Chemical engineering students’ ingenuity was on display at this year’s Capstone Design Competition

Monday, April 11, 2022

Kyle Pieters, Elena Ancimer, Nicholas Rasmussen, and Christopher Sung

Congratulations to all the winning teams!

On March 28th, 2022 the Department of Chemical Engineering proudly displayed its Capstone Design Projects in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The projects were exhibited inside E7’s event space. The atmosphere at the event seemed charged with the excitement and enthusiasm of the thirty-two teams participating in this year’s event.

Each project was a culmination of the knowledge and skills the students acquired during their years in the Chemical Engineering Program. Participation in these projects allowed the students to implement and experience the concepts of research, design, project management, and collaboration with teammates that are central to the Chemical Engineering Program. The teams worked under the enthusiastic guidance and supervision of course instructors Lena Ahmadi, Jason Grove, and one faculty mentor who has expertise in their design problem.

Inspiring passion

The members of the team that won the Best Overall Project Bhattacharrya Award are Kyle Pieters, Elena Ancimer, Nicholas Rasmussen, and Christopher Sung. The team members reflected on their experience as undergraduate students in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

The best part of our experience in Chemical Engineering would have to be the passion. Our classmates and professors brought so much passion into their work every day, and really made it a great experience. Chemical Engineering is broad, and through our courses and work experience, we touched a wide variety of fields and learned a lot about the world. Over the past 5 years, we’ve grown substantially and learned so much about ourselves. Thank you to everyone who supported us!

This year’s Chemical Engineering Capstone Design posters stepped it up a notch with projects ranging from designing a hybrid portable refrigeration system for vaccine storage to creating a high-protein fermented beverage. Other inventive projects sought to address issues of our changing planet such as developing a method of pollination that does not rely on pollinators, electrifying a First Nation’s vehicle fleet, creating an efficient, environmentally friendly compressed air energy storage system for remote Canadian communities, and exploring the feasibility of a process that utilizes direct air capture and mycorrhizal fungi to separate and store CO2.

It was a tight race for the top prizes and the judges certainly had to make some tough decisions! They narrowed the field down to the following four winning teams.

Award winners

Team 30: Recycling Multilayer Film via Solvent Extraction

Kyle Pieters, Elena Ancimer, Nicholas Rasmussen, and Christopher Sung

Winners of the Best Overall Project Bhattacharrya Award

When asked about the rewarding aspects of working on their Capstone Design project, Team 30 commented,

Wow, where to begin? The whole experience was incredibly enriching, but if we had to choose just one aspect, it would have to be solving a real-world problem. We set out to tackle the growing issue of multilayer plastic packaging use, which cannot be recycled via traditional methods. Environmental sustainability has been increasingly in the spotlight, and we handle multilayer plastics every day. Being able to develop a novel process from the idea stage through to execution that can solve a highly applicable problem was very rewarding.

Team 5: Conversion of PET Waste into Activated Carbon for Wastewater Treatment Applications

Second place winners

Kris Ma, Steven Vilcacundo Molina, Nicole Howard, Rachel Blanchard, and Professor

The second-place winners from team 5 were Kris Ma, Steven Vilcacundo Molina, Nicole Howard, and Rachel Blanchard. Team 5 members are pictured above with their faculty mentor, Tizazu Mekonnen. Team 5 member, Rachel Blanchard was very hopeful about future prospects for their design project.

We hope we can validate our project on a larger scale and actually implement it.

Team 11: Project Fish Florentine: Growth of Fish Tissue Cells on Decellularized Plant Material in Bioreactor

Third place winners

Amrin Bhangu, Iain Wright, Maria Blagojevic, Audreie Primandono, and Andrea Crow

Members of Team 11 were Amrin Bhangu, Iain Wright, Maria Blagojevic, Audreie Primandono, and Andrea Crow. Team 11 member, Andrea Crow describes the work done in their Design Project as,

A step in a new direction, as previously they only looked at cell growth on an inedible microcarrier and now the path has opened to explore it on an edible microcarrier.

Team 17: Household Cannabis Oil Extractor

Winners of the People’s Choice Award

Mukunda Murali, Rhys Vollmer, and Sean Doran

After winning the People’s Choice Award Team 17 members, Mukunda Murali, Rhys Vollmer, Sean Doran, and Bradley Smith opened up about their project, hopes for the future of their product, and their experiences as students in chemical engineering,

The most rewarding part of this project was getting to apply our degree to a really fun part of the industry. Leveraging a traditional engineering degree in a new and upcoming field felt so fresh and really energized our work habits for the project. As for the future of our project, each of us truly believes in the product that we have created. There is no telling what the future holds, but the dream is to one day bring our product to market. The best part of our experience in the Chemical Engineering Program was easily the relationships we have made along the way. Over the last 5 years, we have made lasting friendships that have helped make this journey extremely fulfilling.

Congratulations to all 32 teams for all your hard work and accomplishments!

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