The 2022 SNL Capstone Competition Team poses for a photo. From left, team advisor Curtis O’Malley, Samuel Baca, Yazbeth Montoya, Elijah Morris, Isias Kamplain, Benjamin Brown and Parker Randall. Team member Jett Emms was not present.
Photo courtesy of NMT Communications

New Mexico Tech took second place in this year’s engineering design competition between the state’s three technical universities.

The competition was held on April 20 and 21 at Sandia National Laboratories on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. The Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Capstone Competition challenges engineering students to solve a specific engineering problem.

The Tech team and teams from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University were tasked with protecting a 200-gram payload with a 3D-printed cradle designed to withstand environments that would replicate re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere as well as a crash into the ground. These environments consisted of random vibrations, thermal cycling, compression and shock from an explosion.

Tech’s cradle performed successfully, and, according to team leader Elijah Morris, even upped the ante by being reusable after each environmental test.

Additionally, as a demonstration presented by Sandia, each school’s cradle was subjected to a shockwave 10 times the force of the original test that was performed and judged against. In this test, Tech’s cradle was the only one to stay intact during the blast, and only sustained damage when it impacted the ground after the blast.

Sandia tasks the universities’ teams with a different problem every year. In the past, these challenges consisted of devices that were to be manufactured to accomplish a specific set of tasks (protect a payload, collect data, etc.), designed to fit within a certain criteria (weight, size and material specifications) and withstand specific environmental conditions (shock, acceleration, thermal cycling, random vibrations, etc.). These competitions are curated to help solve real-world problems that Sandia National Labs is facing, as well as exercise the student’s scholastic abilities.

New Mexico Tech’s team members were: Benjamin Brown, Yazbeth Montoya, Jett Emms, Isias Kamplain, Parker Randall, Samuel Baca and Elijah Morris. Dr. Curtis O’Malley, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, advised the team.