University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering

Mechanical Design Laboratory



A wide variety of research activity involving designing, building and testing mechanical, electro-mechanical and electro-hydraulic-mechanical devices and systems is undertaken in the department. Recent projects include: design and construction of a hand-powered racing bicycle for paraplegics; a free-piston engine-pump; a hypocycloid compressor (to achieve dramatically reduced levels of vibration); a modified hypocycloid engine; a lawn mower deck for improved mulching performance; a computer controlled multi-axis testing machine; and a variable IC engine valve actuator. The graduate students involved in these projects develop their skills through design, analysis, simulation and, in most cases, building and testing the devices. In this way the students learn to appreciate the many details that must be carefully addressed in order to develop a successfully functioning mechanical device. While the Mechanical Design Laboratory has a wide variety of equipment to facilitate the construction of various designs, it is much more than just a facility: The laboratory represents a philosophy that it is essential to building and testing mechanical designs in order to appreciate their nuances and develop proficiency in the discipline of mechanical design.