Purdue Calumet students get top grade for pump
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org April 6, 2013 9:14PM
Purdue Calumet professor George Nnanna talks about the pump system designed by senior Tianwei Wang and fellow senior Dennis Cox Friday afternoon at Purdue Calumet. The refrigeration and heat pump system recently received top ranking from the American Society of Heating
Updated: May 8, 2013 7:12AM
HAMMOND — “Is this your Ph.D. project?”
“Have you been working on this for more than a year?”
Purdue University Calumet students Tianwei Wang of Beijing, China, and Dennis Cox of Schererville had just finished a presentation on their design for a refrigeration and heat pump system at the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers winter conference in January in Dallas when they were peppered by questions from those impressed by their project.
They competed with 23 other teams for $4,994 in funding support as part of the 2012-13 Senior Undergraduate Project Grant Program, and they received the top ranking. The pair developed the system for their senior capstone course under the direction of professor of mechanical engineering George Nnanna.
“We were very surprised,” Wang said. “The 24 teams were chosen from around the world.”
They were only seniors at the time, but Nnanna said the level of technical expertise was impressive because few undergraduate mechanical engineering students get a chance to tackle such a comprehensive project.
“What’s unique about our program is the level of engagement in projects,” Nnanna said. “We give them practical engineering problems to tackle and they have to apply the theories learned in class.
“The fact that they ranked No. 1 in the country is very good for a university of this size.”
The system now sits in lab classroom at PUC — ready for students in HVAC, thermodynamics and fluids courses to conduct experiments with.
Wang demonstrated aspects about the system in the lab: the ability to reverse its airflow and temperature with the flick of a switch, and a safety switch which shuts the system down when the pressure gets too high.
“The air conditioner and heater can simulate spring, summer, winter and fall seasons,” Wang said, “and we can use that to make future predictions.”
Wang and Cox were called in to diagnose an HVAC problem when a PUC biology lab was requesting a new system. They used their design and construction skills to fix the system, thus making replacement unnecessary.
Wang will continue his graduate studies at PUC because he isn’t sure that he get another chance to build another refrigeration and heat pump system at another school. It’s uses a two-ton compressor, which is typically used to heat and cool a single family home. He’ll continue to work on the system to study how to increase its coefficient of performance with direct evaporative cooling.