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Car and a design project

And today fun was had!
Started off at about noon. With a friends car that wouldn’t start.
So, off to campus I go and jumper cables in tow!
And the car is still a no go.
So the car gets towed!
(and wow does this rhyme blo… stink – more on that latter)

Ok, so off the car goes, off I go to a final. After the final I get to go on an impromptu field trip to the UW-Platteville Farm.
First time I’ve ever been their. So I went with another student and a professor to see what project they had in mind for our senior design class for next semester, and boy does it stink (I mean that literally).
Liquid Manure! That’s right, liquid manure! The farm has a prototype machine that separates the liquid manure into the solid and the liquid (not that the process itself is a prototype, just the machine they are using is a prototype). The are looking for a DOE (design of experiments) analysis to determine the optimal settings on the machine to produce the best output, in this case the most nutrient rich solid waste (i.e. – none in the liquid waste) for future use.
While the aspect of working with liquid manure isn’t too appealing, it is an engineering project with at least 72 possible combinations of settings from just our quick overview (5 different controls, some have 2 settings, some have 3, so 3*3*2*2*2=72). Naturally using DOE we would never do all 72, but a small sampling of them to determine the ones that truly matter to find the best settings.
Problem is – it’s winter. This stuff is a bit, um – frozen, right now. They believe that the machine could be running by mid March easily… add in a week or a bit more for the state lab to return the results of the nutrient analysis and we’re looking at a big time issue.
Basically, if we took this project we would have half a semester to complete it, not the full semester. That is a problem, and I believe as a result we’ll pass on this one (and my nose thanks me for unrelated reasons!)

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