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Better kidney machine, ultra commute car star Thursday in design demo

STANFORD -- A filtration measurement device that will lead to smaller, more portable home kidney dialysis machines and an ultra-safe driver's compartment for the BMW of the year 2000 will be on display Thursday, June 6, as part of the Stanford Mechanical Engineering Department's 1991 Design Affiliates Conference.

Twelve teams of graduate students will demonstrate their working designs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 6 at Terman Engineering Center, Room 556.

Each of the teams from Prof. Larry Leifer's Automation and Machine Design class took a real-world manufacturing problem from an industry sponsor and -- with $10,000 to $25,000 in sponsor support -- produced a working prototype of its solution. The results include a system that Boeing will use to improve inspection of the 760,000 rivets in each 747; a computer-component packing system that will go directly to work in Apple Computer's warehouse; a device to help Veterans Administration therapists work with hip replacement patients and train them to walk again; and a system for Ford that could make four-wheel steering affordable in small cars.

The BMW design team cut apart a 735i and created a driver's seat that stayed in place, so it could sustain higher impact and so the car could be designed without driver "blind spots." The steering wheel and pedals, rather than the seat, adjust to fit each driver. The goal is to keep the driver safe in a small, high-mileage, high-performance commute car of the future.

Leifer's co-lecturers in the class are research assistants Michael Strange and Margot Brereton.

Last year's designs from this class took five of the 12 awards in the F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation competition, considered the "NCAA finals" for mechanical engineering designs. Corporations compete to have design problems considered by the class, and students, who leave in June with their master's degrees in mechanical engineering, are hotly recruited by corporations.



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