Vacation Student Program
Undergraduate vacation scholars are exposed to the forefront of our hard rock cutting research, where they are immersed in solving a range of engineering challenges and scientific problems whilst gaining a valuable set of skills to compliment their technical knowledge from university.
During the 2018 Summer break, our team welcomed Eugene Tan and Patricia Tatel for the vacation student program!
My time as a vacation student at CSIRO involved working on multiple problems under the Mineral Resources Actuated Disk Cutting project. There were two main areas that I worked in. These were statistical analyses of rock cutting data and mathematical modelling of cutting force and torque relationships in actuated disk cutters.
The first area in the topic of statistics was focused around identifying trends between the independent variables and the results from experimental data. In particular, my area of work was to devise a simple method for modelling the effect of the independent variables on the shape of the force and torque profiles of the experimental data from the Wobble test rig. I was also tasked with testing alternative scaling methods in order to identify any other potential statistical relationships between independent variables of the experiment and various measures of the experimental data. These measures included maxima, minima, critical point positions and profile standard deviations.
The second area of my work pertaining to the mathematical modelling of force and torque relationships was a contrast to the former topic of statistical analysis. My work involved proposing a simple torque model based on the assumptions of the previous models and testing each of the assumptions using several mathematical methods to develop a coherent mathematical relationship between cutting force and actuating torque. I managed to extend the existing model to account for tangential and frictional forces. This has consistently shown improvement in the predictive ability of the torque model.
My research focused on analysing the effect of microwave radiation on mechanical systems, such as sensors and moving components, and develop a strategy for shielding components from electromagnetic damage. As I am currently studying a dual degree in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering and Physics, I was very excited to engage in a research problem where I can directly combine both my passions!
Before I dived into shielding solutions, I designed a microwave applicator and a mechanical assembly which will be exposed to radiation. I focused on implementing a thorough engineering design process to optimise each design version. The mechanical analysis involved bearing calculations, fastener selection, static/dynamic load analysis, linear motion design, and so on. In this analysis, I developed a CAD drawing of my design for FEM stress modelling, and created a mechanical design calculator for different input/output parameters.
The selected shielding technique from my literature review was integrated into the assembly. Afterwards, I wanted to quantify the development of the electromagnetic field over a given exposure time. I attempted to write a solver in Python using a FDTD approach which solves coupled Maxwell and Thermodynamic equations; but it required a large computation time. Therefore, I took advantage of a FEM software which provided equivalent solutions with less computational effort. The integrated shielding method was shown to be extremely effective in preventing leakage, however the simulation found a reflective plane along the path of the focused microwave field. I progressed my work from here by further optimising my mechanical assembly, and minimising such reflections until the end of my scholarship.