Thesis Projects (last update May 21, 2019)

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The Honours Thesis research projects listed below are available only to McGill Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate students in the Honours program and registering in MECH 403-404 courses.

If you are interested in one of the thesis projects, please send an expression of interest to the contact email provided. Although we do our best to keep this list up to date, some projects may no longer be available.

If you are a professor who would like to add or remove a thesis project, please complete the honours project posting form

 

Projects for 2019-2020 school year:

 

Thesis Project 2019-1

Title: Kinetics of phase transformations in thin films
Supervisor: Prof. Srikar Vengallatore
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Thin film materials are ubiquitous in
microelectronics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). The structure and
properties of thin films are influenced by phase transformations that occur
during microfabrication. In this project, we seek to develop theories for the
kinetics of phase transformations in thin films. The research involves a
combination of analysis and computation.
Contact e-mail: srikar.vengallatore [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: May 12, 2019

 

Thesis Project 2019-2

Title: Fast prototyping of Capillaric Circuits, autonomous microfluidic devices for biomedical applications
Supervisor: Dr. Oriol Ymbern and Prof. David Juncker
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Capillaric Circuits (CCs) are self-powered microfluidic devices with many potential applications in analysis and biomedicine. CCs propel and control the flow of liquid using geometrically- and chemically-encoded structures, and can implement a rich set of fluidic functionalities, such as sequential delivery of liquids for pre-programmed assays. They can integrate on the same platform all the steps of the analytical process without moving parts or external power supply, from sample pre-treatment to detection. In the last few years, 3D printing and rapid prototyping have been adopted for manufacturing of CCs, but they are not readily adaptable for mass production. The objective of the project is to implement fast prototyping microfabrication techniques for the CC that can bridge the gap between lab prototyping and mass fabrication such as micromilling and hot embossing. The candidate’s task will be (i) to develop and implement new prototyping methods for the fabrication process of microfluidic devices, (ii) to characterize them via physical and image techniques, and (iii) the fluidic testing and optimization of CCs in a biomedical laboratory environment employing different state-of-the-art microfabrication and characterization techniques.

Contact e-mail: oriol.ymbernllorens [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 3, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2019-3

Title: Wind tunnel investigation of a propeller in oblique flow
Supervisor: Prof. Jovan Nedic and Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Quadrotors are increasingly being used in outdoor
flight with significant wind speeds. In these situations, the flow through
the propeller disc enters at an angle to the propeller axis. While some work exists in this area, most of this work only looks at
how this affects the thrust generated by the propeller. We are interested in
measuring all three forces and all three moments generated by the propeller
under these conditions. The motor/propeller will be mounted on a six-axis
load cell to measure these forces and moments, at various flow speeds and
propeller spin rates. The data will be used to fit a model for use in our
aircraft simulations. For background work, see:
https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/IJIUS-06-2015-0007
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 21, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2019-4

Title: Wind tunnel investigation of propeller slipstream
Supervisor: Prof. Jovan Nedic and Prof. Meyer Nahon
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: An increasing number of unconventional platforms
are being proposed for small unmanned aircraft, in order to improve their
performance. One feature that is becoming increasingly common is the use of
the propeller slipstream (the airflow behind a propeller) to improve the
controllability or the aerodynamic efficiency of the aircraft. This project
aims at a better understanding of the slipstream behind a propeller, with
increasing oncoming flow. A previous study was done to study the slipstream
without oncoming flow, and we would like to investigate how this is affected
by the forward motion of the aircraft. A hot wire anemometer will be used to
measure the slipstream, and the data will be used to fit a model for use in
our aircraft simulations. For background work, see:
https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/1.C033118
Contact e-mail: meyer.nahon [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 21, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2019-5

Title: Modelling and optimization of a floating modular cover for
direct absorption solar receivers
Supervisor: Prof. Melanie Tetreault-Friend
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Harnessing the Sun’s energy into a renewable, low-carbon heat source for
power generation is the basis of solar thermal energy technologies.
Concentrated solar power plants use mirrors to concentrate natural sunlight
hundreds to thousands of times, producing excess thermal energy during the
day that can be stored at low-cost, and used during night-time operation to
dispatch electricity 24/7. Increasing the operating temperatures of the solar
receivers used to capture and convert solar energy into thermal energy leads
to higher heat engine efficiencies, which in turn reduces the levelized cost
of electricity. However, the benefits of operating at higher temperatures are
often offset by significant thermal losses. We recently developed a new
solar-transparent floating modular cover for molten salt solar receivers. The
insulating cover significantly reduces convective and radiative losses, and
minimizes the surface area available for evaporation losses. This project
will focus on modelling and testing the radiative losses through the
insulating cover to further optimize the design. Monte Carlo ray tracing
methods will be used to calculate photon transport in the system. Students
interested in alternative energy technologies, numerical methods, radiative
heat transfer, and optics are encouraged to apply.
Contact e-mail: melanie.tetreault-friend [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: December 5, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2019-6 

Title: Development of a method for recycling fibreglass composite
wind turbines
Supervisor: Prof. Larry Lessard
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: There is growing concern about recycling of end-of-life composite materials.
Waste fiber and other materials cannot be put into landfills so recycling
methods must be developed.  Used wind turbine blades can be recycled to
recover the fibers and these fibers can be re-used to make materials for 3D
printing.  So this project aims to solve two simultaneous problems: that of
growing amounts of waste and the need for stronger/more high tech materials
for the growing 3D printing industry.
The project involves experimental manufacturing based on composite materials
theory.
Contact e-mail: larry.lessard [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: May 21, 2019

 

Thesis Project 2019-7

Title: Shape transforming metamaterials for soft robotics
Supervisor: Prof. Damiano Pasini
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2019 or Winter 2020
Brief description: Mechanical metamaterials are manmade materials,
usually fashioned from repeating units, which are engineered to achieve
extreme mechanical properties, often beyond those found in most natural
materials. In this project, the student will use the lens of mechanics of materials to generate material concepts for soft robotics.
Additive manufacturing techniques will be employed to fabricate prototypes and their performance will be examined through mechanical testing.
Contact e-mail: damiano.pasini [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: May 21, 2019

 

Projects for 2018-2019 school year:

may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out.

 

Thesis Project 2018-11

Title: Dynamics of photon-driven lightsails for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: The use of lasers to propel sails via direct photon pressure has the
potential to achieve very high velocity spaceflight, greatly exceeding
traditional chemical and electric propulsion sources, and enables the serious
consideration of interstellar flight.  However, the dynamics and stability of
thin sails (lightsails) under intense laser illumination is an outstanding
problem.  This project will examine the dynamics of very thin membranes both
theoretically and experimentally.  The response of a lightsail to
perturbation will be analyzed both analytically and via computer simulation.
Use of gasdynamic loading techniques (shock tube) will enable the same
driving load to be applied in the laboratory, but without the use of
megawatt-class lasers.  Experimental diagnostic techniques (photonic doppler
velocimetry, 3-D digital image correlation) will be developed to study the
lightsail dynamics that will eventually be applied to a laser-driven sail
proof-of-concept facility.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in physical optics, numerical
simulation, and experimental techniques.
Skills involved:  Experience with photography and high-speed data acquisition
would be helpful.  Completion of Mech 321 (Mechanics of Deformable Solids)
and Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-12

Title: Dynamic soaring on a shock wave
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Dynamic soaring is a technique exploited by birds and sailplanes to increase
their flight speed by exploiting differences in airspeed of different masses
of air.  This project will explore this approach by examining dynamic soaring
of a hypersonic glider on a shock wave.  In essence, the technique consists
of “bouncing” back and forth from either side of a shock wave via a high
lift-to-drag turn, increasing the net velocity of the glider.  The ability to
“surf” on a very strong blast wave (such as resulting from a
thermonuclear blast or asteroid impact) from ground all the way to space will
be explored. The use of the technique on shock waves that occur in
interplanetary space (coronal mass ejections, etc.) that might enable
spacecraft to be accelerated to very high velocities “for free” will also
be explored.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts and flight dynamics, with general background in
numerical simulation.
Skills involved:  Completion of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for the
project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-13

Title: Rapid transit within the solar system via directed energy:
laser thermal vs. laser electric propulsion
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Directed energy in the form of a ground or space-based laser providing power
to a spacecraft is a disruptive technology that could enable a number of
rapid-transit missions in the solar system and interstellar precursor
missions.  This project will compare two different approaches for a
spacecraft to utilize beamed laser power:  (1) laser thermal propulsion,
wherein a laser is focused into a chamber to heat propellant that is expanded
through a nozzle and (2) laser electric propulsion, wherein a laser  directed
onto a photovoltaic array generates electricity to power electric propulsion
(ion engine, etc.).  These two concepts will be compared for a number of
missions of interest, as defined by NASA:  (1) Earth orbit to Mars orbit in
no more than 45 days and (2) Traversing a distance of 125 AU in no more than
ten years.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in physical optics and
numerical simulation.
Skills involved:  Prior exposure to spacecraft mission design (e.g.,
experience with ‎Kerbal Space Program, etc.) would be helpful.  Completion
of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) and Mech 346 (Heat Transfer) is required for the
project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-14

Title: Impact of dust grain on lightsails for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Laser-driven lightsails are a promising technique for interstellar flight,
however, sails will experience impacts of dust grains in the interplanetary
and interstellar medium.  The impact of a sub-micron grain can deposit as
much as 1 J of energy into the sail when travelling at speeds necessary for
interstellar flight.  This project will examine the subsequent dynamics of
the sail and the damage incurred.  This problem will be modelled both
analytically and numerically, and experiments will be performed in the lab
with gas gun-launched particles onto candidate thin-film materials.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with general background in materials and stress/strain,
numerical simulation, and experimental techniques.
Skills involved:  Experience with ANSYS would be very enabling for the
project. Experience with photography and high-speed data acquisition would be
helpful.  Completion of Mech 321 (Mechanics of Deformable Solids) is required
for the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-15

Title: Percolation model for detonation in a system of discrete energy sources
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: Detonation waves propagating in combustible gas mixtures exhibit very complex
dynamics, with transverse and longitudinal shock waves that sweep across the
front.  This project will attempt to model this process by treating
detonation as an ensemble of interacting blast waves.  Approximate, analytic solutions of
blast waves will be used to treat the problem.  Results
will be interpreted with the assistance of percolation theory, a branch of
statistical physics.  Results will also be compared to reactive Euler
simulations using supercomputing resources.
Skills required:  Strong coding skills (language of your choice) and
awareness in advanced mathematics is of interest.
Personnel sought:  Completion of Mech 430 (Fluids 2) is required for this
project. Interest in nonlinear physics and pattern formation in nature would
provide helpful motivation for this project. Exposure to concepts in
statistical physics (Ad. Thermo) is also desirable.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Thesis Project 2018-16

Title: Pellet stream propulsion for interstellar flight
Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Higgins
The term(s) to begin:Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Fall 2019
Brief description: A promising approach to deep space propulsion that may enable interstellar
flight is pellet stream propulsion, wherein high velocity pellets (with
velocity exceeding that of the spacecraft) are used to impart momentum onto a
spacecraft.  Such a pellet stream may be able to be collimated and focused
over much greater distances than a laser beam, making it an attractive
alternative to laser-driven directed energy.  This project will examine the
ability of a charged particle to be steered and re-directed via a static
magnetic field (e.g., quadrupole beam steering, etc.), both via computer
simulation and experimental testing in the lab.  The ability to steer a small
(mm to cm scale) pellet via magnetic field of rare earth magnets at speeds of
~1 km/s would be a significant validation of the concept.
Personnel sought:  Student should have a strong interest in advanced space
exploration concepts, with strong background in electromagnetism and physics.
Interest in or familiarity with conventional, fundamental particle
accelerators would be desirable.
Skills involved:  Basic coding skills (language of your choice) and numerical
simulation is required. Experience with basic electronics and
microcontrollers (Arduino, etc.) and 3-D printing would be very helpful for
the project.
Contact e-mail: andrew.higgins [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: September 12, 2018

 

Projects for 2017-2018 school year:

may or may not be still available - you may use contact e-mails to find out.

 

Thesis Project  2017-2

Title Device fabrication for the imaging of protein secretions from live tissue
Supervisor: Prof. David Juncker
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2017
Brief description: Powerful tools have been developed to spatially quantify the expression of multiple proteins in cells within tissue. However, spatial information about the secreted proteins has remained elusive as these proteins are typically measured in supernatant fluid. The Honours candidate will work with a team of graduate students developing a detection method for secreted proteins from live cells with spatial and temporal resolution. The candidate’s task will be to develop the fabrication process of the hydrogel-based device, and characterize it via confocal microscopy. Major activities of this project include: (i) 3D printing, (ii) design and fabrication of microfluidic devices, and (iii) confocal microscopy of fabricated devices.
Contact e-mail: david.juncker [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 16, 2017

 

Thesis Project  2017-3 

Title: Research on detonation
Supervisor: Prof. John Lee
The term(s) to begin: Fall 2017 or Winter 2018
Brief description: A number of research projects in the general area of detonation are available. Details will be provided in person.
Contact e-mail: john.lee [at] mcgill.ca

Posted: August 16, 2017