McGill Engineering Design Teams and Projects
Through the generous donations of our donors, the Faculty of Engineering provides funds that enable student design teams to compete in national and international competitions.
Our team is the only one to have participated in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge with a fully electric snowmobile. We presented a revised and improved version of our unique electric snowmobile prototype, the Wendigo prototype, in March 2005 in Houghton Michigan.
The snowmobile was used by the Greenland Summit Station team of scientists during the summer. The objective was to get to the snow-sampling research zone without leaving any trail of CO2 in the zone. The snowmobile allowed scientists to double their productivity by carrying more and traveling more than they previously did on cross-country skis.
The Mini Baja off-road SAE competition challenges students to build a car that can navigate anything from large boulders to seemingly impossible inclines. The events typically take place over three days, broken down as follows:
- Day One - Static Events
The cars are put through a series of rigorous safety tests, and are judged based on design features, manufacturability and overall appearance.
- Day Two - Short Events
Consist of rock crawling, hill climbing, drag racing, land maneuverability, and suspension and traction
- Day Three - The Endurance Race
A four hour free-for-all with a mass start of around 70 Baja SAE Racers. This race is a huge spectator event with cars trying to put as many laps as possible behind them in the allotted time. The endurance race track includes sections of the suspension and traction course, a mud hole, several wooded sections and numerous jumps. The course is usually about 5 or 6 kilometers long.
Students from all engineering disciplines design, fabricate and compete with small formula-style race cars. Restrictions are placed on the car frame and engine so the students' knowledge, creativity, and imagination are tested. The current formula SAE team is made up of students from the departments of Mechanical and Electrical engineering. The team welcomes new members from all departments every year.
Mantis is a robot designed to compete in the SAE "Robot Systems Challenge”. The competition allows teams from around the world to challenge their designs in a range of events that test the robots' guidance, accuracy and speed. The robot will be designed and fabricated entirely by the coordinated efforts of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering students at the undergraduate level. It is a fully autonomous robot that is able to avoid obstacles, can climb walls, can overcoming tires, stairs, and ramps, is able to pickup delicate objects, and distinguish colors. The robot will be built according to, but not constrained by, the requirements of the SAE Robot Systems Challenge.
The McGill Lunar Excavator Team is a group of undergraduate engineering students collaborating to construct a fully automated lunar excavator. We are designing and building the excavator to compete in NASA's centennial 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge in San Luis Obispo, California.
The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge is one of seven Centennial Challenges put forth by NASA to invoke innovation in space exploration operations. This challenge promotes the advancement of lunar regolith excavation as the first step towards the utilization of the moons resources. The unique physical properties of lunar regolith make excavation a difficult technical challenge. Advances in lunar regolith extraction have the potential to significantly contribute to the National Space Vision and space exploration operations.
Why Lunar Excavation? The Moon's surface contains helium-3 at concentrations on the order of 0.01 ppm. A number of people, starting with Gerald Kulcinski in 1986, have proposed to explore the moon, mine lunar regolith and using the helium-3 for fusion. Because of the low concentrations of helium-3, any mining equipment would need to process large amounts of regolith, and some proposals have suggested that helium-3 extraction be piggybacked onto a larger mining and development operation.
Cosmochemist and geochemist Ouyang Ziyuan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences who is now in charge of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program has already stated on many occasions that one of the main goals of the program would be the mining of helium-3, from where "each year three space shuttle missions could bring enough fuel for all human beings across the world.
In January 2006 the Russian space company RKK Energiya announced that it considers lunar helium-3 a potential economic resource to be mined by 2020, if funding can be found."
There is more than 100 times more energy in the helium-3 on the moon than in all the economically recoverable coal, oil, and natural gas on earth.
Scientists estimate there are about 1 million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years.
Helium-3 (He3) a rare particle on Earth but abundant on the Moons lunar surface (He3 is required for a fusion reactant - safe nuclear energy) has an energy value in today's dollars is $5.7 million per kilogram when compared to the value and energy potential of oil.
NASA Excavation Simulation Project http://www.digitalspaces.net/projects/lunarexcavators/ (pick a video and put it on the page)
McGill LunarEx Objective To represent McGill University in the NASA Centennial 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge and win the $750,000 prize. The challenge is an interdisciplinary project that requires a large mechanical and electrical force as well as mining expertise. McGill University has the facilities and student resources necessary to meet this challenge.
Create an excavator that will dig up and collect simulated lunar regolith within a specific time frame of 30 min and a minimum mass of 150 kg of regolith. There is a constant power supply of 24 volts and a 150 Watt cap on the average power consumption. The excavator should not exceed 70 kg of mass and must be fully autonomous and mobile such that it will navigate its way around rocks to a designated spot where it digs up the regolith, and later dumps the load into a collector at the edge of the sandbox. Markers may be placed around the collector to help with orientation.