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Capstone Innovation Design Clinic Projects

Innovation Design Clinic Teams | Spring 2017

(For prior years team descriptions, visit our Teams Archive)

Click on any of the following team links for detailed team descriptions.

  1. E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: RO Reject Water Reclamation
  2. E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: Robotics in Manufacturing Project
  3. E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: Sterox Transfer System
  4. Lyons Magnus: L22 Liquid Nitrogen Dosing Optimization
  5. Valley Children’s Hospital: Syringe Pump Stickiness
  6. Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority: Woody Biomass Utilization (Finalist)
  7. Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority: Biomass Paper Products
  8. Sweep Energy: Remote Power Generation for Sensor Applications
  9. Sweep Energy: All Terrain Case Design for Remote Sensing Applications (Finalist)
  10. Bowles Family Farm: Automated irrigation pipe relocation (Finalist)
  11. La-Z-Boy: Design a Clamp System for Blown Fiber Filling
  12. Scholle Packaging: Automatic Bag Making Optimization
  13. Agrecom: Poultry Farm Multi-Rodent Trap
  14. UCSF/Fresno: Portable Assessment of Autonomic Function
  15. UCSF/Fresno: Vibration Device for Quantification of Neuropathy - 2017 Grand Prize Winners!
  16. Frito-Lay Modesto: Intellifeed Optimization - 2017 Runner Up Winners!
  17. Yosemite-NPI-UC Solar: Microwave Bridge to UC Sierra
  18. Yosemite-NPI-UC Solar: Improved Efficiency of XCPC-Solar Composting Toilets and Potable Water Access for Cold Climates
  19. UC Merced Recycling: Solar-Tractor Reuse for Compost Program
  20. UC Merced Vivarium: Waste Gas and Thermal Load Level Biosensor

1.  Team Name: Water Wise | E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: RO Reject Water Reclamation

Client Mentor:  Benjamin Bailey, E&J Gallo Modesto Winery

UC Merced Mentor: Derek Hollenbeck

E&J Gallo winery, the largest winery in the world, recently installed a reverse osmosis system to filter their incoming water. A consequence of this system is the generation of a waste stream of brine, which currently is unusable in any of the winery processes and amounts to millions of gallons per year. Our project was to develop a method of recovering as much of the waste brine as possible and to include cost estimates of required capital and operational costs as well as savings resulting from the recovery of water. 

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2. Team Name: Gallo Robotics In Depalleting (GRID) | E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: Robotics in Manufacturing Project

Client Mentor: Nick Heiser, E&J Gallo Modesto Winery

UC Merced Mentor: Derek Hollenbeck

As the largest winery in the world, E&J Gallo bottles over 70 million cases of wine each year at their Modesto campus.  Currently, various heavy packaging materials are loaded by workers onto bottling lines, which is labor intensive and presents significant ergonomic risk to employees.  Using recent developments in robotics, our team has designed a solution to this issue of moving packaging materials by utilizing collaborative robotic arms in place of current workers.  The design uses sensors and tools in conjunction with the robotic arms in order to quickly and efficiently move materials with a repeat-ability that allows the system to be used 24/7. 

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3. Team Name: P&L Solutions | E&J Gallo Modesto Winery: Sterox Transfer System

Client Mentor: Nick Heiser, E&J Gallo Modesto Winery

UC Merced Mentor: Derek Hollenbeck

E&J Gallo Winery currently bottles over 70 million cases of wine each year at their Modesto campus alone. To ensure the quality of their wine, they use Sterox, a cleaning agent, during their sanitation process. Currently, this process poses some ergonomic and safety concerns among employees. To alleviate this, P&L Solutions has researched and designed a system that will not only reduce these concerns, but can be easily implemented into their current system to improve changeover efficiency.

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4. Team Name: Nitro | Lyons Magnus: L22 Liquid Nitrogen Dosing Optimization

Client Mentor: Rod Wright, VP Engineering and Maintenance, Lyons Magnus | Glenn Peugh, Director of Engineering, Lyons Magnus

UC Merced Mentor:  EVC & Provost Tom Peterson | Prof. Ashlie Martini

Lyons Magnus West is a food products supplier that bottles syrups and sauces. These bottles are hot filled, capped, sealed and cooled on a bottling line. To prevent the bottle walls from collapsing when the product is cooled, a liquid nitrogen dosing system was introduced into the line. However, defects persist frequently due to the inconsistency of the bottling line.

The objective of this project is to reduce bottle defects by finding the source of the bottle pressure variance. Deliverables for this project include a complete analysis of appropriate amount of dosing for each bottle size, measurement of internal pressures, fill volumes, system performance, and documentation / SOP for the entire dosing system. 

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5. Team Name: Syrx | Valley Children’s Hospital: Syringe Pump Stickiness

Client Mentor: Dr. “Vish” Nadarasa Visveshwara, Valley Children’s Hospital

UC Merced Mentor: Rachel Hatano

Syringe pumps are essential for intravenous medication delivery in neonatal units in hospitals. The syringe pumps must function at their highest capabilities but there is a "stickiness" problem that occurs within the syringes. This major problem facing modern syringes is a stickiness between the plunger and the barrel of the syringe caused by friction. This causes pressure fluctuations, inaccuracies in medication dosages, and potential for an open system. Therefore, we must improve upon the syringes to help them match the technology of the syringe pumps and allow dosage and flow consistency with the current hospital setup.

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6. [FINALIST] Team Name: Biocraft | TCEDA: Woody Biomass Utilization 

Client Mentor: Larry Cope, President of TCEDA

UC Merced Mentor: Dr. Robert Rice

Biocraft is working with the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) to design a portable pellet press assembly. Currently in the Stanislaus National Forest, 50-70% of the woody biomass on the forest floor is a fire hazard and must be removed in an optimal way to improve the health of the surrounding community. A viable product to produce on-site are fuel wood pellets, which require a feedstock of biomass at 10-20% moisture content. Biocraft is working to design a drying chamber to reduce the moisture content of the biomass through pressure reduction and heat transfer. The chamber will be an integral part of the design for a portable pellet press assembly. 

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7.  Team Name: Biomass Solutions (BioSol) | TCEDA: Biomass Paper Products

Client Mentor:  Larry Cope, President of TCEDA

UC Merced Mentor: Dr. Robert Rice

Due to massive overgrowth of trees in Tuolumne County, two recent major forest fires, and the spread of beetles killing many trees, excessive woody biomass on the forest floor have started to accumulate. Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) would like to find a way to utilize the biomass on the forest floor to create a compostable product.  This product will not only be a productive additive back into the forest’s health, but it will also help prevent the spread of future forest fires. 

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8. Team Name: Prometheus Ignis (PI) | Sweep Energy: Remote Power Generation for Sensor Applications

Client Mentor: Agustin Roldan, CEO, Sweep Energy

UC Merced Mentor: Sean Johnson

Sweep Energy is an energy monitoring company that provides simple and easy to use sensors that help farmers to understand their energy consumption. This means making better decisions about how energy usage affects overall facility efficiency. The goal is to design a solution that can provide power to the sensors, without the need of expensive and invasive changes to a farm's electrical infrastructure. This power supply design will need to generate enough power to run a few energy monitors on-site and be cost-effective. By introducing a versatile power supply to agricultural environments, this will allow for easier adoption of sensors and reduce installation times.

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9. [FINALIST] Team Name: proTECHt | Sweep Energy: All Terrain Case Design for Remote Sensing Applications

Client Mentor: Agustin Roldan, CEO, Sweep Energy

UC Merced Mentor: Sean Johnson

ProTECHt is developing protective enclosures for sweep energy’s remote sensor systems. These systems are used to send signals to the cloud that monitors the energy usage and troubleshoots equipment in food production, manufacturing, and farming facilities. ProTECHt’s objective is to deliver functioning prototypes that allow proper ventilation of heat, protection against water and dust, while allowing for wireless signals to be transmitted with minimal interference in the environments they are exposed to. Environment conditions include extreme temperatures, high winds, and moisture. A successful design will reduce installation complexity and maintenance of multiple controllers, while providing maximum protection in remote locations. 

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10: [FINALIST] Team Name: IrRIGation | Bowles Farming Company

Client Mentor: Danny Royer, VP of Technology, Bowles Farming Company

UC Merced Mentor: Sean Johnson 

Bowles Farming Company is a sixth generation family farm that focuses on sustainability, conservation and preservation. They harvest many different crops in which they invest time and effort to ensure their highest quality. Bowles Farming Company's objective is to design a system that eliminates or significantly reduces the required amount of labor or time to move sprinkler pipe in agriculture applications. There are two options that can be used to reach the required objective: (1) Design a system that operates with the current sprinkler system or (2) Design an entirely new system that delivers the same effects as the existing sprinkler system. Bowles Farming Company recently invested a great amount of money in their current sprinkler system so a design that implemented the existing infrastructure would be ideal.  An effective design will implement the current sprinkler system, reduce labor costs, and improve efficiency by minimizing time spent relocating the sprinkler pipes.  

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11. Team Name: Manufacturing Clamp Systems (MCS) | La-Z-Boy: Design a Clamp System for Blown Fiber Filling

Client Mentor: Michael del Valle, Continuous Improvement Engineer, La-Z-Boy

UC Merced Mentor: Felipe Mojica

La-Z-Boy is a prominent furniture manufacturer specializing in making customize-able furniture with a focus on making a house a home since 1928. A customize-able option is the use of blown-fiber pillows as backs & arm support. However, this cloud-like experience has led to numerous injuries within the manufacturing plant due to a manual process with a large outlet pipe resulting in employee having strains, sprains, and even surgery as corrective actions due the wide grip needed. The goal of this project is to create an autonomous clamp system for various bags to mitigate any such event from further occurring again.

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12. Team Name: PacSol | Scholle Packaging: Automatic Bag Making Optimization

Client Mentor: Michael Terry, Scholle Packaging

UC Merced Mentor: Felipe Mojica

Scholle IPN is a global leader in production of flexible packaging. A large portion of Scholle’s products are made by an Automatic Bag Maker (ABM).

ABM 7 produces large volume plastic bags for a variety of products. These bags have a unique spout seal with a plastic membrane built into the spout. To prevent damage on the membrane of these spouts, they have to be hand fed by an operator onto a conveyor that leads to the ABM.

The goal of the team is to design and automate this process to minimize the manual insertion by creating an efficient mechanism that will increase the efficiency of the insertion as well as reduce ergonomic issues.

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13. Team Name: Eraticate | Agrecom: Multi-kill Rodent Trap

Client Mentor:  Mike Altomare, Agrecom

UC Merced Mentor: Derek Hollenbeck

Agrecom is a pest control company that provides rodent control in both agricultural and food production facilities. Rodent control in these facilities is a very difficult problem. Currently the industry primarily uses a mixture poisonous bait stations and labor-intensive mechanical traps to control rodents. Between FDA limits on poisonous bait, the negative side effects of the use of poisonous bait, and the unacceptable labor cost of other conventional methods of rodent control the industry is desperate need of a new solution.  Agrecom is looking for a solution that has intelligent detection and activation with a multi-use storage system that can operate independently while also collecting valuable data on rodent activity. ERATICATE is that solution.

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14. Team Name: Neuro-Neers Technologies | UCSF/Fresno: Portable Assessment of Autonomic Function

Client Mentor: Mark Stecker, UCSF Fresno

UC Merced Mentor: Rachel Hanato

The rise in the predominance of diabetes and affiliated complications can be related with compelling burdens on a patient’s quality of life and with great costs. As one of the most common diabetic complications, peripheral neuropathy (PN) affects over half of patients. PN affects both the small and large fiber nerve network within the human body and results in a loss of nerve function, which may lead to further health complications. Neuro-Neers Technologies focuses on developing a cost effective diagnostic tool to quantifiably detect the functionality of small nerve fibers by measuring the body’s ability to thermoregulate by sweating. 

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15. [GRAND PRIZE WINNERS] Team Name: Vibronerv | UCSF/Fresno: Vibration Device for Quantification of Neuropathy

Client Mentor: Mark Stecker, UCSF Fresno

UC Merced Mentor: Rachel Hatano

70% of diabetic patients develop signs of neuropathy, a loss of sensation due to nerve damage. This could lead to foot ulcerations or accelerated deterioration of injury after falling (commonly seen with seniors); in worst case scenario, amputations. To provide an upgrade in diagnosing nerve sensory perception failure, team Vibronerv is designing an electronic device in replacement of the century old technique practiced by doctors across the nation, namely the tuning fork test. By creating a wireless prototype that monitors three critical variables: vibration frequency (generated between 2 to 2000Hz), displacement, and pressure; neurologists will be able to quantify neuropathy subjectively. The next step is to conduct IRB approved testings as to determine the vibrational perception thresholds amongst both healthy and neuropathy sample groups.

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16.  [RUNNER UP WINNERS] Team Name: Integral Solutions | Frito-Lay Modesto: Intellifeed Optimization

Client Mentor: Axel Arias – Maintenance Manager, Frito-Lay | Matthew Bryant – Maintenance & Engineering Director, Frito-Lay

UC Merced Mentor: Dr. Robert Rice

Frito Lay’s Modesto site runs specialty items called the “12 sack” and the “singles”. To produce these items, Frito Lay runs them exclusively through an automated sorter called the “Intellifeed”. Currently the 12-sack line is fed manually due to the inefficiencies of the current vacuum system. The vacuum is supposed to pick up each bag and drop them on a separate conveyor belt, but the current system does not orient them correctly. Frito Lay would like to optimize the current system to produce an automated process for feeding the 12-sack machine from the intellifeed.

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17.   Team Name: Microsystems | Yosemite-NPI-UC Solar: Microwave Bridge to UC Sierra

Client Mentor: David Thorpe, National Parks Institute | Kristina Rylands, National Parks Institute | Steve Shackelton, /UC Merced

UC Merced Mentor: Felipe Mojica 

UC Merced is collaborating with Naturebridge, a new campus built in Yosemite National Park, to use its facilities during the summer months when Naturebridge is not actively using the campus.  UC Merced would call this summer campus UC Sierra. Currently the Naturebridge campus has no access to the internet; however UC Sierra will require high speed internet in order to function at a comparable level to other UC summer campuses. Our team's goal is to design a system utilizing microwave dishes and fiber optics to deliver internet from UC Merced to the Naturebridge campus.

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18.   Team Name: H2SNOW | Yosemite-NPI-UC Solar: Improved Efficiency of XCPC-Solar Composting Toilets and Potable Water Access for Cold Climates

Client Mentor: Ed Dunlavey, National Parks Institute, Steve Shackelton, /UC Merced

UC Merced Mentor: Felipe Mojica

The purpose of our project is to design a system capable of melting snow into safe water without burning biomass or fossil fuels in remote locations where obtaining safe water is difficult during winter. The design should be portable to transport to remote sites and easy to assemble in wilderness environments. Materials should be able to withstand environmental extremes of low temperature, humidity, seismicity, and wind.  There will be intentional positive applications with organizations such as the UN and poverty-sighting programs of NGO’s working to support emerging societies with remote communities facing challenges of clean water.

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19.  Team Name: SEL Solar | UC Merced Recycling: Solar-Tractor Reuse for Compost Program

Client Mentor: Matthew Hirota, UC Merced

UC Merced Mentor: Sean Johnson

As part of UC Merced’s Triple-Zero Commitment of zero landfill waste by 2020, the UCM Recycles team sorts compost from all upper campus waste, and tips it into a dumpster using a battery-powered electric hydraulic bin lift. The two options for charging involve either 1) pushing the lift about 300 yards to the nearest power outlet or 2) connecting to a pickup truck battery using jumper cables -- both of which are inconvenient and potentially hazardous options. By pairing a solar panel and battery system previously designed for UCM Recycles with the bin lift, the safety, convenience, and energy efficiency of the composting program will be improved. 

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20.   Team Name: MICENSOR | UC Merced Vivarium: Waste Gas and Thermal Load Level Biosensor

Client Mentor: Roy Hoglund, UC Merced

UC Merced Mentor: Rachel Hatano

The UC Merced Department of Animal Research Services (DARS) is trying to deviate from the standards of the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" (the Guide) by using a breeding technique called trio mating. This involves having one male mouse and two female mice in a cage in order to produce more mice in less time. To justify this, DARS needs a device that can monitor levels of carbon dioxide, ammonia, and temperature with little disturbance to the mice and which can also provide easily accessible data. By using this device, they will be able to record these levels to ensure that waste gasses do not reach hazardous levels and have specific data to justify their methods of housing mice.

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