Four Cal Poly mechanical engineering seniors were awarded first place for the 2017 Applied Engineering Challenge Jan. 20, sponsored by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE).
The four student winners are Sunghoon Chung, Austin Hochstetler, Sean Bybee and Antonio De Jesus Aguayo. They were accompanied by mechanical engineering assistant professor Steffen Peuker.
This year, the ASHRAE Applied Engineering Challenge centered around using evaporative cooling to increase the efficiency of a residential air conditioning unit in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The issue with using evaporative cooling is that it is a less effective method when used in a humid environment,” Aguayo said. “My team and I were able to come up with the competition’s best design by using [and] implementing evaporative cooling in an unconventional manner and creating a theoretical computer simulation.”
This is the third time in the last four years that Cal Poly has won the competition.
“The Applied Engineering Challenge requires not only technical expertise, but also creativity, innovative solutions and excellent team work,” Peuker said. “The ‘thinking out of the box’ required for this particular ASHRAE challenge fits very well with Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing approach and our students did an outstanding job.”
The competitors attributed part of their success to the Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering Department.
“The [Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering] program is definitely not a cake walk … We used [Engineering Equation Solver], a lot of thermodynamics, energy modeling, [and other things] to work through this competition,” Bybee said. “From what I’ve been told, other schools don’t learn as much of the thermodynamics or use psych charts, a very useful tool, or even use these modeling programs to the extent that we do.”
The Mechanical Engineering Department plans to send students to the ASHRAE competition in the future to continue to prove Cal Poly’s program to be one of the best.