Students put their education to work tackling industry projects for WMU’s Senior Engineering Design Conference

Contact: Liz VandenHeede

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—From addressing needed improvements for a town’s drinking water system to developing an interactive bike routing app to designing a tankless water heater using induction heating, Western Michigan University seniors are putting their knowledge to work tackling future needs of industry. Student teams will present a variety of innovative projects at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ 73rd Senior Engineering Design Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Students will showcase and demonstrate their capstone projects from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences on WMU’s Parkview Campus. The event is free and open to the public. Read the descriptions and times for all projects.

This fall, more than 30 projects will be presented by teams of students from the departments of civil and construction engineering; computer science; electrical and computer engineering; engineering design, manufacturing and management systems; industrial and entrepreneurial engineering and engineering management; and mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Induction Tankless Electric Water Heating

Looking to the future as regulatory changes will require higher efficiency water heating products and some states are requiring electric residential water heating, a group of seniors developed a solution as their Senior Engineering Design project.

Mechanical and aerospace engineering students Steve Berg, Vidya Das and Gavin Hankins worked with their industry sponsor, Chad VanderRoest, senior director of engineering at Bradford White Corporation, to develop an induction tankless electric water heater. Bradford White is an industry-leading American manufacturer of water heaters, boilers and storage tanks. Bradford White has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Michigan, where they design, engineer and build residential and commercial products and solutions for water heating. 

“Bradford White appreciates the commitment and passion that the students demonstrated throughout their senior design project and their critical thinking,” says VanderRoest. “I valued the opportunity to be an industry sponsor for the induction tankless electric water heater team and work with these students, and faculty members, to ensure their success.”

The team hopes its project and the information and data collected will help Bradford White in their continued development of innovative water heating solutions.

“Future regulatory requirements and the push for electrification inspired our group to explore alternative ways to heat water more efficiently,” says Berg. “We thought it would be good to explore induction heating in conjunction with a tankless water heater. Tankless style water heaters eliminate standby losses and induction heats the water without the use of an electric resistive heating element which are prone to calcium buildup and failure.” 

Village of Decatur—Drinking Water System Improvements Project

Another group of students looked at a local municipality’s water system and identified improvements aimed at ensuring unlimited access to clean and safe drinking water for current residents and future generations. Civil and construction engineering students Oliver Winter, Joe Delmotte, Alex Wheeler and Ryan Cronin collaborated with their industry sponsor, Andrew Rudd, B.S.E.’13, a civil engineer at Wightman, on the project for the village of Decatur, Michigan.

"Throughout the process we learned that there are multiple paths to developing a solution, but we wanted to focus on the one that would be most beneficial to the residents of Decatur," says Wheeler. "We are grateful for our instructors for providing us with the material required to be successful in this experience, and for friends and family for giving us their full support as we finish our final semester at WMU."

Read more about WMU’s Senior Engineering Design Conference

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