ME Senior Design: Path Sweeper

Jane Oberhauser

Jane Oberhauser,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 21 November 2016

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how I was excited for my capstone design project. Our team is designing a bike path sweeper to be pulled behind a bicycle and sweep the dry leaves and small debris into a hopper for dumping in designated areas.

It’s a very interesting project that brings in a lot of different mechanical concepts to balance. The obvious ones were directly addressed in the beginning of the project, such as pulling behind instead of in front for safety reasons and our required and desired performance specifications from our project partner.

The first stage of the design process was our conceptual design development stage. This is where we’re just trying to imagine as many possibilities for the design as possible. Next, is the conceptual design decision stage, where we use many different methods and continued research to decide upon an idea. After this stage, we meet with our mentor and professor to present our decision.

Our team ran into some difficulties in this, because around that time, we took a prototype which was given to us (a grass sweeper for a lawn) out for a ride hitched to a bike, and realized that after a certain speed, the sweeper became very unstable and swung back and forth. This drove a whole new arrangement of our design and set us back for a couple of weeks.

With an intimidating mentor and a craving for perfection and approval, this was pretty challenging psychologically. However, I feel like this design process has taught me a lot about how to think through difficult problems from various aspects and not be satisfied with the aspects I immediately think of. I hope I can apply this in life’s other problems as well.

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