Make it Work: Meet Sean King, graduate assistant

Each of the Capstone Senior Design teams is able and encouraged to seek guidance outside of the classroom. The SAE Aero Micro team receives advice and direction outside of their coursework through additional talks with professors, meetings with local engineers and mechanical engineering graduate assistant, Sean King.

Each week, the Micro team has time to sit with King and discuss their calculations and designs for their plane.

At the midpoint of the semester, communications assistant M.B. Humphrey sat with King to talk about the ups and downs of the project and the team. Here’s the takeaway:

• On Aerodynamics
“One of the things that people generally run into is that we don’t have as many aero courses here, as say, a school with a full aerospace engineering program. A lot of the things students end up doing is sort of having to learn along the way.”

King said that having a “learn as you go” environment is generally not the most comfortable thing for students, but it does help them learn outside of the “well posed problem” environment that they are used to.

“Its pretty nice to learn to have the students go above and beyond to learn the aero design stuff. We have aerodynamics classes, but aerodynamics is only one part of building an airplane,” King said.

Sean King, left, looks over plans while talking with Micro team member Michael Basham.

Sean King, left, looks over plans while talking with Micro team member Michael Basham.

• On Working Together and Learning Efficiently
The team is at the end of the conceptual design phase and has gathered the appropriate tools and materials to build their plane over the holiday break. The team is prioritizing what most important for their plane as a project and as a competition piece. Weight reduction is a large part of airplane design, King said, and most of what they’re doing is ensuring that the plane is as light as possible.

“The aerodynamics part of the team is trying to make sure the plane is as stable as possible, too,” King said. “They’re priority is stability right now. Which is probably 90 percent of the battle.”

Electrical engineering senior Ryan Cenac, who is a part of the subgroup responsible for the electrical components of the plane, sought advice on the best server motor for the group, and when the appropriate time was to purchase it.

“With something this small scale, everything is sort of known already,” King said. “With RC (radio-remote control) hobbyists and the internet, people who do this make that sort of information known on forums, sharing the sorts of motors that work best. What I was kind of challenging was finding a better way of testing things, like motors and the varied outputs.”

Captain David Giurintano talks with the team about plans for the embodiment proposal and for the upcoming spring semester.

Captain David Giurintano talks with the team about plans for the embodiment proposal and for the upcoming spring semester.

• On the Program Overall
King said that the entire program has shown much progress. He explained that the teams are all on schedule more than they have been in the past. He said that stressing the time management and conducting consistent meetings with the teams probably aids in them staying on course.

“We’re directly asking where they are in terms of their design and where they’re going. We are trying to make sure they’re on track and if they aren’t on track, why they are not.” King said. “But, obviously, they aren’t going to be completely on track,” King said with a chuckle, explaining that they’ve never done this before, so they are all essentially making educated guesses.

Toward the end of the semester, the team did an embodiment proposal where they wrote a short report on the design they decided upon, and talked about how they will move forward from the final into the spring semester. The proposal also acted as a milestone to prove how they’re design works and that they are on track. Visit here in the spring semester to see how that presentation went.

Check out the video below to see clips of past LSU Micro teams during the SAE competition.

– written by M.B. Humphrey
Communications Assistant
LSU College of Engineering

Make it Work: Meet the SAE Aero Design Micro Team

This post is the first supplemental installment in our Make it Work: Senior Design Series, a collection of articles where the college will follow a competitive senior design team throughout both semesters of their Capstone Design project. Refer here for additional posts, photos, stories and information regarding the team. Visit our main website for the series.


Michael Basham

Michael Basham

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Fort Meyers, FL. Has lived in Central, Louisiana since 2002
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations: 
American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Your role in this Capstone Project: structural-design, stress analysis, material selection 
Favorite spot on campus: Middleton Library and Highland Coffees (not technically on campus)
Favorite spot in Louisiana: South Baton Rouge, New Orleans
Hobbies: Playing tennis, playing guitar and banjo, playing pool
What’d you do this summer? “I worked as an intern at Owen & White Consulting Engineers, an engineering consulting firm in Baton Rouge which specializes in water systems”


Stephen Capella

Stephen Capella

 Electrical Engineering
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations: 
Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps
Your role in this Capstone Project: To design and operate the propulsion system, consisting of the power supply and the motor 
Favorite spot on campus: EE Lab
Favorite spot in Louisiana: New Orleans
Hobbies: Music and golf



Ryan Cenac

Ryan Cenac

Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Kenner, LA
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations:
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Your role in this Capstone Project: Controls
Favorite spot on campus: LSU Student Union
Favorite spot in Louisiana: New Orleans
Hobbies: Going to the gym
What’d you do this summer? “I went to Los Cabos, Mexico for a wedding.”



Daniel Fouquet

Daniel Fouquet

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations: 
Previously: ASME, Intramural dodgeball, Honors College
Your role in this Capstone Project: Aerodynamics Team 
Favorite spot on campus: Patrick F. Taylor – Home away from home
Favorite spot in Louisiana: New Orleans, Superdome
Hobbies: Reading, catching up on the latest TV shows, biking and late night Wal-Mart runs to bake cakes.
What’d you do this summer? “I did an internship in New Orleans for a consulting engineering company, Infinity, specializing in Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering. Tightened up my AutoCAD skills and time management while there.”


Cade Hoerner

Cade Hoerner

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Aerospace Engineering
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations: 
American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and intramural soccer
Your role in this Capstone Project: Aerodynamics
Favorite spot on campus: Secret Subway
Favorite spot in Louisiana: South Baton Rouge, New Orleans
Hobbies: Soccer, guitar, slacklining and video games
What’d you do this summer? “I road tripped through the western U.S.” 



Tommy LeBeau

Tommy LeBeau

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Monroe, LA
Campus Involvement/Student Organizations: 
LSU Football Player
Your role in this Capstone Project: Team Leader 
Favorite spot on campus: Tiger Stadium/Death Valley, more specifically, the field
Favorite spot in Louisiana: Lake Providence
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and hanging out with my wife
What’d you do this summer? “I got married! I took summer classes to go toward my business minor and completed LSU football workouts/football fall camp.”


Ahmed Shawer

Ahmed Shawer

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Your role in this Capstone Project: structural-design, stress analysis, material selection 
Favorite spot on campus: The Quad
Favorite spot in Louisiana: None
Hobbies: Squash, running and reading
What’d you do this summer? “I spent the summer traveling and looking for Masters Schools.”



Jack Sim

Jack Sim

 Mechanical Engineering/Product Design Engineering
Hometown: New Cumnock, Scotland
Your role in this Capstone Project: CAD and Manufacturing
Favorite spot on campus: Parade grounds
Favorite spot in Louisiana: None, yet.
Hobbies: Rugby, running, squash, snowboarding, hill walking, hiking and mountaineering
What’d you do this summer? “I did a summer placement at a manufacturing plant in Scotland”



For more information about the series, check out our main website at or contact M.B. Humphrey at For more information on the history of the LSU Capstone Design Program, click here.

Senior Design Project: Solving Real-World Problems

This month’s blog post comes to us from Alex Beem, a senior majoring in petroleum engineering. Originally from Houston, Texas, Alex decided to pursue his passion for the oil and gas industry. After visiting LSU’s College of Engineering, Alex knew that Baton Rouge would be the place he would call home and earn his undergraduate degree.

A long journey will finally come to an end on May 15, 2015. It all started my freshman year with the basic arithmetic and science classes when I was trying to find my place in this new world we call “college.” As I worked my way through the course flowchart, I kept my focus on the prize; which was to graduate from LSU (and receive my ring and diploma). I entered my senior year as motivated as ever to reach this goal and the courses were much more interesting than the ones I had taken earlier in my college career. Before my classmates and I could graduate, we had one more task to complete: a Senior Design Project.

Alex Beem

Alex Beem

In case you are not familiar with the Senior Design course, it is a class that is required for LSU engineering students to graduate. Future engineers have the opportunity to showcase their knowledge by solving a problem for industry professionals. This class is two semesters long and is composed of two phases. The first phase is planning, while the second is implementation. The planning phase taught me the organizational skills I needed to achieve the task at hand, and the implementation phase showed me that not all things can be planned for.

My group did our project on “Decline Curve Analysis for Unconventional Reservoirs.” If you are familiar with the oil and gas industry, you know that a major hurdle has been crossed recently. Due to new technology, many companies have started drilling into shale formations as opposed to sand formations. A reservoir in a shale formation would be considered an “unconventional” reservoir. The project we are working on analyzes new methods of determining production rates from these formations, since research has proven that the old way of making these decline curves resulted in inadequate results.

When first learning about this project, we knew it would be a difficult project that could yield great results. My group consists of three other guys: Ryan Burke, Paul Caplis, and Stephen Harris. What was so great about this group is that we all had different strengths to offer the team. Paul utilized his skills with computer programming, and designed a program in MATLAB to run his simulation. Stephen did the same for his model, and offered some much needed charisma during our many presentations. Ryan was very good at understanding the big picture of the project, and used his experience from his past internships to help guide us in making a professional presentation. I used my organizational skills to effectively communicate with the group, plan meetings, and set deadlines for various facets of our project.

For our senior project, we each took a developed model and applied it to a specific geographic region. We then took the data that was made available to us and forecasted decline curves. After making our forecasts, we were able to show that certain methods worked better than others. My teammates and I are very proud of our project. We believe it is a very relevant issue, and that our project will make a difference for some companies in the industry.

Forecasted decline curves for senior design project

Forecasted decline curves for senior design project

When I was a senior in high school, I remember touring the petroleum department and seeing the students mixing mud in mud lab. I remember seeing people sitting in front of the computers in the Patrick F. Taylor computer lab with three or four books open at the same time trying to do their homework, and thinking to myself that will be me one day. I think the biggest thing I have taken away from my senior year at LSU is that all of the hard work from early on has finally paid off. It is rewarding to know that you can work hard, but also have fun with what you do. That is the purpose behind the senior design project. We are now equipped with the knowledge to solve real-world problems and we can find fun and creative ways to do it.

-Alex Beem
Petroleum Engineering

Research in the Real World

The LSU Honors College did a Q+A with one of our biological engineering graduates, Linda Cross, about her Honors Thesis research. For the original article by Liz Billet, please click here.

Tell me a little bit about you—where you’re from, how you ended up at LSU…

I’m from Ruston, Louisiana. LSU was always on the radar—I had some siblings who came to LSU, and I also have a sister who lives in Baton Rouge. Georgia Tech was my competitor with LSU. I got into their Honors program, I got into the Honors College [at LSU] and the deciding factor was money. LSU’s in-state, so that’s great.

Coming to Baton Rouge was a big change, population-wise. But I really found a place within the Honors College. It’s a small community within LSU.

Was there anything that surprised you about the Honors College when you got here? Anything that you weren’t expecting?

I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect with the classes, the rigor of the curriculum, what writing a thesis would actually entail. At the beginning, I had to get used to asking for help—get used to interacting with faculty and be able to go to them for assistance with Honors classes. I wasn’t used to not getting the material right away.

Did you find that faculty were receptive to you coming to them?

Definitely. They always want to see that you’re interested in the material and that you’re willing to learn it, and then they’ll help you from there—to teach you, at the beginning, how to learn it, and then from there, the specifics of their subjects.

So how did you get involved in your research?

I started in Biochemistry, but I said to myself, I really want a major that I can be more hands on with, that will apply more clearly in the real world. So I switched to Biological Engineering. I do research on nanoparticle biodistribution. I was planning on writing an Honors Thesis, but I didn’t know exactly what to do it on. I thought, maybe I’ll do it on my research; maybe I’ll do it on my senior design project. [All College of Engineering majors require a design project in the senior year.]

I ended up on an interdisciplinary senior design project—my teammates are mechanical engineers. One of my teammates, Amy Pinner, proposed the project last spring: to design an automated pressure sore reducer for wheelchair leg rests. I was interested in it, so I said, hey, I’ll be on the team. And when I got on to the team, I said, “I could really do more to improve the project through an Honors Thesis.”

Linda and her teammates

Linda and her teammates

Can you explain that to me—an automated pressure sore reducer?

Well, pressure sores result from, usually, over-bony prominences where you have a lot of pressure over a period of time. People with limited mobility don’t have the sensory perception to perceive that pain or discomfort over those areas, and they don’t have the motor control to reposition themselves. So our project worked to redistribute the legs, redistribute pressure, for them.

In the fall [of 2013] we were out in the community. We spoke with mobility-limited patients and wheelchair manufacturers and they gave us feedback on what they would want in the device—what they would actually use, what they have a need for. We also spoke with John Figarola at the National Hansen’s Disease Program Center in Baton Rouge, and they showed us the current technology and what’s being done about pressure sores right now. There’s the automated tilt-in-space wheelchair, which—the entire wheelchair, pretty much every part of it, moves up and down. But for a manual wheelchair there’s not automated technology for the feet. All of the technology revolves around the seat of the wheelchair—mobility limited patients have the technology to move the seat of their wheelchair, but they don’t have anything that moves their feet. So we tried to apply some of those concepts to our project, but with the leg rests. This spring we’ve been building and testing our prototype—with paraplegic and quadriplegic patients at the Hansen’s Disease Program and the Baton Rouge Clinic—to make sure it works.

Wheelchair Design with Pressure Sore Reducer

Wheelchair Design with Pressure Sore Reducer

I saw your presentation at the Honors College Undergraduate Research Colloquium—it seems like you were successful in reducing pressure at those points, but not temperature.

No, our prototype did not decrease temperature. We’re thinking that may correlate with blood flow. The right foot, which was our control foot, did decrease in temperature—we’re thinking that it lost some blood flow, and the left foot, which our prototype was moving, kept the blood flow.

Will you work on this project again in the future, do you think?

Yes—we were selected as one of the finalists for the ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] Undergraduate Design Competition. We’re presenting our prototype at the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics this July. For the conference we may do some additional testing. We have a list of future changes we’d like to make—like implementing a feedback system based on the sensors—and our pad was not as breathable as we would like. There are definitely still improvements to be made.

What else were you involved in during your time at LSU? I know you’re the outgoing president of the Honors College Student Council…

Yes. I originally got involved in a lot through the Honors College Student Organization Fair—I signed up on all the e-mail lists, thought “Oh, I’ll get involved in everything!”—I was a freshman—and when I went to the Honors College Student Council meetings—it was just very friendly and was a very close-knit community. They were very accepting of new members. And their activities were fun and engaging. So I continued in that. I was elected vice president of service [when I was a junior] and then this past year served as president.

What kind of service projects has HCSC organized?

We’ve done service with Best Buddies—we did a kickball tournament with them—and we’ve worked with the Baton Rouge Homeless Youth Program—we did their 2K Walk for Kicks, which raises shoes for homeless children in East Baton Rouge schools. This year we did a local playground build and we organized our first large scale project at the Burden Center, where we worked on reforestation projects.

The skills that I’ve learned through these positions—they’ve taught me a lot about organization, and communication, having to go between peers and faculty and staff. They will definitely apply, wherever I go.

Now that you’ve graduated, what are your plans for the future?

I’ve accepted a job at the Tulane Cancer Center in New Orleans as a Cancer Registry Assistant. I will be providing support for tumor boards—multidisciplinary cancer conferences [concerning patient treatment]. I’m hoping this work will provide me with clinical experience and the opportunity to follow cases and interact with doctors. So I’ll do that for the next year while I apply for medical school—I want to become a doctor. Right now I’m thinking something in orthopedics, because of my biological engineering background. I want to be directly involved in serving people.

What advice would you give to our incoming LSU Honors College freshmen?

Get involved! The Honors College is a community—it’s very easy to meet new people with similar interests, and goals, and ambitions, just by getting involved in the organizations, or in Laville [the Honors College residence hall]. They’ve developed a lot of programs and events for Laville, and it’s very convenient for getting to classes, or for forming study groups for those Honors classes. Because they are a challenge! It is extra work, but it’s challenging work that helps you develop as a person, both academically and professionally.

Senior Design and Student Competitions: The IEEE Regional Robotics Competition

Our team, representing LSU, placed third out of twenty universities at the 2014 IEEE Region 5 Student Robotics Competition. The competition was held on April 5, 2014 in Corpus Christi, Texas. The objective was to build a small robot that could extinguish a simulated oil rig fire on a predefined course. The robot had to determine which oil rig out of three was on fire, pick up the correct tool to extinguish the fire, navigate a maze, and use the tool to extinguish the fire. All tasks had to be completed in under four minutes, and points were awarded for number of tasks completed. The robot had to be completely autonomous, which means that it could not be controlled by anyone and had to perform all the tasks on its own.

We participated in the competition as part of our joint Senior Design project between the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering departments. Our team consisted of Nicolas Aguirre (EEC), Joshua Duncan (EE), Gregory Garner (EE), Collin Lee (ME), and Daniel Quebedeaux (EEC). We designed the robot during the Fall 2013 semester, and the manufacturing and testing took place over the Spring 2014 semester. The robot was designed and built from scratch and incorporated concepts from the electrical, computer, and mechanical disciplines.

Robotics Team Group Photo

Robotics Team Group Photo

Our team qualified for the Finals in the first of three qualifying rounds by being able to complete at least one task. After the first final round, we were tied for third with four other universities. In the tiebreaker round for third, we scored four out of the five possible points. This gave us the third place position and was the highest score achieved in competition play. We received many compliments from other universities on the design and performance of our robot. Our team was recognized at the Awards Banquet for placing third. We received certificates, student editions of the LabVIEW software, and a $200.00 cash prize.

We had to learn many technical skills in order to build a successful robot, in areas such as computer vision, microcontroller programming, mobile power, servo and motor control, and manufacturing. In addition to technical skills, we all had to learn about the design process, project management, budgeting, and working together as a team.

The most rewarding part for the team was seeing all of our hard work pay off. We also enjoyed talking with the other universities and discovering the many creative ways other teams approached the same problem. The whole experience increased our interest in the field of robotics.

  – Nicolas Aguirre, Joshua Duncan, Gregory Garner, Collin Lee, and Daniel Quebedeaux