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Andy Alcantar (right) and Emmanuel Valencia (left)
Andy Alcantar (left) and Emmanuel Valencia (right), and two other mechanical engineering students helped design the Rotating Equipment Selector App for Siemens Energy. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

A group of students in the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University was tasked with creating an application for Siemens Energy capable of helping customers select appropriate machinery. A senior capstone design project that seemed unusual for mechanical engineering students turned into an opportunity to broaden their skill sets and create connections.

"Most projects that we receive in the mechanical engineering department require physically building something," said Andy Alcantar, team member and mechanical engineering student. "It was a memorable experience, and the project felt meaningful because we were able to develop an app that people are using right now."

The company offers a multitude of products, but customers were unable to see the inventory listed in one place and could not differentiate between similar items. 

This problem led to the idea of digitizing their catalog into an app that provided an interactive experience for the customers. The app's purpose is to determine what kind of motor or turbine is required based on the information input by the customer. Whether this is a gas turbine or a centrifugal compressor, the app can decipher the exact product that meets the user's specific needs.  

"The objective for our team was creating the framework that will support the app," said Emmanuel Valencia, team member and a mechanical engineering student. "Throughout the project, we were using what we learned in our coursework by applying our knowledge of thermodynamics and heat transfer." 

Alcantar and Valencia and two other mechanical engineering students, Travis McQuinn and Zach Sheard, were responsible for developing the Rotating Equipment Selector app. They created the framework and algorithm, and a team of four electrical engineering students from Texas A&M integrated their work into the completed product.  

The students were exposed to industry and business first-hand, requiring them to communicate effectively with people who possess varying skills and expertise to make connections outside the classroom. 

"I had to learn how to collaborate with engineers from different disciplines and determine how my lingo and skills differentiated from theirs and vice versa," said Valencia. "We were able to maintain a close relationship with Siemens Energy and they did a great job of giving us industry insights." 

Valencia and Alcantar are now both pursuing master's degrees in mechanical engineering. Their capstone project showcased the essential skills required to be successful in their education and the business sector.  

"We saw how important the app was to Siemens Energy, and we wanted to provide something useful for them," said Alcantar. "We put in a lot of effort and work to achieve the goals they set for us. We gained a deeper understanding of the business aspect of managing your time and presenting a product."

Dr. Joanna Tsenn, assistant professor of instruction in the mechanical engineering department and the senior capstone design projects coordinator, discussed the students’ experience and the opportunities available for students through the program. 

“This project was impactful because it allowed the student team to utilize what they learned in their previous classes while pushing them to learn additional skills that can benefit them in the future,” said Tsenn. “The Siemens Energy project is another great example of how our mechanical engineering senior design students can collaborate with their sponsors to deliver real-world, useful solutions.”