Cal Poly Engineering Team Wins International Student Design Competition

November 21, 2016

A team of Cal Poly mechanical engineering students won first place and $4,000 at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’s 2016 Student Design Competition on Nov. 13 in Phoenix.

Cal Poly’s five-member team displayed a battery-powered, model-sized manufacturing system that fired paper projectiles through the air. Judges assigned scores based on the total distance traveled by the projectiles, among other criteria.

Team members included Kevin Marshall (Edmonds, Wash.), Kota Ozawa (Culver City, Calif.), Max Weinstein (Moraga, Calif.), Eric Zhong and team leader Nelson Lin (Escondido, Calif.). Mechanical engineering Professor Tom Mackin is faculty advisor for the team.

Cal Poly competed against 16 teams from colleges and universities around the world.

“We were competing against 200 engineers from 11 countries, all here because of their design prowess,” said Lin. “What made our entry stand out was its simplicity, which we achieved by reducing the number of moving parts, together with a modular design that we developed to optimize size and mimic a real process line. It was through that design-build-test process that, two months into our design work, we discovered our winning idea. We had come up with a dart-shaped design — the only such projectile there — that beat out the second-place Hong Kong team by four times their score.”

Also key to the team’s success was its application of robotics, microcontrollers and 3D printing.

“Kevin was essentially our MVP, as he has substantial experience in those areas,” said Lin.

The competition, including finalists from regional events held during the course of 2016, was held in conjunction with the ASME’s annual weeklong International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.

“The Student Design Competition challenged the ability and aptitude of this world’s future engineers to design a model of a functional manufacturing system,” said K. Keith Roe, ASME president. “The field of manufacturing accounts for the majority of private research and development spending and employs a significant number of engineers.”

About ASME
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real-world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.

To read more about the 2016 ASME Student Design Competition challenge, visit

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Pictured, from left, are ASME winners Kevin Marshall, Eric Zhong, Nelson Lin, Kota Ozawa and Max Weinstein.

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