Nick and Zack win UT Capstone Project Showcase

A team of students from the UT Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering have spent the last 2 semesters working with the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center, better known as The Body Farm, to build a bone fracturing device needed for research. Deroyal's very own Manufacturing Engineer Technician Nick Poker and CAD Engineer Zack Ziegler were on the winning team from the UT Mechanical Engineering Senior Capstone Project Showcase. 

The students built their winning device for this senior design course, which allows students to apply all their acquired knowledge, such as engineering skills and science comprehension, to solve an actual problem within the community. The final prototype was displayed at the Tickle College of Engineering’s Senior Design Showcase, before winning the 1st Place Best Mechanical Engineering Project Award. 

Nick and Zack

The BoneCrusher

The "BoneCrusher", which is 6 ft long and 6.5 ft tall, allows users to control the amount of force, impact duration, and location of impact on bones, all of which are needed for force trauma research.

“The device is an integral part to produce blunt force fractures,” Vidoli stated. “This project will be the first research in which complete human bodies will be impacted with blunt force to four areas of the body: skull, thorax, humerus, and tibia.”

The device was built so the output force is easily adjustable and the impact duration can be adjusted in increments of 0.1 seconds. The largest force the students recorded during their testing was 1,900 pounds. 

“The device will be used to help document the survivability of blunt force fracture evidenced following a burning event, and will provide tools to successfully differentiate blunt force trauma from thermal trauma,” explained Research Associate Professor and Assistant Director of The Body Farm Giovanna Vidoli. “This will improve the scientific knowledge of the fracture pattern expected in bone with pre-existing trauma.” 

The faculty and students at The Body Farm plan to start using the device on human bodies in the fall.

“Research into many different kinds and sources of trauma was performed in an attempt to find accurate force values,” fellow team member Daelyn Greene said. “Data from impact trauma performed in a lab setting, trauma data acquired from car crashes, and trauma data acquired from crime scenes were three of the major sources we used to get an accurate picture of the varying forces we needed to output with the Bone Crusher.”

Congratulations to Nick and Zack!