ME Capstone: Recycling Collection

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 13 April 2018

Capstone design for mechanical engineering is a year-long course where a small group of seniors are assigned a client and work together through the engineering process from problem identification to delivering a prototype.

For my capstone project, I have been paired with a local non-profit called Rural Action Zero Waste Initiative, RA ZWI for short.RA ZWI works to divert waste from landfills by cleaning up after local festivals and sorting the trash to send it to its appropriate recycling or compost location.

The problem that my team is looking to solve is to collect a large majority of what they call bulk trash—plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and other waste—in a time period of around 30 minutes. They are having a problem cleaning around the stage area effectively in the short amount of time between the end of the show and when heavy equipment comes in to break down the stage. When this equipment comes in, it tears up the ground and compacts any remaining trash into making it much more difficult to collect.

The client has tried to use some off the shelf solutions before in ways that they were not designed to operate which proved somewhat effective, but nowhere near durable enough and constantly breaking. To solve the issue at hand, and continue the trend of recycling, my team has decided to use a leaf sweeper housing and hopper that RA ZWI has utilized in the past with some effectiveness, but we have designed in a number of improvements to solve the issues and make it more reliable.

After some initial rapid prototyping, we were able to pitch the design to our faculty mentor and our client and are currently rounding out the manufacturing of our prototype. Following the prototype being completed, we will have a number of tests to conduct and make any adjustments to the design to improve its collection efficiency before delivering it to the client and putting it through its paces with them in the coming weeks.

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