VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s College of Engineering is partnering with Jamie Hyneman, Co-Host and Executive Producer of the Discovery Channel program “MythBusters” and owner of M5 Industries, for an innovative senior capstone project. Hyneman will co-advise and consult with a team of senior engineering students at Villanova, whose project seeks to utilize solar thermal energy to heat water for residential heating use.
As part of this project, a group of five Villanova mechanical engineering seniors will design, build and test a prototype. The engineering design students completed a theoretical study of a basic system as juniors last year and are looking forward to adding some unique aspects to their design during the prototype phase. This design aims to manipulate the properties of the heat absorbing fluid to increase its effectiveness at absorbing solar energy. The ultimate goal is to create an inexpensive, highly effective residential solar hot water system. As part of the upcoming senior capstone project, the students will work on system design and materials testing during the fall semester and focus on building and testing a prototype in spring 2015.
The capstone team will be advised by Dr. Amy Fleischer, a professor in Villanova’s mechanical engineering department and a widely recognized thermal design expert. (Pictured above: Professor Amy Fleischer with Jamie Hyneman at the MythBusters studio)
“This is an excellent opportunity for students to work on a design that has the potential for some significant long-term impacts in efficiency improvements for sustainable energy systems,” said Fleischer. “The opportunity to collaborate with Jamie Hyneman is exciting and fun for the students, but also adds a layer of accountability for their work.”
Fleischer and Hyneman have been exploring this design topic for a while, and determined that the concept was ready for testing and protyping. Thus the time was right to bring in a student team to lead the design of the prototype system.
“The project we have presented is a new and very cost effective approach to collecting heat from the sun,” Hyneman said. “Dr. Fleischer is at the top of the field when it comes to this type of engineering, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with her. If this is a valid approach, she and her students will be able to verify that and optimize it.”
“This is a rare and ideal project for these students in that it poses some very intriguing theoretical questions right next to a super practical way of implementing them if it all comes together,” added Hyneman. “The students will be able to see theory put into practice, and be made ready to bring to market, all in one project. The goal is a device aimed at preserving resources and reducing impact on the environment – a very motivating thing for young people these days."
Hyneman is no stranger to Villanova, as he’s had an on-going collaborative relationship with the College of Engineering for a number of years. He teamed with Villanova engineering professor Ed Dougherty and others in designing the aerial robotic camera system Wavecam, used at sports and entertainment events including Villanova basketball games. Hyneman’s company, M5 Industries, has also partnered with Villanova’s College of Engineering on projects including the development of new concepts in blast resistant armor for the Office of Naval Research. The two also collaborated on a two-year study funded by the Office of Naval Research to investigate disasters at sea. Additionally, Hyneman has lectured and interacted with Villanova engineering classes and professors on capstone projects, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. In 2010, Hyneman delivered Villanova University’s Commencement Address and received an honorary degree.
Best known as co-host of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated “MythBusters,” Hyneman has been in the visual effects field for more than 25 years. He holds several patents and is a longtime Screen Actors Guild member and a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators. Hyneman is also the owner of M5 Industries, the special effects workshop where MythBusters is filmed.
About Villanova University College of Engineering: Founded in 1905, Villanova University College of Engineering is committed to an educational program that emphasizes technical excellence and a liberal arts education within the framework of the University’s Augustinian Catholic tradition. The result: “Whole-Brain Engineers,” who pursue both knowledge and wisdom, and aspire to ethical and moral leadership within their chosen careers, their community and the world.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.