Innovation News 03 July 2024

Pioneering Aerospace Innovation: UW’s Capstone Collaboration with Latecoere

Ty Harris, a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Washington (UW), recently completed an ambitious capstone project sponsored by Latecoere. This innovative project brought together five ME seniors—Judah Wong, Anh Huy Lam, Karl Lervick, Michael Sandow, and Ty—under the mentorship of Professor Lucas R. Meza and industry expert Sébastien Devillez from Latecoere.

The team’s mission was to design a new aircraft door structure using lattice structure. The goal was to reduce weight by optimizing load paths, while maintaining structural integrity & safety standards and controlling production costs. “We were given a list of all of the possible capstones and it was among our top choices,” explained Ty. The project involved understanding the need, researching the topic, proposing solutions, and iterating through CAD models and finite element analysis.

Pictured from left to right: Anh Huy Lam, Karl Lervick, Ty Harris, Michael Sandow, Judah Wong

Innovative Design Choices

Material-wise, aluminum was chosen as it had already demonstrated to meet the needs of an aircraft while not being as expensive as others like titanium or carbon fiber. Efficiency drove their manufacturing process choices. “If our design could be comprised of many 2D parts, it would reduce the need for expensive and wasteful machining and allow for water jetting. The design was chosen because of the innovative nature, and marking a clear difference from previous designs, as well as allowing us to model it in CAD without complex 3D beam structures.” Using ABAQUS, the team simulated real-world pressures on the door structure.

As for any research project, the team met challenges. The original 2D modeling made the interactions between beams behave improperly as cause issues in their results. “Following the recommendations of our mentors we remodeled the door in 3D, then used midplanes and the correct thickness in ABAQUS to get the correct model while still maintaining the benefit of analysis in 2D.” Lattices were demonstrated to have a great potential for weight saving and were not shown to create significant stress concentrations. “Our method of fabrication is an alternative to most other doors in the industry, if it is shown to be viable it would drastically reduce the amount of wasted material and likely the cost”, reckoned Ty.

Pivotal Collaboration

The collaboration with Latecoere was pivotal to the project’s success. Regular meetings with Sebastien Devillez, R&T manager at Latecoere, provided critical feedback and recommendations. “Sebastien gave us advice and ideas that would be good to look into“, said Ty. Also, access to industrial tools like SolidWorks, ABAQUS, ANSYS, and an industrial laser cutter was crucial for bringing ideas to life.

For Ty, the project was a profound learning experience. “The transition to successfully simulating the door was a great accomplishment. And the hands-on nature of the project reinforced my desire to work somewhere I can see the results and be involved in physical fabrication, which is the part of the design process I enjoy the most.

Future-ready engineering

Ty envisions a future where engineering education continues to strengthen its ties with industry partners like Latecoere. “I would like to thank Latecoere for the opportunity, and especially Sebastien Devillez for all his help throughout the project.” The success of this capstone project highlights the innovative spirit at UW and underscores the importance of industry collaboration in advancing engineering education and real-world problem-solving.



Stéphane Bouzat, SVP R&T and Innovation at Latecoere:

At Latecoere, we believe that fostering strong partnerships with academic institutions is crucial for driving innovation and addressing the complex challenges of the aerospace industry. Collaborations like the one we have with the University of Washington’s Capstone Program not only provide students with real-world experience but also bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to our projects. The ingenuity and dedication demonstrated by Ty Harris and his team are a testament to the value of these partnerships. This project underscores the industry’s commitment to nurturing talent and advancing engineering education, ensuring that our sector remains at the forefront of industry innovation.

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