Students develop projects to solve existing industry problems

Companies to benefit from mechanical engineering students’ design innovations KENNESAW, Ga….

Georgia (Apr 30, 2015)

Companies to benefit from mechanical engineering students’ design innovations

KENNESAW, Ga.  (April 30, 2015) — Standing in a room filled with fellow mechanical engineering classmates, Kennesaw State University faculty and industry experts, Michael Deppa presented his group’s solution to a company’s ongoing dilemma with its assembly line. 

The engineering showcase in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus featured some of the most innovative and inspiring applications of mechanical engineering. The 15 featured projects demonstrated the hundreds of hours that students spent creating concepts to remedy real-world industry problems.

Deppa, of Marietta, worked with three mechanical engineering classmates, Michael Harper, Thomas Ryles and Alex Toro, to create a bottle-filling mechanism for his current employer, Zep Inc., a consumable packaged goods company that makes professional strength cleaning solutions such as pet shampoo and drain cleaner.

Zep’s problem was there were no features incorporated into its manufacturing process to keep the industrial cleaners, which often contain acids, from spilling onto the assembly line.

Deppa and his team designed the bottling system which includes a “no bottle, no fill safety device,” built to the specifications needed by ZEP.

“The system can fill 36 bottles per minute with up to 32 ounces of product in each bottle,” said Deppa, who earned his first bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from Kennesaw State eight years ago.  “That’s 14 gallons a minute of industrial cleaners. The device we created will keep the filler from filling when there is no bottle in place.”

The pushpin mechanism identifies a ready bottle, triggers a light that tells the filler machine that the bottles are in proper position and bottle filling can begin.  

“The specific design reduces the recirculation of materials which creates aeration and foaming in many formulations, leading to residue on the filled bottles,” said Steven Kullberg, director of Operations, Retail Supply Chain at Zep Inc.

Deppa’s group designed the large mechanism with more than 1,700 components and 73 custom parts. The group anticipated an expected cost of more than $125,000. 

“If this design is successful in extending the filler life, the cost could provide an attractive ROI,” Kullberg added.

The group tested and analyzed velocity as well as dynamic and static load calculations for stresses as the bottles moved through the machine.  According to Deppa, the usable life span of the machine should be about a million cycles, which is a standard in manufacturing.

The Zep project was just one of many developed by senior mechanical engineering students to solve real-world industry problems.

“These senior design projects allow the students to identify and study an actual problem in industry,” said Mir Atiqullah, professor of mechanical engineering and organizer of the senior design presentations. “They learned how to design and simulate their project, and the students needed to consider the customer requirements and engineering specifications to develop a model prototype.”

Projects assisted the medical field, targeted improvements in hunting equipment, developed an innovative product, or solved a household problem.


-- Tiffany Capuano; photo by David Caselli 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit