Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Lab ME 316

ME 406 Lesson 2: Literature Reviews

There’s an old saying — “A week’s worth of time spent in the library can save a year’s worth of time in the laboratory.”

Of course today the time is usually spent on-line with Google instead of the library. Enter the quantity vs. quality debate. Do you want 5 highly relevant sources to your project with the chance that you miss an important one? Or 5 million potentially relevant sources to your project that you have to sift through to find the golden nuggets? The answer is probably the first.

So ask yourself, do you feel proficient at navigating the aggregated on-line knowledge of human existence? If the first thing that pops into your head is a cat video on youtube, you need to talk to a librarian. If you haven’t completed an extensive literature review in the past, you’re a rookie. Call in a pro to give you pointers before you waste everyone’s time. Talk to your librarian. Did you know that WSU has a dedicated Engineering Librarian, Chelsea Leachman? She was trained as an engineer and is married to one. She knows how you think. Talk to your librarian.

Contrary to popular belief, librarians are not out of style, only the antiquated stereotypes of them are. The amount of scientific information the world is generating is increasing at an exponential pace. Even with the new abilities to search this information for yourself, the learning curves are steep, and the expectations to have rigorously evaluated background literature are stringent. Suffice it to say, there has never been a more important time in history to have very, very good librarians on your side.

Let me be absolutely clear that the #1 problem I’ve noticed from our engineering students in the last five years is an inability to find the most relevant and credible information for their projects. Not math skills, not hands-on skills, not team skills, not communication, but simply doing a thorough review of what’s out there. The way Chelsea described it to me, “the students don’t understand their projects. So they don’t enter good keywords for searches. So they return irrelevant sources that they don’t read. So they never get to know their projects.” Ignorance is a vicious cycle — one that takes time, practice, and dedication to overcome.

You should consider double checking to make sure you have identified the following:

  1. Relevant testing standards nearly all of the experiments have a testing/operating standard that covers the general classification of machinery. These will often tell you how many data points to take, how many times you need to re-run a point, and what types of tests should be done.
  2. Relevant peer-reviewed journal publications. Although the standards may say what to do and how for the experiment, they may not give you the most recent and credible theoretical approaches for analyzing and correlating the data. You should quickly look through recent journal publications to see if recent research provides new theory for your experiment.
  3. Doctoral and Master’s theses. These are often golden finds as theses tend to describe everything in-detail from a novice viewpoint that’s empathetic to yours! You may even get a detailed operating procedure!
  4. Company product websites and manuals. Just like this site, they can be created by anyone, anywhere, and are not necessarily peer reviewed for credibility, but if highly relevant, are worth spending time on. Do you really know how that instrument works?

The primary focus of this class though are testing standards. Chelsea has grabbed many of the relevant standards for your projects and has a worksheet that breaks down and shows you how to use these testing standards. Note that there are even testing standards for data analysis and uncertainties.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Now that Chelsea has shown you where to find and how to use the standards relevant to your project, you need to document them now, before you forget.

Literature reviews can be boring, especially to someone who is very familiar with the body of knowledge (a boss for example). So you need to stay efficient, credible, and work to try to teach us something interesting/relevant. While there isn’t a right or wrong way to structure this section of your report, good literature reviews tend to have the following elements:

  1. A quick narrative describing how the literature review is structured to maximize relevance to the need described in the introduction.
  2. An efficient history of the type/paradigm of the machine/widget/specimen you are testing. This historical view approach is often convenient as it naturally shows what has been done, in some kind of timeline, culminating in why the test is needed.
  3. The applicability of standards, what aspects of the experiment covered, and why or why not you are conforming to particular standards.
  4. Particularly relevant journal publications and industry manuals or websites that cover parts of your experiment.
  5. A summary that shows what is covered, and why you need to do theory and experiments to solve the original customer/client need from the intro.

Now for the specifics of actually using your sources and citing them appropriately. Here’s an example:

“Aerospace is an important industry.”

“Unmanned Aerial Systems are a rapidly growing sector of Aerospace (Teal Group 2012).”

“Unmanned Aerial Systems are predicted to be a $14 billion dollar industry by 2020 and Washington State will be the 2nd largest contributor (Teal Group 2012).”

Which sentence above reads as the most relevant and credible to you? I’m guessing the last. Notice how good sources give you specific numbers that can be traced back to the source. I’ve used them in my sentences to SHOW how big/important something is, rather than just to TELL the reader. Which sentence can be said by anyone? Which sentence makes you valuable as an employee?

How you list your sources is another consideration. You should always use the format that’s relevant to your company or journal that you will eventually submit the report to. If you are given the option, cite the article with the names of the authors/group producing the publication and year as I have above (Leachman 2016). This provides the readers a way to assess the credibility of the information immediately when they read it. Another way is to use a footnote and place the citation at the bottom of the page. Placing the sources at the very end of the report or presentation requires the reader to flip back and forth. It’s a pain! Have you ever been in a presentation where someone put the sources at the end, but flipped through the slide so quickly that nobody could read anything that was on it? If it’s worth citing, put the source where and when your readers need it.


ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 32: Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

The old saying: practice makes perfect. One of those things that must be continually practiced, revised, and improved is Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA, also FMA). Both of the projects we are currently pursuing involve some amount of unforeseen risk. Examples: 1) part of the rock crusher gets used as a club, 2) a sharp piece of metal strut in the fueling station cuts someones hand. It’s in everyone’s best interest to be diligent about these issues, not only for ourselves, but for everyone else that will utilize our designs.

Back when I was the instructor for ME 406 Experimental Design, I developed a worksheet/ table/matrix to guide people through FMEA in a way that prompts people to think about some of these unforeseen risks in different ways.

ME 406 Safety Checklist and FMA 2013

Make sure to have one of the people on your build team complete this for your operation before you begin. We’ll definitely have to execute this analysis for the rock crusher project design. In short, this is another type of matrix design method similar to the house of quality, and could also be incorporated into level 5 of Quality Function Deployment during the process portion.

Intro to the Uganda Rock Crushing Project

As we enter the final month of ME 316 Systems Design, we are shifting gears and attempting sacrilege by dividing the class. We’re in the final build stages of the H2-Flo hydrogen liquefaction project and a team has self selected to finish the build commitments off by the end of the semester.

The remaining 20 students in class are taking on a quick humanitarian design exercise: The Uganda Rock Crusher Project.

In a previous project, WSU Faculty Member Dave Torick worked with a PeaceCorps volunteer to develop a rock crusher for a Ugandan village. Recently, Maranie from The Project to End Human Trafficking found Dave’s prior work and is interested in reigniting the project to design a Rock Crusher to aid women in Uganda. We’re now working with the guidance of WSU Professor Chuck Pezeshki, who has significant experience in humanitarian design challenges, to take a new angle on the problem.

We’re working with someone in Uganda, we’ll call her Becky. She developed the following statement of need:

The need for rock crushing machines for the women not only in Mukono district, but also in other areas of Uganda is not in question. Women spend longer hours or days in the dust and under the scorching sun crushing stones of any desired sizes with small hammers. The breaking of stones or rocks from the parent rook also takes a lot of energy whereby at least hammers of 20kg or 18kg are used by men to break the rocks from the parent rock. Sometimes if the parent rock is too hard; they employ the use of heat generated from burning fire wood.

Rock crushing

People’s standards of living in Mukono and other areas cannot be increased and level of dependency of women on their poor/ authoritative and controlling husbands and charity organisations will not be reduced due to slow businesses and the fact that people still have to spend longer hours or days crushing stones to fill up a forward truck or the size of an Elfu truck yet rock crushing is one of the major economic activity people depend on in Mukono district.
Rock crushing machines in this case are seen as tools that will greatly empower the women, make their work more enjoyable, easy and also give them the ability to crush more stones in just a few hours; meaning that with the use of machines, women will always have stones ready for sell giving them the ability to make more money and ability to compete with others in the same business.

I will talk about two types of rock crushers;
1. one who owns a quarry pit; this one is able to pay a huge amount of money then pay monthly charges
2. one who doesnot own a quarry pit; this one is only given daily jobs to help in the breaking of rocks from the parent rock and break the rocks in smaller needed sizes

It is advantageous to own a quarry pit; because you are able to be your own boss; you are able to save some profits after a sell; you are also employed throughout the year- as long as you want to work.
The disadvantages are; during rainy season, there is always need to drill out water from the quarry pit, which is quite expensive because if it rains for so long, quarry pit owners will have to abandon the quarry business for some time until the rainy season ends; also business will depend on whether the quarry pit owner is able to find market for the crushed stones; the quarry owners also face a problem of soil falling back into the quarry pits, meaning they will always need to pay someone to remove soils for them especially during rainy seasons. And lastly, some quarry pits are dangerous; one might lose life that is if they get covered by the soils.
Quarry pit owners normally pay about 20,000 (less than $10) or 15,000 Ugandan shillings (less than $10) to strong men to break the rocks for them from the parent rock; one gets paid 20,000 Ugx-if they break rocks that fill up a big forward truck or 15,000 if they break rocks that fill up an elfu small truck. This process involves digging deep down into the soils to find rocks that are covered by the soil s-so they use shovels, and hammers that weigh 20kg or 18 kg, and they also sometimes use the heat from burning firewood to weaken the rocks-so that they are able to easily break them.

The rocks broken from the parent rock are then brought to the surface where the women can easily crush them into smaller needed sizes; the people hired to carry the rocks to the surface are also paid and the amount paid depends on the depth of the quarry pit, but normally the amount paid cannot exceed 150,000 Ugandan shillings (Ugx)-which is less than $10.
The process of hitting the rocks into desired sizes then follows; the sizes include; quarter inch (normally used to build the beam of a building); half inch (used in the construction of floor); hardcore (normally put in the foundation of a building) and the slate (used like the tiles). The slate is cut by specific machines. The preferred rock type is the steel rock.

The people hired to break rocks in different sizes are paid according to the number of jerry cans they fill with rocks and each full jerry can goes for 300Ugx for quarter inch and 200Ugx for half inch- less than $1. Over 180 jerry cans of rocks fill up a big forward track and 110 jerry cans fill an elfu small truck.
When it comes to selling; the quarter inch rocks that fill up a forward truck are sold at 140,000Ugx ($42) and quarter inch that fills up an elfu truck sold at 100,000Ugx ($30). The Half inch that fills up a forward big truck goes for 100,000Ugx ($30) and 70,000Ugx $21) for an elfu small truck.
Customers come from all over Mukono district-those in need of rocks for construction of their houses.

The resources that I think can be helpful in the entire process are;
1. Water (in reach)
2. Fuel
3. Welders (in reach)
4. Electricity (expensive)
5. Space
6. Bicycles and spare parts shops available

Our target is to have a rock crusher that will be used by the majority of the women who don’t own parent rocks, who mainly work for other people using small hammers to crush rocks into small desirable sizes. The plan is to empower them through the peht- women group- through this process;
– A group of at least 3 to 4 women work/operate on one rock crushing machine to crush other people’s rocks (customers mainly owners of parent rocks) into their desirable sizes; the collected money will be used to pay them daily, machine maintenance, buy any other resources for use in the machine and also save in the women’s SACCO (Savings and credit cooperative) so that they can have access to loans with low interests and start-up their own income generating businesses.
Type of Rock; The most preferred rock is marble (Metamorphic rock)- the white is the best valued, though the locals named it steel.
People often get hurt by hitting their fingers and get hit by running rocks – but its one of those things that is always expected to happen-so people are always careful.
Safety of machines; True machines can get stolen- even the whole machine- I know Mukono district, therefore security is one of those things that are needed.

What is clear from this statement: we have a substantial SYSTEM design challenge on our hands– a good rock crushing machine will simply get stolen. We need to engineer a system that can quickly and easily make new rock crushers from easily available parts. The goal, as Becky put it over the phone, is a “circle”, i.e., a community of people that can create a sustainable system for making the machines, servicing the machines, using the machines, and owning the rock supply chain.

For the ME 316 gang, we have a Skype interview with Becky on Monday where we will begin developing our House of Quality.

ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 29: Kaizen and Poka-yoke

Remember our introduction of 5-S: Sorting, Simplifying, Systemic Cleaning, Standardizing, Sustaining. These are foundational to lean manufacturing and what is known as Kaizen:

Once you’ve systemized and standardized the work place, it is then possible to continuously improve our practices for the benefit of everyone. Example:


Part of this process is what’s known as poka-yoke or “mistake-proofing”. Ever wonder why an ethernet cable looks the way it does?

It’s to prevent the cable from being used incorrectly, or to prevent errors. It’s tough to break it when it can only be used in one way! This get’s into the topic of information entropy and we could discuss at length. In the end, we people make mistakes. It’s our job as engineers to continually work to reduce the possibility of mistakes and harm. We’ll get into this during our discussion of ethics is 3 weeks.

ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 26: Lean Manufacturing and 5-S


Rule 3 of engineering communication is efficiency: All I need to know about manufacturing I learned in Joe’s garage. The book changed my life. It might be the best $6 you’ll ever spend. Here’s why. Let’s take a quiz:

Joe is making cabinet’s for his garage and has a different production philosophy from Frank, who is trying to help. Here’s a couple of problems they faced:

1) Which plans should Frank and Joe use for the cabinets?

a) The highest rated cabinet plans Joe found on-line.

b) No plans required, figure it out as they work.

c) A book on custom cabinet design and production.

2) With a plan selected, it’s time to get materials. Joe has connections to lumber and cabinet supply liquidators that are 80% the price of the local hardware store, but must be ordered in bulk. Frank and Joe should:

a) go to the local hardware store and buy enough to build 1 cabinet.

b) buy all supplies from the local hardware store to promote the business.

c) place the bulk order while supplies last.

3) With the plan selected and materials in place. Joe decides to invite the neighborhood over to hammer the project out. Joe and Frank need to create an assembly line to keep everyone busy. They should:

a) assign everyone to different stations where they have just one job that they need to repeat for each cabinet piece handed to them. (i.e. we have a cutter, someone else that drills, another who sands)

b) assign everyone to a part and everyone completes the operations following the leader. (i.e. everyone drills, cuts, and sands their part at once following instructions)

c) assign individuals to cabinets who follow them from station to station. (i.e. they take they’re materials to the drilling station, following the drilling instructions, then to the sanding station, follow the sanding instructions, until the cabinets are assembled)

4) There are 4 drilling operations that must be performed. Frank and Joe should:

a) borrow 4 drills from neighbors for each of the operations.

b) use 1 drill press and build a different jigging fixture for each operation.

5) The question of quality control comes up. Frank and Joe should:

a) Assign a quality control master to each station for inspection.

b) Build jigs and label edges so that each part and process can only be completed in one way, with little thought or measuring required.

6) The question of assembly comes up. Frank and Joe should:

a) assemble each part as quickly as possible to check for fit and compliance.

b) wait until all of the parts are complete to assemble everything at once.

7) Half-way through Frank and Joe realize that a pipe along the wall of the garage cannot be moved and the cabinets need to be modified with a groove for the pipe. Frank and Joe should:

a) stop everything and inform everyone of the change.

b) add an additional step to the cutting instructions to cut the notch.

8) Near the end of the day, Frank and Joe realize that they are not going to finish the cabinets in time before everyone needs to go home. Frank and Joe should:

a) get everyone responsible for particular operations to commit to coming back at the same time on another day.

b) get everyone to come back for a final assembly.

c) Thank everyone! Frank and Joe can follow the instructions at each station to complete and assemble the remaining two cabinets.


(Answers: 1-c, 2-a, 3-c, 4-b, 5-b, 6-a, 7-b, 8-c)

Frank is following the Japanese philosophy of Lean Manufacturing, which is closely tied to Quality Function Deployment (QFD) which was the origin of the House of Quality we discussed previously.


Notice that the “Lean Manufactory” above is in the shape of a house and utilizes many of the elements, like Kaizen, as foundation. Opposing Kaizen is “5S”. 5S originally stood for 1. Seiri (sort), 2. Seiton (systematic arrangement), 3. Seiso (shine), 4. Seiketsu (standardize), and 5. Shitsuke (sustain). A great article describing 5S is here that provided the following rubric:

5S levels


For our specific build we’re both establishing the factory and working to complete our initial prototype. So far we just have a design and are looking to procure our first parts (question 2 from above). But with the principles and ideas of lean manufacturing in place, we can be confident in our plan to eventually deliver a working station with as little waste as possible.

ME 316 Mid-term design presentation: H2-Flo

On March 11th the collected students of ME 316 agreed to film and post their mid-term design presentation. In this video they introduce H2-Flo, the name of our hydrogen liquefaction system in honor of late WSU President Elson Floyd (known as E-Flo). The goal of the spring 316 build is to extend the work from last fall by designing and constructing the containment vessel for the liquefaction system.

A BIG THANKS is in order to the project sponsors: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, the Washington Research Foundation, Paul Laufman, Doug Orr, Don Shearer, and Tim and Beverly Hesterberg. Ag-Energy Solutions is also contributing as an in-kind project client. Your contributions are clearly having a considerable impact on the students and the future of clean energy.


ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 25: Recapping our midterm design presentation

Once again, outstanding job at your mid-term design presentations last time!!

Your clients and I met over spring break and reviewed your work. In general, we’re very impressed by the amount of work you’ve put into this. Even more importantly, we’re impressed about the level of ownership and engagement you have with the design.

When your clients were students here ME 316 was “completely different.” Their maturity at the end of class was also very different from where you are already at. It’s very common for people at your stage to coast: “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.” Also know as “what do you want me to do?”

We want you to genuinely care about this. We want you to do the hard work of a careful analysis. We want you to make recommendations that best meet our needs. We want you to engineer.

You’ve done this. Now it’s time to finish it off!

Your purchase requests were grouped into three categories: 1) purchase immediately (3 teams), 2) minor changes needed to be completed this week (2 teams), 3) significant analysis still needed before the end of the month (3 teams). In many cases your purchases won’t arrive for several months. In those cases we’ll execute your purchase and you’ll need to finish your report with a list of clear and succinct procedures to implement your design as intended. A team of students will work throughout the summer to finish the build.

In some cases the material is already here (system integration) or across town (paneling), and the build needs to commence immediately. We’re ready to build!!!

Open build time in TFRB 113 is scheduled from 2:30-5:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rules for building in TFRB 113:

  1. Where appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while in TFRB 113 (safety glasses, closed toed shoes are always requires, hardhats and earplugs are sometimes required).
  2. The buddy system is required. If you are working, you have a team-mate handy to watch and spot safety issues.
  3. You have a tool-list, part-list, and procedure approved by one of the project clients (Eli Shoemake, Brian Karlberg, Ian Richardson, Patrick Adam, or myself).
  4. Be a steward of the space! Replace all tools, parts, and label your work area to help others.

ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 22: Talks and Visuals to Remember

Hence what we’re doing here. Changing the world and how we educate.

So what are the clues to a great presentation? Here’s a start:

Now let’s talk about visuals.. The old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I’d like to add that 900 of those are irrelevant.

Images still follow our three cardinal rules for engineering communication: 1) relevance, 2) credibility, and 3) efficiency. Our brains are very good at spotting trends, specifically the change in one thing relative to another. Often this change is very difficult to describe through writing and it is often best to use a visual. When you understand when and how to employ visuals you will unlock a powerful compliment to your written narrative.

Here’s a start to developing good posters:

Mistakes with visuals are all too common. Professor Rod Lakes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an entire web-site exemplifying “abominable graphs”. Many of the most common mistakes are as simple as labeling axes, and providing simple units and integers for your readers to interpret.

Thankfully, we’re not the first, nor last to try to standardize graphic design. This article gives a nice overview of the history behind standard development. As it turns out, standards for effective graphs JSTOR Graphical Design Standard 1914. After teaching effective visuals for several years, I realized that I was encouraging the same practices as the standard. Here are a couple of core principles:

  1. Your primary goal is to help your readers quantify the change in a quantity relative to another versus a design variable.
  2. Context: You need to build up to the image in the narrative, show the image, then continue the narrative by describing what the image has taught us.
  3. An effective figure caption and accompanying arrows/labels go a long ways towards ensuring your audience does not confuse your visuals.

**Update: John Schneider sent along this new extensive study from MIT on effective infographs:

ME 316 Spring 2016 Lesson 21: End of Econ and prep for midterm design review

We’ll wrap up our Engineering Economics lectures today with examples using ACRS factors for estimating depreciation and capital costs.

As we look forward to our mid-term design presentations next week you need to consider the following:

Our primary objective for this review is to get client approval to begin purchasing and construction.

In order to do this, here is the content that each of the sub-component teams will need to present during the review:

  1. An overview that reminds us of your team’s specific goal/scope and why it’s a hard problem. I recommend this be the same or an improved version of what you already have developed.
  2. A concise overview of the three design paradigms you presented last time. I recommend presenting the three design paradigms next to eachother with a comparison table/list below each of them with quantifiable metrics pertinent to the design. Great metrics could include contributions to space, energy, cost, time budgets, House of Quality scores, compliance with applicable standards, cost of ownership, etc.
  3. Recommend a specific design. Here’s an example transition, “When we analyzed the options, Option A had the lowest cost of ownership and addressed design requirements X-Z while complying with NFPA/ASME/ASTM standard XXX.” It is not acceptable to simply tell the clients you are doing what someone told you to do.
  4. Present your specific design. This should include AT LEAST the following: A) CAD rendering of the component within the actual system (this shows the space requirement is satisfied), B) A list of vendors, purchase price/quote, lead time before it arrives (show that the time and budget requirements are satisfied), C) show that the weight/energy/safety requirements are satisfied.
  5. Discuss the interface/connection and implementation issues you anticipate having over the next month.
  6. A concise summary of the 5 above points pertinent to the clients decision of whether to approve this or not.

The role-teams need to consider the following:

Compliance: We’re rapidly approaching our last chance to make sure the designs conform with applicable standards. What’s more, we’re beginning to have to consider OSHA standards for workplace safety in order to construct the unit. Make sure you’ve identified the relevant standards and sections that need to be considered for this mid-term report. It’s not the client’s responsibilities to make sure we can actually build this! Let’s not commit ourselves to something we can’t do!

Builders: We’re relying on you for a lot over the next week. We need that system-level CAD model in addition to sub-system visuals. We also need a completed Bill of Materials (BOM) and completed purchase orders (found here) to submit to the clients next Friday.

Theorists: We need a completed HOQ through the Parts planning matrix submitted to your teams Slack feed. We also need your best estimates on progress towards the overall cost, power, weight, space, and time budgets. The entire presentation will likely need to close with updates on all of these issues.

Liaisons: You need to decided what to change about the presentation structure from last time, or if just polish is all that is necessary. You’ll want to work with the Theorists to make sure the budget(s) status is reviewed at the end of the presentation for the entire system. You also need to discuss with the reporters whether to present the content in a separate slideshow, or to use the mid-term design report (uploaded as a WordPress website) to give the presentation from. And of course, help out wherever your team needs it most.

Reporters: We need standard templates for the class to report this content with. We need to have both a presentation and a mid-term design report for the clients to review (we don’t want them feeling rushed or making hasty decisions). It’s up to you and the Liaisons to decide whether the class can give the presentation directly from the WordPress posts, or if a dual-pronged approach using both the website and presentation (which is more work!) are best.

That’s a lot to do in a week gang. But it’s got to get done. Work efficiently, use your engineering judgement, and let’s get approval to build this thing!

Shipping container arrives for H2-Flo Hydrogen Liquifier

The 20′ shipping container that will house our H2-Flo liquefier (a.k.a. the Heisenberg Vortex) arrived from DryBox USA out of Tacoma yesterday:


We are using ISO container dollies from Merrick Tool corporation, ME 416 students Derek Johnson and Carl Mayer are in the foreground:


Once off the truck we had to role it into TFRB:


Brian Karlberg, the TFRB space zar is in the foreground. Once we had it in TFRB, we were able to open it up, and so initiated the build phase of our project!


Washington State University