Winners announced for Fall 2023 Bernt O. Larson Project Design Award


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The Fall 2023 Bernt O. Larson Project Design Awardees have been announced!

Professor Bernt O. Larson was a faculty member from 1938 to 1974. He had a distinguished career including work within the Army and developing a concept of a capstone senior design course for General Engineering students. His work has helped students transition from academic life to the workforce.

This award was created to honor Larson's achievements. It was established when he retired in 1974.

The Fall 2023 First Place Project:

Project Name: Sheave Brake Design to Meet Explosion Proof Electrical Code 
Introduction: The project group worked with Harris Companies Inc., a leading player in the elevator and electric supplies industry based in Illinois, on a project focusing on both safety standards and market competitiveness. Specializing in emergency elevator brakes for hazardous locations, the company is currently navigating the challenge of high costs associated with certified rope grippers, hoping to use a sheave brake system instead. The key issue for the project is to redesign the sheave brake to meet explosion proof electrical code. In response, the project group worked out the optimal solution with low cost and least mechanical modifications – the implementation of intrinsically safe voltage boosters and barriers into the circuit of the sheave brake. This innovation not only addresses the company's cost concerns but also ensures compliance with explosion proof regulations.
The Fall 2023 Second Place Project:
Project Name: C.H.I. Overhead Doors – Strut Design Optimization 
Introduction: C.H.I. Overhead Doors (C.H.I.) manufactures a variety of commercial and residential overhead doors that are built to pass safety regulations throughout the United States, including the strict building code requirements of Miami-Dade (M-D) County, Florida. M-D County requires overhead doors to be able to withstand extreme wind load pressures and projectile impacts. To protect against such conditions, cold-formed steel struts are attached to the back of overhead doors, designed to strengthen and reinforce their structure. There are two C.H.I. strut designs that meet M-D County’s building code but have considerable drawbacks. The first is a Cee-strut that does not nest, is not aesthetically pleasing to residential customers, and requires supplemental installation. The second alternative is the Castle strut, which requires a one-time cost of $200,000 for new machines to manufacture. C.H.I. desires a redesigned, nestable strut that meets MD County's specifications, does not require additional costs to produce, and can be applied beyond M-D County’s small market share. The project group conducted preliminary cold-formed steel beam stress analyses and developed a non-linear program (NLP) to optimize a cross-section that adheres to regulations and project constraints. A series of parameter studies were conducted to identify optimal cross-sections. The data collected from these studies were tabulated in a comprehensive database, and two struts were selected for recommendation. A cost-benefit analysis was performed to ensure the proposed recommendations could be manufactured with current capabilities at a retooling cost of $60,000 to $80,000. The team recommends that one of the proposed designs replaces the Cee-strut. 


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This story was published January 4, 2024.