Thesis Projects (last update March 14, 2021)

The Honours Thesis research projects listed below are available only to McGill Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate students in the Honours program and registered for MECH 403-404 courses.

If you are interested in one of the thesis projects, please send an expression of interest to the contact email provided. Although we do our best to keep this list up-to-date, some projects may no longer be available.

If you are a professor who would like to add or remove a thesis project, please complete the honours project posting form

 

Projects for 2021-2022 school year:

 

Thesis Project 2021-1

Title: Computational fluid dynamics investigation of propeller slipstream
Supervisor: Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Brief description: The use of distributed electric propulsion of aircraft allows unusual
wing-propeller configurations to be used. One increasingly common configuration is one in which
many small propulsors are placed at the leading edge of the wing such that the propeller slipstream
(the airflow behind a propeller) can improve the controllability or the aerodynamic efficiency of
the aircraft. This project aims at using CFD to better understand the slipstream behind a propeller,
in the presence of a freestream flow, with a wing located behind the propeller. A CFD analysis will be
performed to evaluate how the lift and drag of the wing are affected by the propeller slipstream,
at different thrust outputs. This information will later be used for aircraft design studies
and in aircraft dynamics and control simulations.
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: March 13, 2021

 

Thesis Project 2021-2

Title: Model validation for an agile UAV
Supervisor: Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Brief description: Agile UAVs are a class of unmanned aerial vehicles that resemble conventional
fixed-wing aircraft, but are capable of extreme maneuvering including hover,
inverted flight, etc. The Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory has been active
in the study of these aircraft for about 10 years. We have developed a
state-of-the-art simulation of the dynamics and aerodynamics of these
aircraft, and we have been using these models to develop advanced controllers
for these aircraft. We are interested in performing a systematic validation of
the models that we have developed, i.e., performing experiments and simulations
and comparing the results to ensure they are similar. This is harder than it
sounds at first glance. Model validation is normally done using open-loop
control inputs, and these aircraft are marginally stable or unstable and
flight in open-loop usually results in crashes. The challenge of this project
is to design closed-loop experiments and methods of analyzing the results
that allow us to separate the effects of the controller from those of the
dynamics. Once these experiments are designed, they would be performed and
the data analyzed. The results would then be used to help improve the
sub-models in the simulation, including aircraft aerodynamics, thruster
dynamics and thruster slipstream sub-models. For background work, see:
https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=7152411
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: January 11, 2020

 

Thesis Project 2021-3

Title: Wind tunnel investigation of a propeller in oblique flow
Supervisor: Prof. Jovan Nedic and Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Brief description: Quadrotors are increasingly being used in outdoor
flight with significant wind speeds. In these situations, the flow through
the propeller disc enters at an angle to the propeller axis. While some work exists in this area, most of this work only looks at
how this affects the thrust generated by the propeller. We are interested in
measuring all three forces and all three moments generated by the propeller
under these conditions. The motor/propeller will be mounted on a six-axis
load cell to measure these forces and moments, at various flow speeds and
propeller spin rates. The data will be used to fit a model for use in our
aircraft simulations. For background work, see:
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/IJIUS-06-2015-0007
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 21, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2021-4

Title: Wind tunnel investigation of propeller slipstream
Supervisor: Prof. Jovan Nedic and Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2021 or Winter 2022
Brief description: An increasing number of unconventional platforms
are being proposed for small unmanned aircraft, in order to improve their
performance. One feature that is becoming increasingly common is the use of
the propeller slipstream (the airflow behind a propeller) to improve the
controllability or the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft. This project
aims at a better understanding of the slipstream behind a propeller, with
increasing oncoming flow. A previous study was done to study the slipstream
without oncoming flow, and we would like to investigate how this is affected
by the forward motion of the aircraft. A hot wire anemometer will be used to
measure the slipstream, and the data will be used to fit a model for use in
our aircraft simulations. For background work, see:
https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/1.C033118
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 21, 2018

 

 

Projects for 2020-2021 school year:
may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out

 

Thesis Project 2020-4

Title: State Estimation on Matrix Lie Groups
Supervisor: Prof. James Richard Forbes
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: Autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous cars,
trucks, and trains, must fuse various forms of sensor data together in order
to ascertain their position, attitude, velocity, and angular velocity.
Typical sensor data includes inertial measurement unit (IMU) data and some
sort of position data, such as GPS data, or range data, such as optical
camera, radar, or LIDAR data. This project will focus on sensor fusion for
robot navigation. The first task will be the development and coding of a
matrix Lie group integrator, in the spirit of a Runge-Kutta integrator, but
tailor to matrix Lie groups. The second task will be the development and
coding of a cascaded sigma point Kalman filter to enable multi-agent
navigation (i.e, navigation of many robots). Students best fit for this
project are those interested in using mathematical tools, such as linear
algebra, numerical methods, probability theory, and numerical optimization,
to solve problems found in robotics. Experience with Matlab and/or C
programming is desired. 
Contact e-mail: james.richard.forbes [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 1, 2020

 

Thesis Project 2020-5

Title: Shape transforming metamaterials for soft robotics
Supervisor: Prof. Damiano Pasini
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: Mechanical metamaterials are manmade materials,
usually fashioned from repeating units, which are engineered to achieve
extreme mechanical properties, often beyond those found in most natural
materials. In this project, the student will use the lens of mechanics of materials to generate material concepts for soft robotics.
Additive manufacturing techniques will be employed to fabricate prototypes and their performance will be examined through mechanical testing.
Contact e-mail: damiano.pasini [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: May 21, 2019

 

Thesis Project 2020-6

Title: Development of a method for recycling fibreglass composite
wind turbines
Supervisor: Prof. Larry Lessard
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: There is growing concern about recycling of end-of-life composite materials.
Waste fiber and other materials cannot be put into landfills so recycling
methods must be developed. Used wind turbine blades can be recycled to
recover the fibers and these fibers can be re-used to make materials for 3D
printing. So this project aims to solve two simultaneous problems: that of
growing amounts of waste and the need for stronger/more high tech materials
for the growing 3D printing industry.
The project involves experimental manufacturing based on composite materials
theory.
Contact e-mail: larry.lessard [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: May 21, 2019

 

Thesis Project 2020-7

Title: Nonlinear dynamics/vibrations of architected materials for
aerospace applications
Supervisor: Prof. Damiano Pasini and Prof. Mathias Legrand
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: When launched in space, satellites need to endure an explosive upright boost
that generates extremely large vibrations throughout their bodies. 
If uncontrolled, these vibrations end up spoiling the performance of their
components with the risk of making them nonfunctional.
In this project we study the nonlinear vibrations of a satellite component
made of ultralight weight architected materials of unprecedented performance.
The goal is to model its dynamic behaviour and understand the geometric
factors that control its highly nonlinear response at the onset of a launch
in space. The work involves a combination of theoretical and computational analysis.
Contact e-mail: damiano.pasini [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 3, 2020

 

Thesis Project 2020-8

Title: Increasing mechanical stability of lithium-ion batteries
through artificial SEI layers
Supervisor: Prof. Emmeline Kao
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: The development of next-generation battery materials is partially limited by
instabilities surrounding the solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer. On one
hand, this layer creates a physical barrier between electrodes and
electrolyte while adjusting the distribution of lithium, making it essential
to battery operation. On the other hand, the SEI layer grows via lithium
consumption, which is one of the reasons batteries lose capacity after many
cycles. And while many studies analyze the chemistry behind SEI formation,
growth, destruction, or stabilization, its mechanical structure and
dependence on the mechanics of battery components is still poorly understood.
In this project, the student will study the implementation of SEI suppression
through atomic layer deposition (ALD). Imaging, compositional analysis, and
characterization will be done in collaboration with University of Utah. ALD
deposition will be done in collaboration with a team of graduate students. A
successful candidate will show a willingness to learn skills in analyzing
characterization data and dive deep into new topics.
Contact e-mailemmeline.kao [at] gmail.com

Posted: September 7, 2020

 

Thesis Project 2020-9

Title: Multi-robot collaborative state estimation
Supervisor: Prof. James Richard Forbes
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2020 or Winter 2021
Brief description: Autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous cars, trucks, and
trains, must fuse various forms of sensor data together in order to
ascertain their position, attitude, velocity, and angular velocity.
Typical sensor data includes inertial measurement unit (IMU) data and
some sort of position data, such as GPS data, or range data, such as
optical camera, radar, or LIDAR data. In multi-robot systems, an
individual robot can also utilize information from its neighbours by
having the robots communicate their state estimates. However, the
estimates of different robots are often correlated, and without
properly modelling these cross-correlations, the performance of the
estimator might be very poor. This project will then focus on
modelling those cross-correlations for collaborative state estimation
in multi-robot systems. The main task will involve the development and
coding of a sigma point Kalman filter to enable multi-robot
navigation; however, based on the student’s interests and background,
alternatives to the sigma point Kalman filter could be considered.
Students best fit for this project are those interested in using
mathematical tools, such as linear algebra, numerical methods,
probability theory, and numerical optimization, to solve problems
found in robotics. Experience with Matlab and/or C programming is
desired.
Contact e-mail: james.richard.forbes [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 14, 2020

 

Projects for 2019-2020 school year:
may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out.

 

Thesis Project 2019-2

Title: Fast prototyping of Capillaric Circuits, autonomous microfluidic devices for biomedical applications
Supervisor: Dr. Oriol Ymbern and Prof. David Juncker
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Capillaric Circuits (CCs) are self-powered microfluidic devices with many potential applications in analysis and biomedicine. CCs propel and control the flow of liquid using geometrically- and chemically-encoded structures, and can implement a rich set of fluidic functionalities, such as sequential delivery of liquids for pre-programmed assays. They can integrate on the same platform all the steps of the analytical process without moving parts or external power supply, from sample pre-treatment to detection. In the last few years, 3D printing and rapid prototyping have been adopted for manufacturing of CCs, but they are not readily adaptable for mass production. The objective of the project is to implement fast prototyping microfabrication techniques for the CC that can bridge the gap between lab prototyping and mass fabrication such as micromilling and hot embossing. The candidate’s task will be (i) to develop and implement new prototyping methods for the fabrication process of microfluidic devices, (ii) to characterize them via physical and image techniques, and (iii) the fluidic testing and optimization of CCs in a biomedical laboratory environment employing different state-of-the-art microfabrication and characterization techniques.

Contact e-mail: oriol.ymbernllorens [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 3, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2019-8

Title: Modeling, sensing and control for forest harvesting machine simulator
Supervisor: Prof. Inna Sharf
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 
Brief description:  Professor Sharf is collaborating with
FPInnovations on increasing robotics and automation in tree harvesting
machinery. As part of this research, we began the development of a simulator
of the feller-buncher machine, its immediate environment and interaction
between machine and environment.  Feller-buncher is a complex articulated
machine comprised of a tracked or wheeled mobile base with an articulated
hydraulic arm equipped with a special purpose end-effector for cutting
(felling) and gathering several cut trees, before they are placed on the
ground for further processing. This topic is motivated by the need for having
a ‘digital twin’ of the system, that is a high-fidelity simulator that
can be used for visualization, development and evaluation of new control and
motion planning strategies for automating aspects of tree cutting operations.
The simulator under development is housed in the Vortex Dynamics software and
at present, it includes the model of the machine itself, joystick to drive
the machine and basic environment modeling. Initial steps have been taken
towards importing into Vortex data from a real forest,  with the  map of the
terrain and trees. In this thesis, the student will continue the development
of the forest environment in the simulator, in particular, the terrain and
forest modeling  and  interaction of the machine with its environment.
Another aspect to be investigated is the selection and integration of sensors
to be placed on the machine to collect data that can assist  with state
estimation of the machine, its localization and mapping of its environment.
Finally, developing of the capability to simulate in Vortex the externally
defined joint motions of the machine will also be part of this project. This
project builds on the work of a SURE student, whose poster is attached to
this posting.
Contact e-mail: inna.sharf [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 18, 2019

PDF icon dkartachov.pdf

 

Thesis Project 2019-9

Title: Finite element research and evaluation of impact on skull in
simulated contact with a hockey helmet
Supervisor: Prof. Mark Driscoll
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Concussions are dangerous and are common
occurrence in Hockey.  In collaboration with Bauer and the hockey research
lab at McGill this project will seek to simulate the stress and forces
conveyed to one's skull when wearing a hockey helmet with different foam
inserts.
Contact e-mailmark.driscoll [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 10, 2019

 

Thesis Project 2019-10

Title: Design and assembly of a robotic spine V4
Supervisor: Prof. Mark Driscoll
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: According to Statistics Canada, 4 out of 5 individuals will be affected by
lower back pain or spinal disorders at some point in their lifetime. Lower
back pain places a massive economic burden on health and welfare systems in
developed nations such as Canada, and more locally, Quebec, often resulting
in the need for medical consultations and work absences. Mechanically, spinal
disorders represent flawed spinal stability, however, the etiology of lower
back pain is often unknown which inhibits the diagnosis and understanding of
spinal dysfunctions.
To further the understanding of spinal disorders and instability, a robotic
spine model was designed complete with analogue bones, artificial cavities,
and pneumatic muscles (McKibbens). Muscular activity on the spine model can
be controlled through a control system by inflating the pneumatic muscles and
artificial cavities while studying the reaction of the spine when subjected
to a load. The control system integrates automatic valves, a position
tracking system, and pressure sensors to study the movement of the spine.
The role of this year’s honours student will be to improve the spine model
and to study the effects that varying intra-abdominal and intramuscular
pressures have on spinal stability and on intradiscal pressure. The spine
model will aim to help further understand the musculoskeletal system of the
spine and potential causes of lower back pain.
Contact e-mail: mark.driscoll [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 11, 2019

 

Projects for 2018-2019 school year:
may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out.

 

Thesis Project 2018-11

Title: Dynamics of photon-driven lightsails for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: The use of lasers to propel sails via direct photon pressure has the
potential to achieve very high velocity spaceflight, greatly exceeding
traditional chemical and electric propulsion sources, and enables the serious
consideration of interstellar flight.  However, the dynamics and stability of
thin sails (lightsails) under intense laser illumination is an outstanding
problem.  This project will examine the dynamics of very thin membranes both
theoretically and experimentally.  The response of a lightsail to
perturbation will be analyzed both analytically and via computer simulation.
Use of gasdynamic loading techniques (shock tube) will enable the same
driving load to be applied in the laboratory, but without the use of
megawatt-class lasers.  Experimental diagnostic techniques (photonic doppler
velocimetry, 3-D digital image correlation) will be developed to study the
lightsail dynamics that will eventually be applied to a laser-driven sail
proof-of-concept facility.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in physical optics, numerical
simulation, and experimental techniques.
Skills involved:  Experience with photography and high-speed data acquisition
would be helpful.  Completion of Mech 321 (Mechanics of Deformable Solids)
and Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-12

Title: Dynamic soaring on a shock wave
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Dynamic soaring is a technique exploited by birds and sailplanes to increase
their flight speed by exploiting differences in airspeed of different masses
of air.  This project will explore this approach by examining dynamic soaring
of a hypersonic glider on a shock wave.  In essence, the technique consists
of “bouncing” back and forth from either side of a shock wave via a high
lift-to-drag turn, increasing the net velocity of the glider.  The ability to
“surf” on a very strong blast wave (such as resulting from a
thermonuclear blast or asteroid impact) from ground all the way to space will
be explored. The use of the technique on shock waves that occur in
interplanetary space (coronal mass ejections, etc.) that might enable
spacecraft to be accelerated to very high velocities “for free” will also
be explored.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts and flight dynamics, with general background in
numerical simulation.
Skills involved:  Completion of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for the
project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-13

Title: Rapid transit within the solar system via directed energy:
laser thermal vs. laser electric propulsion
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Directed energy in the form of a ground or space-based laser providing power
to a spacecraft is a disruptive technology that could enable a number of
rapid-transit missions in the solar system and interstellar precursor
missions.  This project will compare two different approaches for a
spacecraft to utilize beamed laser power:  (1) laser thermal propulsion,
wherein a laser is focused into a chamber to heat propellant that is expanded
through a nozzle and (2) laser electric propulsion, wherein a laser  directed
onto a photovoltaic array generates electricity to power electric propulsion
(ion engine, etc.).  These two concepts will be compared for a number of
missions of interest, as defined by NASA:  (1) Earth orbit to Mars orbit in
no more than 45 days and (2) Traversing a distance of 125 AU in no more than
ten years.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in physical optics and
numerical simulation.
Skills involved:  Prior exposure to spacecraft mission design (e.g.,
experience with ‎Kerbal Space Program, etc.) would be helpful.  Completion
of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) and Mech 346 (Heat Transfer) is required for the
project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-14

Title: Impact of dust grain on lightsails for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Laser-driven lightsails are a promising technique for interstellar flight,
however, sails will experience impacts of dust grains in the interplanetary
and interstellar medium.  The impact of a sub-micron grain can deposit as
much as 1 J of energy into the sail when travelling at speeds necessary for
interstellar flight.  This project will examine the subsequent dynamics of
the sail and the damage incurred.  This problem will be modelled both
analytically and numerically, and experiments will be performed in the lab
with gas gun-launched particles onto candidate thin-film materials.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in materials and stress/strain,
numerical simulation, and experimental techniques.
Skills involved:  Experience with ANSYS would be very enabling for the
project. Experience with photography and high-speed data acquisition would be
helpful.  Completion of Mech 321 (Mechanics of Deformable Solids) is required
for the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-15

Title: Percolation model for detonation in a system of discrete energy sources
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Detonation waves propagating in combustible gas mixtures exhibit very complex
dynamics, with transverse and longitudinal shock waves that sweep across the
front.  This project will attempt to model this process by treating
detonation as an ensemble of interacting blast waves.  Approximate, analytic solutions of
blast waves will be used to treat the problem.  Results
will be interpreted with the assistance of percolation theory, a branch of
statistical physics.  Results will also be compared to reactive Euler
simulations using supercomputing resources.
Skills required:  Strong coding skills (language of your choice) and
awareness in advanced mathematics is of interest.
Personnel sought:  Completion of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for this
project. Interest in nonlinear physics and pattern formation in nature would
provide helpful motivation for this project. Exposure to concepts in
statistical physics (Ad. Thermo) is also desirable.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-16

Title: Pellet stream propulsion for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: A promising approach to deep space propulsion that may enable interstellar
flight is pellet stream propulsion, wherein high velocity pellets (with
velocity exceeding that of the spacecraft) are used to impart momentum onto a
spacecraft.  Such a pellet stream may be able to be collimated and focused
over much greater distances than a laser beam, making it an attractive
alternative to laser-driven directed energy.  This project will examine the
ability of a charged particle to be steered and re-directed via a static
magnetic field (e.g., quadrupole beam steering, etc.), both via computer
simulation and experimental testing in the lab.  The ability to steer a small
(mm to cm scale) pellet via magnetic field of rare earth magnets at speeds of
~1 km/s would be a significant validation of the concept.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with strong background in electromagnetism and physics.
Interest in or familiarity with conventional, fundamental particle
accelerators would be desirable.
Skills involved:  Basic coding skills (language of your choice) and numerical
simulation is required. Experience with basic electronics and
microcontrollers (Arduino, etc.) and 3-D printing would be very helpful for
the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Projects for 2017-2018 school year:
may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out.

 

Thesis Project  2017-2

Title Device fabrication for the imaging of protein secretions from live tissue
Supervisor: Prof. David Juncker
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2017
Brief description: Powerful tools have been developed to spatially quantify the expression of multiple proteins in cells within tissue. However, spatial information about the secreted proteins has remained elusive as these proteins are typically measured in supernatant fluid. The Honours candidate will work with a team of graduate students developing a detection method for secreted proteins from live cells with spatial and temporal resolution. The candidate’s task will be to develop the fabrication process of the hydrogel-based device, and characterize it via confocal microscopy. Major activities of this project include: (i) 3D printing, (ii) design and fabrication of microfluidic devices, and (iii) confocal microscopy of fabricated devices.
Contact e-mail: david.juncker [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 16, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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