Every semester young and old members of the HYPER lab complete a work specification document and review it with Mark Parsons and I. This work spec develops an anticipated plan for the term while identifying ideal team-mates and overall goals. Ideally, this plan merges the personal drive and overarching individual goals with those of the lab. At the end of the term the final story of work is submitted in a format that allows the story of what was accomplished to be easily told to potential employers or supporters. To build on this tradition, I realized this summer that these stories have a greater collective value to not only us but those supporting us to create these stories. So this summer we’re experimenting with having the collection tell our story of summer 2020. As always, comments are appreciated. Enjoy!
From The Management Team
At the start of this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic we had no idea when we’d even regain access to the lab, let alone continue the progression of research. Thankfully, with multiple teams already gelled and many on their way, we were able to shift to mostly remote work with Zoom relatively easily. Due to project deliverables coming due and requests from the project leads to regain access, I successfully lobbied the WSU leadership to regain limited access back to the lab to resume activities following severe social distancing and disinfecting protocols. In the face of this adversity the stories below were forged. As you’ll see from the stories, this is likely the most productive summer the HYPER lab has ever had!
The biggest change, which is not as apparent to those outside the lab, is how we structure information as a laboratory. This change came from our Core Team — mostly freshman and a sophomores. The change process for the website is described here. The enthusiasm of these newest lab members to write and contribute is inspiring and contagious (in a good way). You’ll see the ramifications of this change in the increasing lab-wide engagement with our core learnings on the website that are directly relevant to our lab and regional constituents. With this pipeline of people now taking shape, we’re emerging as a lab community into entirely rarefied space in terms of professional performance. Watch as the stories change and advance in the coming semesters. These original stories exemplify the amazing group of people we are so priveledged to work with.
Just when I think we’ve reached the limit of what we’ll do as a group, I realize yet again that it’s about to get even more exciting.
Thank you sincerely, our constituents, for your continued support, attention, and engagement!
The Core Team is comprised of the newest lab members and is tasked with furthering our community of professional practice. As such, the Core Team works on projects that have the potential to effect all of the teams in the lab. As such, each Core Team member works closely with Jake Leachman and Mark Parsons.
I was in over my head. The formulas on screen and the dozens of open tabs began to swim and a piercing headache derailed my train of thought. “What had I been thinking?” I closed my eyes to avoid staring at the scattered background research done for my summer project. Breathe.
I am a student entering their second year at WSU through the engineering college. I have only taken one semester of physics (with an atrocious teacher nonetheless) and have not yet taken statics. Why did I think I could create an engineering solution to aid the setup of a Schlieren Imaging System? Entering this project, I knew how to use a camera from years of photography but had never combined this with engineering. Nevertheless, I was in the pursuit of an “Awesome Engineering Achievement” beyond my high school shop and recently completed CAD classes. So, I did a lot of learning. I learned about Snell’s Law, about setting parameters following the Agile System for a project’s product and timeline, about changing requirements from the product owner, about rapidly iterating through designs with CAD and 3D printing, and countless other concepts that are sure to be of use in engineering and otherwise (press-fit vs. slip-fit, formal project proposals, etc).
So now, I have completed the Schlieren jig I set out to make, although it doesn’t look anything like my initial concepts. I’ve called it the Schlieren Imaging Aid System (SIA System) and have used it to take some spectacular images, all from one tripod.
In addition, this summer I helped renovate the HYPER Website, create the Project Management 101 page, and design HYPER facemasks (thanks COVID!). It was a busy summer, but through the support of the Core Team, the guidance of Jake, and pure engineering stubbornness, everything worked out and I’ll be transferring to the CHEF or a NASA project team during the fall semester. Take a moment. Close your eyes. Just, breathe. Everything will work out.
“So, it sounds like safety is an important part of the lab.” Little did I know that one sentence in my HYPER interview would lead to a summer packed with unlimited learning opportunities, countless hours of exhilarating work, and, as Jake would say, one freakishly awesome achievement.
Hydrogen research lab. Before my interview for HYPER, the first thing that came to my mind was rocket fuel. The second thing that came to my mind was safety. How do you go about safely performing experiments on cryogenic hydrogen in order to make it safe not just for things like rocket and car fuel, but for the general public to use? I followed my curiosity for safety and four months later I’d completed a directed studies course with Jake based around engineering safety and, with the help of Jake and other experienced professionals, I’d constructed an entire webpage with HYPER Lab specific Safety procedures and examples.
As this summer is coming to a close, I look back and realize that I’ve learned so much more than just how engineering safety works. I’ve learned how to work with a team of professionals and how to build, foster, and be a part of a professional community. And the thing is, I’m just getting started. Even though I have learned so much this summer, I’ve only just dipped my toes in the infinite pool of learning. I know now that that if I follow my passion, curiosity, and drive towards engineering and aerospace I will end up doing work that I enjoy and that allows me to grow as a person and as a professional.
Charles (Chase) Phillips
I had no idea what I wanted to do. A fan blew in the background as I sat there, a glazed look on my face, looking into the void. A million thoughts swirled as I attempted to conceive my summer project, and I had no idea where to start. My first year of college just ended, and I had a fantastic time. Through meeting new people, having a great academic year, and getting my first job at HYPER, I grew as a person. “What about putting together a HYPER reading list”? No, there is already a list, a dead end.
Summer held its challenges. It was the middle of the COVID pandemic, so all work had to be done online. The Core Team decided to renovate the HYPER website, a heavy lift. On top of that, I was taking physics 201 online with a challenging professor. I had little time outside of the site and class. “Oh, I could work on the work spec document, or brainstorm cold saw improvements.” No, that doesn’t fit Jake’s awesome engineering achievement. Another dead end. The hardest part was figuring out what to do on my own. To overcome this difficulty, I did some soul searching. What are my interests? Currently…energy. What are my passions? I want to help save the environment. How does this connect to HYPER? Clean energy storage systems. That was it. After a long journey, I decided to do my project on a hydrogen storage system. It would connect to a hydrogen 101 page, showing what I learned along the way.
Now, at the end of summer, I am still working on it. This project, like many things, is a continuous work in progress. I am a work in progress. I am continuing to explore my interests and see where they take me. They are taking me back to Pullman this fall, with more excitement than I had as a freshman. Looking ahead, I’m going to join the Titan team for its new project and explore where that path leads me.
The CRyogenic Accelerated Fatigue Tester (CRAFT) is a new cryogenic experimental facility that began to take physical shape during the summer of 2020.
I have no idea what was going through my head at the beginning of this summer. I somehow thought it would be a great idea to take three heavy engineering courses at 10 credits, start at HYPER, and work a high stress weekend job as well. I absolutely had my “what did I get myself into” moments. But those were few and far in between. My concern was not, “could I do it?” but rather “could I do it well?”. I truly believe anyone can do anything, but doing those things well, is a completely different story. Completion does not matter if you do not learn what you need to or perform with a certain level of quality. I knew I had to plan every day out to make sure I would succeed. Every day was wake up early, study, classes, HYPER, workout, study, sleep, repeat. I did not think I would love such a structured schedule so much. And even with it all, I still managed to have time for fun and socialization. I will admit, it took a lot more discipline than I thought I had. Of course, there were the occasional slipups, but I still hit all my goals and many unintentional ones along the way as well. There were hard days, not doubt. But I managed to check all those boxes from work to school, holding my head high, and still with an elevated level of enthusiasm, energy, and confidence.
In regard to HYPER, it has not even been three months and I can not list on one page all that I have learned and accomplished in such a short time, in the middle of a pandemic might I add. Within the first few weeks, even with onboarding tasks, I knew I needed to document what all I had done because there was already so much, and I did not want to forget. I had not even stepped foot in the labs, but that list started to fill the page very quickly. (I broke it into sections of each Sprint, what I did, and what I took away from the experience). I was no doubt intimidated at first in terms of lack of experience. (This is my first engineering job in a professional sense). I sat quietly in the zoom meetings trying to soak up as much information as I could. From HAZOPs to meetings with the Dana shop for submitting parts to be manufactured. But I very quickly grew out of that quietness and am amazed by the confidence I have gained in such a short time from interactions with others to performing tasks.
The problem with academia is that we are often taught that there is a right and a wrong answer. It has by far been the biggest challenge in my academic career because the grades only reflect being right or wrong. They do not truly access what you actually know. I thrive on holistic teaching methods but unfortunately there are very few professors that teach that way. With that in mind, one of the most valuable lessons that I learned this summer is that there is not just a right and wrong answer or way of doing something. You have to experiment and try many new things in order to get an answer or even just formulate a hypothesis. There is a lot of trial and error. Then you support your hypothesis with tests. We really need to get away from the whole concept of definitively being wrong or right because that is just not practical and if anything, hinders us as a society. Also, no matter the experience level, we are always learning. I have constantly been told that, but it still can be intimidating. So to have someone with years of experience or just heaps more than you, say “they don’t know” is honestly one of the most relieving things in terms of reflecting on myself and being able to say “I definitely don’t know.” I absolutely am one of those people that want to figure things out and am not okay with just leaving something without finding an answer. But again, there is not just one way. I have learned, as engineers, we do not find the answers, we make them.
Nobody told me getting a Ph.D. included working through a worldwide pandemic. Where was that in the introductory welcome package? The past 4 months of a 19-month journey has been dominated by the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, but through it all the growth and success experienced has been insurmountable.
In this short period of time, CRAFT has gone from 50% to 80% completed. I have had the opportunity to focus my efforts into mentoring a team to the best of my abilities, ensuring their confidence was at such a level that the training wheels could come off. We designed, built, and tested systems in such a short period of time that it would take too long to discuss here. However, the key takeaways apply to all teams in HYPER and have broad implications for our success within the university system:
- A confident and independent team are key characteristics for giving a project lead room to divert efforts to other, critical tasks. Challenge your teams EARLY.
- Establish boundaries within the team where necessary. Efficient and honest communication is the best way to cut-out the subtle nuances of human interaction that often leave team members nervously tiptoeing around a task.
- Building team-members is more valuable in the long run than building “things”. Spend great effort in building your team, giving your members the room to struggle independently, but with the relief of small wins here and there to keep forward momentum.
- Do not overcomplicate things. Keep your language simple – sophisticated jargon means nothing to the uninitiated.
- Lastly: Be kind, patient, and understanding. Life throws wrenches, and people do not like being backed into a corner. Leave breathing room.
As the CRAFT team transitions into the final summer months, we look forward to finishing CRAFT. However, we already have our sights set on creating a team atmosphere unrivaled in the lab. CRAFT is just the beginning, so be ready for what we have in store.
This impromptu team formed in the summer of 2020 to address a key challenge: how to correlate transport properties of highly quantum fluids using traditional thermodynamic properties.
When I envisioned joining a lab on campus as an undergraduate, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted to open doorways into research and graduate school. I knew the deeper I went into my field, especially now as a senior, the more I was realizing how much I cared about the environment. I noticed more and more ethical dilemmas internally pop up as I continued with materials engineering, especially concerning the issues of fracking, natural gasses, and oil, and industry’s impact on the environment while utilizing these methods. You wouldn’t think such an objective field would have so much ‘gray space’ in terms of ethics, but I knew I wanted to make a difference through the work I created, and to make the world a better place. I wanted to make lasting impacts in engineering continue to meet our growing global energy needs sustainable, clean and manageable.
When I first heard of HYPER back in March, I was intrigued by the mission; to create clean energy using cryogenic hydrogen and modify technology to propel sustainable manufacturing and fuel forward. Curious, I met with Dr. Jacob Leachman, the lab director.
I will be the first to admit, it was an interview I was very caught off-guard with. I was asked questions like, “If you had 5 million dollars, what would you do with it?”, and “Why do you like engineering?” He wanted to know what made me tick as a person and as a scientist. He wanted me to integrate with and to advance the lab’s culture and freeform thinking, and to put me on a project that would, in his words, be “putting the right carrot in front of the right rabbit”. He wanted me to actually like the work that I was doing; to be passionate about it, and proud of the progress and results I would culminate.
Fortunately, my passion for quantum physics granted me a spot to reach for a seemingly unreachable carrot; to quantify the correlation between cryogenic viscosity and residual entropy in quantum fluids, based off of the work of Dr. Yaakov Rosenfeld and Dr. Ian Bell. If successful, it would and solve challenges traditionally faced by accruing accurate models. It would deepen our fundamental understanding of quantum fluids.
A few days after I hired in, COVID-19 started to sweep through Washington state. Everything shut down. Although very enthused by the idea, I had never really worked in a theoretical lab environment, let alone a lab at the caliber of HYPER. I certainly had an adjustment period where I made my fair share of mistakes, but I was starting to grow in areas I hadn’t before. My team of three, Dr. Leachman, Jordan Raymond, and I, also started to dig into the evolution of understanding of our topic through lectures and journal articles in transport phenomena and nonequilibrium thermodynamics.
After weeks of scouring papers, (I could probably now recite the 1999 Rosenfeld paper, “Probing the link between residual entropy and viscosity of molecular fluids and model potentials” with the same distinction as the Pledge of Allegiance), we came to a hypothesis of variable replacement. And the models started lining up.
This is the point where I knew I wanted to continue on with research into graduate school. I had my first interview and was granted an informal offer. (Nothing official yet, so I’ll keep schools/names to myself until it’s all on paper… no jinxing it!) I was so excited to see my work falling into place and opening other doors, as well.
I prepared a presentation of my team’s progress this summer (which I have attached) and discussed it with Dr. Leachman and one of our colleagues from NIST, Dr. Ian Bell, who is also investigating our query. Dr. Bell countered with some interesting takes on our models, suggesting we eliminate mass of the particle from our calculations and telling us to investigate more into number density. This meeting helped me to determine my goals for next semester.
Moving forward, my goals for the upcoming semester are to:
- Modify models using Dr. Bell’s suggestions of eliminating mass in our scaled viscosity equations and using number density instead of particle density in scaled viscosity equations
- If the models show correlation, reproduce Bell’s 2018 graphs using our modified equations
- Assuming everything goes well to this point, test other quantum fluids to evaluate scaling accuracy
- If the findings conclusively increase accuracy, publish
I’m looking forward to another great semester full of learning, growth, and the pursuit of something bigger than myself.
The Tank team works with Dr. Patrick Adam to test the world’s first 3D printed liquid hydrogen tank.
Top 3 memorable quotes from my childhood:
“No, you’re not going to build a bomb in the backyard.”
“What are you doing in the garage at midnight?”
“Ask your mother.”
In reality, the ‘bomb’ was more closely related to rocket fuel, but what’s the difference to a suburban kid’s parents. I will give them some credit though as I am almost 23 years old and I still have all my fingers.
I have seldom found myself in a situation that I am now. COVID-19 has dropped a wrench in everybody’s plans, and no one knows when the machine is going to get back up and running. I was affected by this situation like many other college students, and I found myself with a considerable loss in motivation. I started to recede back into my shell, and for a few weeks I did only what was asked of me, not much else. It was not rewarding in the slightest. The turnaround point for me was something that Jake Leachman said to our group, “It occurred to me today that the only people who have not succeeded in the lab over the years are the ones that get very quiet and prefer to work in isolation. The sooner you overcome your fears the sooner you will start getting the feedback necessary to perform”. I had never thought of myself as the type to get quiet and work in isolation, yet here I was doing exactly that. The whole COVID-19 situation has forced us apart more than ever creating a unique situation where you must put in a ton of effort to work together. The first step in overcoming my isolation was reaching out to other lab members for help. I made connections with my peers, and work that felt stagnant before became a challenge that was worth pursuing. It felt good to finally get the feedback necessary to perform from both my peers and my mentors.
This summer I have been working on the Protium Tank Team with the WSU HYPER Lab. My goal when I first started on the project was to develop a way to test and monitor data for hydrogen pressure vessels for use in hydrogen powered drones. My early days involved a designing a quick release for the hydrogen transfer line used to fill the tank. With the rapid prototyping and manufacturing processes available to me through the university, my design quickly manifested, and I was ready to move on to tank testing. I began with the design and manufacture of a mobile testing station; this station is capable of monitoring pressure and temperature data via 3 pressure transducers and two temperature sensors. Wiring and electronics has never been my forte, however this project presented the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about something I would otherwise avoid. I developed my skills in cable routing, electronics, hydrogen safety, programmable logic controllers and data acquisition with much help from fellow undergraduates Leif Harfst and Jordan Kurtz. The hardest part of this process was the hydrogen safety and wiring safety standards I had to adhere to while building the test station. This required loads of help and feedback from people like Eli Shoemake and Ian Richardson, two experts on hydrogen safety and hazardous area classifications.
Finally, July 13, 2020 had arrived. The day the lead project sponsor was scheduled to come and test their hydrogen fuel cell with my system and the 3D printed tank. I was nervous. Would the sensors work? Would the PLC acquire and record data correctly? Would the transfer line make a proper connection ensuring no leaks? Would we all vaporize in a hydrogen fueled fireball??? I am happy to say one of those things did not happen (the part that leads to a firey demise). The company sponsor rolled up to the H2Flo facility on that Monday morning with fuel cell in hand and a smile on his face. We had three successful tests over two days with outstanding performance of the tank, fuel cell and testing station. I had some nice conversations with the sponsor about what it is like working in the Aerospace industry, and I can’t wait to see how much more progress we can make on the project. None of this could have been completed without complete and utter confidence in me from Patrick Adam. Patrick is my go-to for all engineering/design related questions as well as mountain biking/hiking banter.
All in all my first ~7/8 months with HYPER has been a fun fueled roller coaster with its ups and downs. I have made so many great connections and friendships that will last far beyond my time with the lab. I can’t help but connect all experiences to mountain biking, seeing as that is all I really do when I’m not studying or working. The work required to pedal up the mountain is grueling and it is definitely easier to turn back and go home. If you turn back you will never get to experience the joy and euphoria of riding down the mountain having accomplished greatness. Though we will be limited in Fall because of COVID, I am confident I have the help and support to make it up the mountain in times of low motivation and people to enjoy the ride down with when we hit a milestone. Here’s to a productive and fun filled final semester at WSU!
Last year, I had a friend working on a controller board for the HYPER Tank team and after helping him design his first PCB, I always thought the job he was working seemed pretty cool. Fast forward to the end of Spring semester, my friend notified me that someone needed to continue his project since he had graduated. I immediately jumped on the opportunity, and not long after joining the team I realized the great choice I had made.
Although I have much experience designing circuits from scratch through personal projects as well as aerospace club, I did not have a lot of experience designing a system based on someone else’s specifications. Working for HYPER has taught me a lot about this kind of design work and has improved my overall skill in regards to the craft. When I first began working on the tank project, I had trouble fully understanding what the controller needed to be capable of doing. However, with frequent team meetings and colleagues who were quick to respond to questions on Teams, it did not take long for my confusion to be resolved. As the project progressed, it was nice continuing the team meetings as it allowed me to get a grasp on what else has been going on with the project. After having a mostly completed schematic for the board, I was invited to join a meeting with the sponsoring company so they could see my design and give feedback. This was really helpful as it clarified some of the few remaining questions I had about design specs. Once the schematic had been finalized, I got to work on the design for the printed circuit board. With the large number of components and small form-factor, the design process for this PCB was by far the most challenging design I have had to date and has taken many attempts to perfect. This was awesome because now that it is nearly complete, I feel as though I have accomplished something great and have learned many valuable skills.
With the Summer coming to an end, I can now look back on my experience with the team and be confident that I made the right choice working here over the past few months. Between the amazing communication efficiency despite COVID, the friendly and helpful people I got to work with, and the skills I learned, the job I thought of as ‘pretty cool’ when I learned about it through my friend was not just pretty cool, it was freakishly awesome.
Two years ago, I attended a short presentation from John Schlaerth on cryocoolers from Raytheon. Following this, I gave him a short tour of the engineering department and chatted with him and another member of the Cougs in Space team. That night, I emailed him just eager to learn more about cryogenics. At the time I was working as a lifeguard at the Pullman Aquatic and Fitness Center and wanted to find my way into this new, cold realm. I never heard back from him though. Just over a year later, I finally got this chance when I approached Jake after completing the final day of Maxwell’s, his son, swim lesson. I still remember the word garbage I threw at Jake outside his van, only to get the coveted response, “Just send me an email with your resume.” An email later, and really before I could believe it, I was offered a job in the lab.
Initially, I was put on Mathew Hunt’s project CRAFT. Throughout that first summer, I aided in designing the thermal stack, fill tank, and aided manufacturers in the design of the thermal strap. This was the first highly complex system I had worked on yet, and I made some minor design mistakes along the way as I trekked through the steep learning curve. The most memorable mistake was in the first design meeting where I gave the fill tank doors, not knowing much about how sealing surfaces worked quite yet and was hit with an almost immediate “No” on the design. My way of thinking changed over that summer in the lab, and eventually, design meeting got easier, but not necessarily better. I also had my first lesson in workplace professionalism while doing manual material testing, being reminded that even though a job is easy, we still need to look professional while doing the job.
With plenty of learning experiences under my belt, I went into my second summer confident. Due to shutdowns and timeline issues, I continued my Senior Thesis Project work on Superconducting Level Gauges. I did not want to leave my relatively important project unfinished. I joined on the Liquefaction Team on H2Flo to implement the level gauges for more accurate control in the mobile refueling dewar on the heat rake. This summer brought new learning experiences. This summer I learned the importance of testing and double checking. I had not previously known about the 4 types of known and unknowns, and apparently, I had a handful of unknown unknowns. Luckily, I had a team that helped guide me through these and I’m leaving this summer with more knowledge on the process of projects.
I really don’t know where I will go from here, and if I’m being honest, I am a little afraid of that known unknown. I have plenty of known known’s though through the lessons and experience’s I had in the HYPER Lab, and at WSU. If I can keep to these that I learned, nothing will stop me,
Do it right the first time. Temporary fixes become permanent.
Don’t talk about asking for help, just ask.
Learn one, Do one, Teach one.
Team Bellow Fellows formed early in the summer as the cryogenic origami bellows project funded by JCATI took shape and Kjell Westra won a NASA fellowship to research in this area starting in Fall 2020.
The 3 months leading up to this summer were perhaps the lowest point in my life. All of my plans had fallen through and I was left trying to pick up the pieces. I started sending emails to professors at both University of Idaho and Washington State University just hoping someone would be interested in working with me. This is the context for how my summer at HYPER started, and at the beginning it felt like a dream. Working on not only interesting problems but also with a new group of very interesting people.
Not long into the start of my new job COVID19 had me at home trying my best to learn about HYPER, H2/LOx fuel, and origami. Suddenly the task of earning a spot in the community felt overwhelming. There were even a few moments that felt like true defeat. However, my 2020 summer in HYPER taught me not only that I was able to persevere through unknown challenges, but I had also found a group of people who were both inspiring and nurturing to one another. As my confidence grew in those around me it made it much easier to be successful as an individual.
The first obstacle to tackle was helping Kjell work on a paper that invites other cryogenics researchers to start looking into origami. “Compliant Polymer Mechanisms in Cryogenics” served as an excellent start to my HYPER experience because I got to jumpstart my understanding of the problems I would be working with during my research. While the paper is still in review, I believe it will accomplish our goals and could inspire some others to explore a new paradigm.
My first big individual endeavor as a Ph.D. student was trying to get a model for the compression behavior of the bellows. To be honest I thought it would be an easy process that might last about a month or so to accomplish… oops. While it was true that the experiments were easy to perform and the data was gathered quickly I vastly underestimated how hard it would be to model the bellows. I often get frustrated with myself for not progressing quickly enough, this experience has taught me that predicting research is very challenging. As a Ph.D. student I now realize how much my patience will be tested and it will take active work on myself to get better at going with the flow.
Finally I would like to share the most valuable lesson I learned this summer. Don’t be afraid to lean on those around you. It’s so easy to become self-important, stubborn, or shy. Every time I decided to put myself out there and say I was struggling in any way, I was met with smiles and support. So be brave and share, it helps others around you just as much as it helps you.
This Summer, I have been focused on helping with the CCC experiment and with the origami experiment. We have been relocating CCC in the ETRL. This has also included retrofitting it to work with a different cryocooler. For these changes, I have been overseeing the logistics of the disassembly process, the relocation, and the reassembly of CCC. Also, I have been working on retrofitting the radiation shield and doing some thermal analysis to improve it. Through this experience, I have gotten the opportunity to take the lead on some smaller portions of a big project. This has allowed me to learn about aspects of projects that I have usually been a bystander for. Working on the thermal calculations for retrofitting the radiation shield have allowed me to increase my knowledge of the thermal management systems for CCC.
The other project that I have been working on has been the origami project. With this, I have been folding origami bellows out of various materials to be tested. I have also been designing living hinges that will be manufactured and tested. This has allowed me to dive deeper into the actual mechanics of living hinges and how they need to be created in order to be functional. It has been a good experience that has allowed me to learn a lot.
H2Flo and the Outdoor Research Facility
This long-standing HYPER lab challenge developed the first Outdoor Research Facility specializes in liquid hydrogen in US Academia. After completing construction in early January, substantial work was required to get the site and Mobile Hydrogen Generation Unit (MHGU) fully operational. This team was led by Dr. Ian Richardson funded as a Postdoctoral researcher through the Washington Research Foundation.
When the summer began, I had just celebrated my first year of working at the lab. During that time, I had planned, designed, and built hydrogen manifolds and vent systems in the MHGU Gen. 1 and the gas storage building at the outdoor research facility, making changes as needed and as the system developed. When COVID-19 hit, I was saddened that after the year I had spent developing these systems, their use would only be delayed further. I was so excited to see something I had built be tested and used for, of all things, filling a liquid hydrogen fuel tank.
This summer turned out to be an incredible experience despite the restrictions and setbacks that were faced. Lead-times were extended, in-person work restricted, test dates pushed back, and yet I was still able to witness something I had been waiting for: my hard work being put to use. Multiple tank fills were conducted over the course of the summer, providing critical data to the development of the tank, MHGU and gas storage building. I researched pneumatic E-stop systems, then designed and wrote an extensive report on the system, conducting a HAZOP and getting the system approved for implementation to the existing hydrogen system in the gas storage building that I’d developed over the past year. This E-stop system is on-schedule to be ready for use when the gas storage building is once again leak-checked and commissioned in mid-August. Changes for the Outdoor Research Facility and the MHGU Gen. 1 are also about to be wrapped up.
Not only did I build upon previous work of my own, but I got the opportunity to begin designing the next generation of the MHGU. My solo work became teamwork, and the “CAD Crew” was born with Andy Mei and Hannah Gardner. I learned how to take such a daunting task of designing the next-generation MHGU from scratch and allocate the workload among team members to complete work on schedule, working together on larger tasks. I trained my fellow students with knowledge that I myself had acquired just a year ago when I started working at the lab on MHGU Gen. 1. I learned discipline and time management necessary to work from home and still accomplish my goals despite in-person restrictions and other roadblocks along the way. I learned about subjects from purge systems and procedures to rivet removal, building a toolbox of knowledge to apply in my professional career.
The next steps in my journey at the HYPER lab are to fully develop the MHGU Gen. 2 into a final product. It may not be built during my time at the lab, but I can feel proud about my contribution to the design process of a novel product. Our CAD subgroup has already had our conceptual design review with ~33% completion of the design, where helpful insights and feedback were obtained to help us continue in the right direction. In the immediate future are the preliminary design review, HAZOPs, and the completion of the gen. 2 design, and I’m excited to see what engineering solutions we come up with.
My main takeaways from my work over the summer: 1) It’s important to acknowledge that you will make many mistakes over the course of your work, but when you work well with others, there’s a very good likelihood these mistakes will be caught. Working by yourself can often be counterproductive. 2) Document everything. No matter how good you think your memory is, chances are you will forget the little things, and won’t be able to answer someone when they ask “why did you do this how you did?” 3) Empathize with everyone and assume the best of people. People forget to reply to emails, manufacturers have extended lead-times, and people show up late. Their reasoning may not be as simple as you think, especially during a pandemic. 4) It’s very likely your engineering challenge has been solved before. Conduct the research and you may find a better solution.
Where do I even start… I remember first hearing about HYPER Lab from Sean, Leif, Marcelo, and from a few other close peers that I had either taken classes with or was their TA. I remember walking past Dr. Leachman’s office in March and anxiously peeking in to see if he were there to speak to him if he was available to talk about any potential openings in the lab. I had just secured an internship for the summer and had found myself reading posts about remote work in the lab. I thought to myself maybe I could do this during my internship at the same time. So, I decided to email Jake to see if there were any possible openings in the lab for either at that moment or for the following semester, at the time I had finally built enough grit to say to convince myself that it couldn’t hurt to ask, rejection is just a natural process of growth.
Fast forward a few weeks, I could not catch Jake at his office, so I decided to send an email about my interest in joining the lab. Unfortunately, at that time there were not any available positions. I figured I would try again the following semester. Then fast forward a few months and I knew there would be a few openings in the lab as some of my peers would be graduating that spring. So, I asked Leif if he could provide me with a recommendation for the lab, in which he did. And, so begins my story. Jake reached out to me to set up an interview in which I eagerly accepted and in which we had a good conversation with one another in. I remember my first week of being a part of HYPER, I would just eagerly read all the previous documentation floating around on TEAMS just to try and familiarize myself with the project to prepare myself for a summer of remote work or at least that is what I thought initially.
I remember vividly being in the summer kickoff meeting and Jake giving us a talk on taking care of yourself mentally due to COVID-19. I sat there thinking, man I got lucky I get to work at the lab and do my internship, I was truly thankful. Then about an hour after that I got an email form the company who had provided my internship, I was in full disappointment mode as they had decided to cancel all the internships for the summer. The timing was impeccable especially right after hearing everything that Jake had said. I was probably pretty bummed out about it for a couple of weeks.
Being a part of H2Flo and working with the CAD team and everyone else definitely helped me get my mind off of it I didn’t have time to be bummed out, I was having too much fun absorbing everything from the lab in. With it also being the first time that I spent the summer in Pullman, I did not mind. As, I got to work on GEN1 and learn a lot about the piping side and all the components that went through and were connected along with it. There was certainly a learning curve in the beginning with being completely new to the project with P&ID, all the components/systems, codes, and HAZOPs, but as time passed by everything became natural. From weekly sprints, backlogs, daily stand ups, and communicating with other teams to ensure that we were all on the same page without hindering each other’s work or progress. Being on the CAD team essentially allowed Sean, Hannah, and I to oversee and learn a vast majority of the project on GEN2 as we had to carefully plan the placement and consider new obstacles weekly. That is my favorite memory of being a part of HYPER so far, since the beginning we would start every week with unknowns and by the end of it we will have made some progress towards a solution. I was able to see these unknowns unfold and bring us closer to a product that would work when we had our Concept Design Review with Jake, Ian, Chuck, and Eli. It most definitely brought forth issues that would need to be addressed but, it was PROGRESS nonetheless. With that almost 3 months had passed by swiftly in the blink of an eye.
COVID as definitely a huge challenge to everyone. But I am truly thankful for HYPER as it helped me get out of my comfort zone, allowed me to explore my interests, be a part of a team and grow. With the PDR right around the corner I am excited and hopeful to see GEN2 to its finish with the FDR in the upcoming fall with everyone in HYPER. It has been a crazy summer, it was not the summer I had originally planned, but I am glad to have spent it with everyone in HYPER! Thank you to Jake for the opportunity, and to everyone who welcomed me to the lab and answered any questions I had with no hesitation! See you all in the Fall semester!
I began the summer in the exact same place as I had been during the school year: working as the team leader of the Core Team. We had the unique and challenging task of renovating the lab website, where I learned all about the past and present of the lab and how to effectively present information. With the help of Zoom, our team clicked into place and functioned with what I believe was near perfect efficiency and communication. I have done my best to bring this feeling of teamwork and camaraderie with me when moved to H2Flo.
In June, my job changed drastically and spectacularly as I transitioned to the H2Flo CAD and Plumbing Team (and also loosely Liquefaction Team and The Heat Exchanger (THE) Team), where I began helping with CAD work, designing the layout of MHGU Gen.2, and modifying Gen. 1 and the Outdoor Research Facility to fit our needs. Each member of the CAD Team- Sean Dimmer, Andy Mei, and myself- complimented each other’s skills perfectly, and I could feel our little team function with almost the same efficiency, if not more, as my experience on the Core Team. I have loved every second of being on this team and being a member of H2Flo.
My main goal this summer was to learn as much as I possibly could from my teammates, and be an effective member of H2Flo by the end of summer, in spite of having to do almost all work online and mostly away from the lab and being the youngest (and therefore least experienced and knowledgeable) member of H2Flo by about a year. As my dad taught me and as I outlined in the Compendium, to increase knowledge or a skill set, a person must follow the principle of “Learn One, Do One, Teach One.” With this process, I worked hard to begin to apply my course work, to soak up all the information I could about designing a system, and to increase my technical skills. I asked as many questions as I could, I volunteered for tasks that would give me new experiences, and I began leading a few subprojects and designs for Gen. 2. My knowledge vastly expanded and my participation in meetings evolved from quietly listening to becoming a contributing member of the discussion with ideas of my own.
One of my most notable learning points came during the MHGU Gen.2 Concept Design Review. A few days prior, I had searched the equipment manuals to find the operating limits, such as maximum ambient temperatures, maximum elevation, etc. After I presented these at the review, our team was told that these facts should not restrict us, that we needed to define our own limits. I was shocked; my first reaction was that these limits were not something we could control, since we did not design these pieces of large equipment.
After much thought, I realized that these numbers are in fact irrelevant. My team and I had chosen to look at these limits as insurmountable obstacles, simply because they had been set by the companies we had purchased the equipment from. I had a revelation: Engineering is not defining what has been deemed impossible in the past, it is defining what we desire to be possible and know to be necessary for the future.
I will keep this lesson close for the remainder of my time at HYPER. MHGU Gen. 2 is going to be groundbreaking, and to help make that happen, I intend to find groundbreaking ways to knock down all the barriers that may come in our path in the coming months with my teammates.
While sitting in one of my mechanical engineering classes last fall, my teacher mentioned that Jacob Leachman was looking for some people to help out in the lab. I did not quite know what his lab did, but I thought that the experience would be great. I did some more research into his lab and did not hesitate to send him an email. After the hiring process I was assigned to the H2Flo Liquefier team with Jordan Raymond and Chelsea Crabb.
At the end of January, we were told that we would be redesigning the heat rake for the Gen 1 MHGU. As a new hire, I was completely lost. After the first team meeting, I went home and did a lot of research. I searched what a “heat rake” was, and I read many articles on cryogenics and the entire process for liquefying hydrogen. I still was a bit lost. It was not until I got a look at the outdoor site that I actually developed some design ideas for the heat rake. All throughout the spring semester, Chelsea and I developed many design iterations of both the heat rake and the Heat Exchanger lifting mechanism, which were all reviewed by Jordan and Ian. Now came the fun part, actually building what we had created in SolidWorks.
For a little background in myself, I come from a family farm and have always been more hands on when it comes to building anything. My dad is also the hands-on type and is always doing everything himself. We installed our entire sprinkler system in our backyard, and our house was built on a rock. So, when all the materials came in for the heat rake, I started to get excited. Before the end of the spring semester I assembled most of the heat rake before the superconducting wires were going to be included. This was before the novel coronavirus hit. That is when everything changed. Up until the virus, I was doing everything in TFRB. If I had a question about cryogenics, I would ask someone that was there. The best part was all the short conversations you would have with everyone about what they were doing in the lab. When I was young, my parents would tell us that if “we wanted to become smarter, we should surround ourselves with people smarter than ourselves.” That is exactly what I did. I cannot tell you how many times Carl Bunge has had to explain to me what exactly his project does for me to finally understand. And I still could not explain it to someone else, I just have enough surface knowledge to understand. After the virus shut everything down, most of us lost those small conversations. That is what I miss the most.
I knew that I had one goal for the summer. Install the new heat rake design. What I did not know at the time was how much soldering and wires that would involve. After the heat rake (without the sensors) was assembled, I had to test the sensors first before I could attach them. I am so thankful that I reached out to Carl for help. He was awesome when it came to helping me out. He did not hesitate to help, and he taught me as much as he could so that I could do everything on my own. He taught me how to attach the sensor plug, to control the temperature controller, how to pour LN2 into a dewar, and how to prepare epoxy. I did all of these things numerous times after he taught me. All of my work at the lab increased a lot more when we were told to add superconducting wires to the assembly. Eventually we figured out how we would attach everything and got to work assembling it all onto the heat rake. Along the way, Sam Waldschmitt and Justin Brundage were added to the team. Like I said previously, I missed the small conversations. Sam and Justin were great team members to figure everything out with because they both had great ideas and came from different projects. We also got to have a lot of those small conversations that I missed so much.
By the middle of July, the heat rake was ready for installation with a complete installation guide to follow. Before the heat rake could be installed, the lifting mechanism had to finished. We were able to finish installing the lifting mechanism then lift up the cold head. It is very satisfying to see that one of your designs work well. After everything was out of the tank, we had to install the heat rake. After 4 long and hot days, and at least 150 solder joints, and managing 50, 36-gauge wires, the installation was complete. Jordan and I were very nervous when we first plugged in the sensors to the temperature controller, but, to our amazement, everything worked first try! We were incredibly thankful that we did not have to completely re-solder every wire that we had attached.
As I write this reflection, it is the first week in August. We finished the installation about one week ago and have yet to test everything in a hydrogen environment. I am fairly confident that everything will work, and I am incredibly happy with all of the work I have done to get here. One of the best decisions I have made was to send Jacob that email about joining the lab. I have met some of the smartest and nicest people here and have learned so much. I am deeply saddened that my time here is coming to an end, but I graduated in the spring of 2020 and my apartment lease is ending. Cheers to the lifelong friends and connections, it was a great summer of 2020, besides the pandemic…
It’s the morning of the first official Summer H2Flo meeting. Ian asks everyone to introduce themselves and I (of course) take the opportunity to demonstrate my capacity for charisma. Most people introduce themselves with a standard, monotone voice, explaining their team role, major, etc. Not me.
When my turn comes, I modify my voice to sound like the Comcast automated receptionist: “Hello! My name is Jordan Kurtz! I work on the electrical and controls team for H2Flo with Leif Harfst! I am studying mechanical engineering…!” (you get the point).
Getting a laugh (*“But Jordan, that wasn’t even funny!” But reader, maybe you should go get your brain checked, because I am hilarious) was a perfect way to introduce myself to the team, and to set a tone conveying lightness and humor, as a part of the serious work we do. Plus, with the beerbug (*Beer = Corona, Bug = Virus) wreaking havoc, humor helps connect us.
Summer was off to a good start. By that time, we were nearing the end of the Generation 1 MHGU container. A few intense weeks later, the controls system I’d spent a year on was finally put to the test. And it passed: the station ran autonomously. My system was working.
I’ll repeat that again. It. Was. Working.
Every sensor, wire, PLC, power supply, relay, cable, computer, and line of code was performing as I had intended. I felt like I could conquer the world.
But an engineer’s work is never really done. With the station liquefying, the next step was fuel transfers with the Tank team. I worked with them to successfully add their sensors into my existing system.
And while Generation 1 was wrapping up, a new challenge emerged: MHGU Generation 2. New PLCs, new software, new schematics, and the chance to work with a real electrical company. Just like last Summer, I again felt in over my head. But as I’m fond of saying, “Your comfort zone is your dead zone”.
That brings me to the present, having recently completed the first (concept) design review with the external company. Based on their responses in our meeting, we are absolutely on the right path, and still have much further to go.
My moments of triumph this Summer were, in fact, our moments of triumph: those moments only happened because everyone on the team pulled their weight. Our positive team dynamics, demonstrated in that first meeting, paid off.
The end of the Summer at HYPER is much like the end of a good TV season. We created memories, built relationships, and met new challenges, leaving us excited for season five (Season 1 was Summer 2019, season 2 was Fall 2019, season 3 was Spring 2020, and season 4 is Summer 2020).
So, season five, here we come.
Working in a fever during a global pandemic has never been very high on my bucket list, yet the infamous summer of 2020 has allowed me to do just that. Thankfully, the fever that I am talking about is only a figure of speech, and the only heat I have experienced so far has been transferred from the sun free of charge. What has helped me keep my cool this summer is the thought of getting to design a control system to create the coolest fuel around. This cool fuel I am talking about is liquid hydrogen, and the control system is the entire electrical process and monitoring system that is needed to transform ordinary water into cryogenic liquid hydrogen. You may ask “what was so cool about that?” as liquefaction of hydrogen isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. However, over this summer my team and I have been designing the control system for a liquefier that is small enough to fit inside of your garage and can be placed virtually anywhere in the world via airplane or helicopter. Now the “fever” that I was talking about becomes more relevant when taken in the context of what it takes to shrink a full-scale hydrogen liquefaction plant down to the size of a storage container. The goal of our control system is to provide ease of use, simplicity, and safety all in one complete package. Once the system is implemented, the operator of the Mobile Hydrogen Generation Unit will be able to liquefy hydrogen with the touch of a button.
Despite all the adversity that the year 2020 has hurled at us so far, this has been one of the most productive summers I have ever had. I have had the great privilege of working with a wonderful team, acquiring new skills, and most of all knowing that our work will make a difference in a world that is desperately in need of big changes. Although there are still mountains of work to do, we are now well on our way to completing the most compact hydrogen liquefier that Washington State has ever seen.
Go HYPER Lab, Go Cool Fuel, Go Cougs!!
The beginning of the summer was tough. Like many others, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and the thought of doing nothing was nerve-racking. I have always been the kind of person who thrives on busy schedules and needs to be actively learning to stay motivated. For a while I had been wanting to return to working at the HYPER lab, and considering all the changes in plans and ambiguity, I thought that this summer would be as good as ever!
I reached out to Jake, asking if he needed additional help and was redirected to Ian where I found myself working on the Outdoor Research Facility Team. In June, I jumped right in and was given the task of finding additional storage for the outdoor facility. It seemed like a straightforward task, until I had to write numerous proposals and find what would make everyone happy. Finally I was able to finalize a shed and all of the necessary shelving for everything that’s out there (and there is A LOT out there) and am still working on getting more pieces to make the outdoor research facility functional for storage and use. Alongside this I spent many hours going down rabbit holes looking for information on purge procedures.
My goal this summer was simple: Listen and learn. Too many times I have jumped into things too fast and took on more than I could. This time, I wanted to focus on listening and learning from those around me and doing my part to help who I could. I learned a lot about being patient and taking the time to think through decisions before making them. Everything I was exposed to this summer was new and allowed me to expand what I know and how to work with others. I am glad I spent my summer in an environment that promotes learning and engagement and am looking forward to this school year!
Coming back to Pullman after being home for winter break back in Mexico. Motivated and hyped for a fresh start to a new year, new goals, new experiences, new semester, and a new position at the HYPER Lab at WSU. Working as a new member in the H2Flo group focusing on the thermal systems for GEN1. Excited to leave my comfort zone by applying my mechanical engineering knowledge and my humanitarian skills as a team member on a project. Not only did I work at the HYPER Lab, but also involved in residence life as a resident advisor where I spent most of my time if not at classes or working at the lab. Spring semester took off successfully, until the COVID pandemic started to affect the daily routine. Not letting the changes affect myself but being optimistic and positive about everything and finding a way on how to work with it instead of against it. Changing to virtual learning and social distancing everything changed from what used to be normal, and absolutely something that will take time to get used to. Realizing that summer was close enough and I needed a plan and going back home to Mexico was not a viable option. I saw the opportunity offered to work during the summer at the HYPER Lab, following up with the perfect combination to apply to be a summer resident advisor so I could secure a place to stay during the summer, and at the same time keep working on research. Knowing that I needed to focus on working on the thermal systems for GEN1 and knowing GEN2 was on its way, which requires a lot of work, the summer in Pullman seemed like the right decision.
Spring semester finished and transitioned into the summer to new working schedules, new goals, and new obstacles like working fully remotely. Focusing on the HVAC for Gen2 with Luis as a new member to the Thermal Systems team. I already knew Luis from classes, but never actually worked with him and was excited to see the accomplishments we were going to complete during the summer and in the future fall semester. Started with the motivation as high as it can be and organizing ourselves with a backlog to plan our work for the summer. Having a smaller sized container will bring new challenges in how to implement everything from GEN1 to GEN2. Working intensely with SOLIDWORKS and becoming even more knowledgeable with making fluid and thermal simulations. Having to do some testing in the actual container to find a better understanding of its behavior and the scenarios the container may face, and how we can control them. Halfway through the summer and a new assignment was brought up to be applied and worked on. Like usual every day is a new day and brings different challenges and obstacles to tackle. Still working hard with the team and some professors to figure out how to solve this and answer questions we have.
I can say that this summer 2020 has been successful so far that not only have I learned more in depth in what I’m working on at the HYPER Lab but also I’ve learned new software skills, learned how to cook for myself, enjoy time out of the work space. Looking forward to finishing this summer and continuing the fall semester on this project. Excited to see the new obstacles that the project has to offer, and new teachings.
This summer has been ever evolving and changing. I went into this summer expecting things to reopen in the first couple of weeks, and I’d finally get to travel, celebrate my 21st birthday, do something new every week, be religious in my GRE studying, and most importantly I didn’t want to stop learning. Although I failed to accomplish most of my original summer goals, I can truly say I haven’t stopped learning.
My goals for HYPER were to install all remaining Hydrogen sensors and alarms and create a monitoring system for the bottle garden. It doesn’t sound like much at first but once I learned how much really goes into creating and programming my system, I was overwhelmed. I thought “How am I going to do this! I have never done anything like this before. I have no idea what I am doing! I’m so getting fired.” I’m so grateful to have been given a project that was completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve learned so much. Some of the knowledge I’ve gained was because of mistakes I made along the way but I’m better because of it. I gained some valuable lessons in project planning and I’ve gained a better glimpse of what a real engineering job will be like.
I’ve never faced a pandemic before, and it created some challenging hurdles for me. I missed being able to walk right into TFRB and see 10 people at any given time that I can ask questions to and bounce ideas from. When I got stuck on something, I felt a little helpless at times. I’ve had to adapt the way I work and communicate to try and effectively get my tasks done. Overcoming this hurdle and adapting has allowed me to get closer to everyone in H2Flo and they have taught me some pretty cool things. I learned how to put threads on conduit and create bends (I’m not very good at it). I learned a lot about PLCs and because of that my main summer project is finally coming together. Though, the most important skill I’ve learned from my coworkers is how to play poker.
Having to do all communication online has tested my patience and has pushed me to my limits at times. I didn’t know I could feel such anger towards an inanimate object. My laptop was about 5 years old and it ran like a slug. I’d have to hard shutdown my laptop multiple times for it to bring me to the login screen and then wait about 10 minutes for it to actually let me login and open all the programs I needed. I couldn’t open word from teams, I had to open Word first and then click “open in desktop app” and that was about a 7-minute ordeal. My morning 9 am meetings really started at 8:40, any later and my computer wouldn’t be ready in time. I had to learn three new programs this summer and boy let me tell you. Solidworks Electrical is the most frustrating thing ever when your laptop stops responding every 30 seconds. I owe a big thank you to my sub-team for being so patient. They taught me productivity software and Solidworks electrical through zoom while simultaneously being forced to deal with my laptop shenanigans alongside me.
Through working at HYPER this summer I’ve made a bunch of new friends. We’ve gone on a spontaneous hike to see shooting stars and a comet, we’ve gone skydiving together, celebrated each other’s birthdays, and have spent many nights laughing together. My summer would not have been complete if I didn’t have these friendships and I’m truly grateful to have a place in the HYPER community.
At the beginning of the summer, I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. I had applied to internship upon internship, hoping to gain any professional engineering experience that I could get. I was beginning to question if I had what it takes to become a true engineer, but I knew I could not give up. After Covid-19 started to affect everyday life, I lost my chances at two potential internships because many places started to close or stopped hiring. I learned about HYPER during my previous semester, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the incredible work that goes on there. I knew that even if it were a longshot, I was determined to find somewhere that would accept me and help me learn what it truly means to be an engineer.
I first applied back to HYPER in February when I learned about the lab from talking to Chelsea Crabb about it in a class we shared together. It immediately sparked my interest and I decided to look deeper into it. I sent an email to Jake asking if there were any open positions, but unfortunately, he was only hiring freshman and sophomores at that time. A few months later, I knew that there were graduating seniors that were leaving the lab, so I decided to apply again. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Ian and Jordan Raymond, and although I was extremely nervous about the interview, I still felt welcomed by both of them and I knew HYPER was where I wanted to be. This is where my story begins.
Working for HYPER has been a life-changing experience in the short three months I have been working here. Being a part of H2Flo and having the opportunity to be a lead on the outdoor facility team has been one of the steepest learning curves I have ever faced. This is my first professional job, and although the pandemic has been a roadblock for communication and learning, I have been able to gain more professional knowledge in three months at HYPER than I ever could have in my education here at WSU, and I’m eager to keep on learning.
My original goals for this summer were to work on pressure calculations within vent stacks of the MGHU and getting the cylinder carts cut by Miles, allowing for an easier process of putting bottles in or taking them out, as well increasing the mobility of the carts. A couple of weeks into this summer, I was assigned to be a lead on the outdoor facility team. My current goals are to find a material and method of insulating the channels of the b-deck roofing in the bottle garden, have a construction company grind a section of cement to be flat in the bottle garden and add a drain to avoid outdoor facility pathways from freezing over in the winter, create a preliminary report for the liquid nitrogen burst testing station, and mount a monitor and enclosure at the outdoor facility. These assignments have taken me out of my comfort zone, but as I have continued to work here, the process of things is becoming more natural. I have had to use out-of-the-box thinking in order to solve problems, which is still very new to me and I have had a lot of fun during the entire learning process. An example of this is the LN2 preliminary report I am currently creating for the liquid nitrogen burst testing station at the outdoor facility. I have absolutely no prior experience with liquid nitrogen, let alone creating a design report for burst testing with it. Elijah has been a tremendous help in aiding me to understand the process of creating a report like this, and although I will make mistakes along the way, I am determined to do the best job that I am capable of.
I have also gained communication skills through the many rabbit holes I have fallen into when calling company after company about products, especially products I am unfamiliar with such as insulation materials. I have been able to overcome my shyness by getting to know some of my coworkers, and I was sincerely blessed to have been able to enter a work environment where everyone is supportive when I ask questions, regardless of how dumb the questions may sound. I have also been able to create friendships within H2Flo and because of that, I have had the chance to gain confidence and get to know the awesome people that I work with by spending time with them on hikes, at barbeques, playing poker, and much more over the summer.
Working on something that has never been done before is challenging, and I am overwhelmingly grateful that HYPER has given me the opportunity to work outside of my comfort zone and be a part of a team that helps me to grow as a person and as a professional engineer. It is a blessing to be a part of the HYPER community, and I look forward to the amazing stories and experiences to come during the school year.
My first semester working at the HYPER lab ended with the introduction of the coronavirus pandemic. A rather unusual twist to any semester at a university, but one we all experienced together. The beginning of summer was full of questions such as how the semester would play out, what precautions need to be taken, how long will this last, and much more. I was also curious as to how the project timelines would be impacted and how I could contribute from California, the place I had been staying since spring break. It was a large transition at the time, but as humans we learn how to adapt.
My spring semester project included understanding PPE and safety requirements in order to gather tools necessary for the outdoor facility. This was shortly followed up by determining a hydrogen detection system. Although it was challenging, it was not as challenging as the design problems I would face during the summer. After getting used to the dynamic of the lab and understanding more of each team’s role I was put on the HVAC team for the GEN2. My team’s goal was to design a system that provided the proper cooling for the components within the container. The constraints were determined by the operating temperatures of the components within the container such as the cryocooler and electrolyzer. The goal was to try to use ambient outdoor air to cool the internal components with inlet vents and outlet fans. In the GEN1 container, an air conditioning unit was implemented by a supporting company for reasons we did not understand, and we wanted to know if it were necessary for the container’s operation. It would significantly reduce the weight and modularity of the GEN2, considering that it is heavy and sticks out of the side of the container. After weeks of CAD simulations, meetings, and testing, we were able to determine air conditioning would not be necessary.
This project was very educational and taught me immensely about the processes of design in a more professional environment where cost and time constraints are incredibly important, while also maintaining constant communication and updating documentation. This project was the first project where my contribution felt paramount to the team’s success, not because of the projects content, but rather how interconnected this project was with the progress of the other subgroups. It was a great sensation knowing that you are a part of a larger effort to design and create something. It is an even better feeling to know that you are experiencing this with your peers who you have known for several years. The transition from studies to application makes the journey even more enjoyable.
I am at the beginning of a new journey to understand how the GEN2 container can be ruggedized to withstand vibrations caused by transportation. It has been a great experience so far trying to tackle a problem that few people have faced before. As the summer comes to its end I could not be more grateful for this experience and the time spent trying to design and create an object the first of its kind. I am incredibly excited for what the fall has to offer and continue working with this amazing community.
The Cryocatalysis Hydrogen Experiment Facility (CHEF) is the more complex and highly utilized experiment in the HYPER laboratory. This project is led by Carl Bunge, who is finishing his PhD this fall.
Entering the summer of 2020, I experienced as much as one could in the lab with a full year under my belt working on the rebuild of CHEF. While I gained a lot of experience, I had yet to do extensive planning and teaching. With these experiences I was able to contribute to 4 different projects this summer.
To say that I appreciate all the advice and teaching that I receive from members of the lab is an understatement. Everything I have learned has not only made my experience in the HYPER lab valuable, but very enjoyable. As CRAFT was going through similar challenges that CHEF faced during its rebuild, I was able to provide tips and tricks to make the process more streamline. Conveying what I have already learned challenged me to understand what I already knew better.
The rebuild of CHEF, left me with an understanding of how to do that and what made doing that easy. After doing a task you generally have an epiphany of “Dang that would have of been easier if I did this”, and so you learn from it and build off it. A lot of Carl’s design choices revolved around learning from the previous generation of CHEF. This thoroughly thought out plan is what I believe lead to CHEF sealing on the first attempt, a feat that took more than a year to accomplish on the previous generation of CHEF. The process of planning was applied towards the retrofitting of CCC, the development of a super conducting fuel level gauge, and the continued development of CHEF.
My involvement with CCC is like the CHEF rebuild as I aimed to design a new desk, new plumbing manifold, and relocate and reconstruct CCC. On top of that, I worked with Kjell to develop a sealing method for the thicker 3D printed samples used for Protium’s tank. Planning was vital for this project. Many times I found myself waiting for parts to be fabricated in the machine shop. As I waited, I would use that time to talk out with Stasia our next steps so that we could continue to make progress once possible.
Most of what I have done in the lab involved vacuum chambers, cryocoolers, and lots of plumbing. To develop a super conducting wire that would be placed directly in liquid hydrogen was unique and forced me to learn new techniques and expand my knowledge in the cryogenic field. Another unique aspect to this project was that the super conducting wire was a device which would be supported on a heat rake, inside a dewar, and would make up one of many devices controlled by the control system. All systems were different, and lead by another lab member. Working as part of a team was a big part of this project.
Finally, CHEF. CHEF is perfectly summed up as a love hate relationship. Sometimes CHEF works, sometimes CHEF doesn’t. There is always something going on, and I feel like if I were to write down everything that was done for CHEF, I would have enough material for a book. Persistence is key while working on CHEF, especially when is comes to sealing the vortex tube, a process which can take multiple tries. Or even the synthesizing of the ruthenium catalyst, a process which took hours. Even with all this invested time, there is still a lot to do and to stay persistent is crucial.
More now then ever, as I sit here and write this Summer Story, the continuous reference to core lab mantra “Learn one, Do one, Teach one” has become very apparent.