothly, it is something not many students have experience with. They were lucky enough to have most of the team have experience, so it wasn’t as difficult as it could have been.  

Thus far, the detail design and fabrication of the prototype has been completed; currently testing to confirm the specifications they had initially designed for. Once that is completed, we can analyze the data taken from testing to find out if what we designed for was achieved. 

Team Lead Michael Chastain is most excited by the fact that Project Strickland started from scratch. The team began with a few different designs, analyzed them and discussed them. “We ended up on the idea of a cross-flow heat exchanger, but further than that, we were all on our own. I know both the team and myself are most excited to see something we built from the ground up complete our goals”. 

Furthermore, Chastain mentioned that when he “[Began] school here, I knew I wanted to be engineer. I had no idea which path to head down as far as mechanical, aerospace, etc. I am glad I went with mechanical (and I’m sure my team would concur) because we were given the opportunity to build something that hadn’t necessarily been done before. We learned more than we could have imagined throughout our time in Prelim and Detail. I am extremely proud of my team and how far we have all come.” 

Project Strickland wanted to thank the professors they’ve been in contact with all semester: Dr. Murat Okcay, Dr. Michael Fabian, Dr. Daniel Dannelley, Dr. Elliot Bryner, and Dr. Brenda Haven, all for helping them answer the most complex questions to helping them through times when they knew the answers to questions Strickland didn’t know they had. “I’d also like to thank the AXFAB technician team for the long hours put in to get our prototype fabricated and assembled. Lastly, we’d like to thank our sponsors Barrett Propane, Banker Insulation, and the College of Engineering here at ERAU” Chastain mentioned as a final note. 


Capstone: Industry Engineering Designs with PEAC 

By Russ Chapman

Team Members: Nicholas Nuyn, Sean Gaffney, Kevin Prasad, Lukas Everhart, Robert Graham, Isaiah Martinez, Justin Nguyen, Benjamin Stolte, Jason Evans, Lauren Barthenheier, Colton Campbell, Alexander Nuyn, Jared Rosenkrance, Ryan Poppert 

The largest detail design team this semester is Prescott Experimental Aircraft Concepts (PEAC).The team was originally two individual preliminary design teams working in competition to design an innovative vertical take off unmanned aerial vehicle (VTOL UAV). The two teams had consultant specialists from the Bell Engineering Innovation project that supported the project. At the end of the prelim phase the two projects were downselected to one and the teams merged for the detail fabrication and testing. 

The project was proposed by Dr. Crisler and Kirk Groninga, the project manager for the Bell Engineering Innovation Project. The idea of the project was to have Bell, a division of the Textron conglomerate, sponsor a detail design team in their design of a new proprietary system that would go on to be patented. It gave the students experience with a simulated industry scenario. 

At this point in the process the team has completed two wind tunnel models and their testing. A one-third scale flight test model has also been designed, fully assembled and fabricated. Testing of this flight model is currently in process. Further flight testing on the model and the resulting data analysis remain to be completed by the team, as well as the final report submission.  

When asked what about the project most excited the team, team lead Nicholas Nuyn said, “The team is excited to have a working flight demonstrator and have high probability to be allowed to present publicly in the capstone symposium.” This is exciting for the team as one of the biggest challenges they faced in the process was dealing with the dissemination of information under the non-disclosure agreement the team signed in order to participate in the project.  

The team would like to thank Dr. Criser and Mr. Groninga for making their project a possibility. They would also like to thank other professors and machine shop staff who helped them along the way, namely Professor Mangum, Jim Weber, Patrick David, and Jeff Hiatt. They also extend their thanks to the employees of Bell who aided them in the project as well, namely Mr. Scott Drennan, Mr. Brett Zimmerman, and Mr. Al Brand.  

Featured Features

GSIS Senior Capstone Class 

By Marquette Davis

For the GSIS Capstone, the entire class is participating in this project and is split up into six teams of four members each.  

The group is designing a Wargame in which they play out potential conflict scenarios on the Korean Peninsula. Our teams consist of North Korean, South Korean, Russian, Chinese, and US teams made up of students in the class. The managers of the wargame are the Administrative Team, or Umpires, who have led the class in the development and production of the game. Each of these teams will participate in playing out the scenarios of the wargame, meaning the students will be participating in and analyzing the current potential conflict development on the Korean Peninsula.  

Dr. Daniel gave the order, “Students will produce a high quality table-top exercise that games out at least one possible scenario for a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.” From there, he left the students to their own creativity from coming up with the scenarios to producing a playable tabletop board game with real-life global implications. 

When asked what was the most difficult part of the semester, students just remarked, “Mitch Major.” 

At this point, the class has completed the rulebook and the entire physical production of the game (with just some small corrections to make). They are now in the troubleshooting phase, in which the class plays through the game until they have made all the improvements they can –as Mitch Major, a member of the GSIS Capstone class says, “If you’re not doing it wrong the first time, you’re not doing it right.” It must be ready for playing by the April 20, after which the class will begin playing. Our class will be sharing our product with DOD professionals and several faculty members and hope to make it a permanent relic in the College of Security and Intelligence.  

They have several playtests yet to do before they finalize our product. Besides that, they just need to make it look good. Overall they are most excited about finishing it. They invite everyone to see their game in Building 17, where it will be proudly displayed from this semester on. 

The GSIS Capstone Class would like to extend a special thank you to the College of Security and Intelligence for granting us the resources to produce a kick-butt wargame they are proud to display and excited to play! 

Featured Features

Senior Capstone – Coeus Promethea Genna 

By Zoe Crain
Copy Editor 

Team members: Catherine Ayotte, Nina Rogerson, Patrick Bright, Raul Gonzalez, Lee Morris, Trupti Mahendrakar, Yashica Khatri, Noor Rashid, Matthew Klockner, Rachel Pope, and Seven Reinhart 

One of the four AE Astro senior capstone teams is called Coeus Promethea Genna (CPG) and their Project Manager is Catherine Ayotte. CPG is working in conjunction with an ME Robotics capstone team, Sparta Robotics. Ayotte’s team is in Spacecraft Detail Design (AE 445) with Dr. Julio Benavides. Their project name is Project Gemini. 

Project Gemini is designed to be an emulated satellite refueling mission. Essentially, the team is recreating an in-orbit satellite refueling mission in Earth in a 2D plane. Their chase vehicle (the vehicle that does the refueling) hovers and translates on a demonstration platform autonomously, while their target vehicle remains stationary. CPG is in charge of developing the chase and target vehicle, as well as developing a method of tracking them. Sparta Robotics has developed a robotic manipulator that is on board CPG’s chase vehicle that allows rendezvous and refueling between the vehicles. 

This lofty project was proposed to all AE Astro and ME Robotics students in the fall semester by Dr. Benavides and Dr. Iacopo Gentilini, with the intention of it being the first Astro-Robotics capstone collaboration. 

The greatest challenge CPG had to overcome this semester was back in January, when the team determined that multiple design decisions from the previous semester were not going to work. With only three weeks before they needed to begin purchasing and production of the physical structure, the team had to double down on their analysis of critical components (such as the chase vehicle frame structure) and make quick, educated decisions about how to improve their design: without jeopardizing other aspects of the project. 

CPG is currently in the final phase of their project. The team must complete the remaining 60% of scheduled tests. Once tests are completed, the team will finalize their test reports. 

According to Ayotte, the most exciting part of the project is definitely “seeing all the systems come to life and start functioning. It’s easy to see a design in CATIA for months, but when the vehicle is in front of you with lights blinking and signals being sent, it’s a completely different feeling.” 

Ayotte continues, “Prelim and Detail have been unlike any other experience at Riddle. No project in any other class can prepare you for the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a major engineering endeavor: nor will you be prepared to realize everything that could have gone wrong has.” 

CPG would like to thank Dr. Gentilini and Dr. Benavides for everything they have helped CPG tackle along the way, in addition to Sparta Robotics for being the other half of Project Gemini.