The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) held its annual Capstone Day Apr. 27. Capstone Day is an event that allows engineering students to present their work from their Capstone Senior Design course, a required course for all engineering majors.
|USNA's 2016 Capstone Day (Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa. Find more photos on|
the USNA Flickr page.)
The capstone project is the culminating event in a student’s undergraduate educational experience. Midshipmen define the scope of an open-ended problem, use the tools they’ve learned in previous courses to analyze the problem and evaluate alternatives, and work as a team with their fellow students. The students are also exposed to more than 150 professionals from public, private, and sponsoring organizations such as NASA, Boeing, and Northup Grumman.
A group of five midshipmen – Midshipmen 1st Class Sean Cleary, Brock Cremean, Cody Cordero, Chris Miller, and Nathan Marshall – were among the first groups to present on Capstone Day.
The group of mechanical engineers was part of a design challenge presented by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Their task was to design a descending system that allows U.S. Air Force (USAF) Special Operations Force (SOF) personnel “to safely, rapidly, and effectively descend from medium and heavy lift helicopters and tilt rotor aircraft from altitudes in the range of 20 to 90 ft.”
|USNA's 2016 Capstone Day presentations (Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa. Find more|
photos on the USNA Flickr site.)
The technique that the Air Force personnel currently use is called “fast-roping,” a very effective and practical application. But it comes with hazards such as friction burns. Using deductive reasoning, the mids went with a design that improved upon a product already on the market. Lining the inside of the gloves Air Force personnel use with Nomex, a flame resistant material commonly found in firefighter’s apparel, they were able to reduce the amount of heat the user felt.
At the challenge site, USAF SOF personnel tested the midshipman’s product and approved. During the presentation, Cleary said all but one of the SOF personnel said they didn’t feel any heat when fast-roping.
The group’s design now belongs to the AFRL for future use while the midshipmen look forward to beginning their careers as leaders in the U.S. Navy. Capstone Day is a final milestone for many senior midshipmen to complete before graduation May 27.
“We’re just a group of firsties trying to graduate,” said Cordero, a sentiment shared by many of the midshipmen presenting their projects.