32nd Annual Meeting


October 29 – November 3, 2017
The Westin Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Conference Chair:
Vivek G. Badami, Zygo Corporation

Student Challenge

Sunday, October 29, 2017, 5:30 PM – 12:00 Midnight – Work Time
Monday, October 30, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Presentations

Providence II Ballroom

Chairperson:  Luis A. Aguirre, 3M Company


Challenge Sponsors

nsf1 ASML4
Platinum Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Simens1  unclogo

Bronze Sponsors

The Student Challenge and It’s Mission
The American Society for Precision Engineering will host the 4th Annual Student Challenge at this year’s Annual Meeting in Charlotte.  The Student Challenge was created to help ASPE develop new talent that not only understands the basic engineering principles, but students who can also use their hands to quickly build prototypes that demonstrate those principles.  The Student Challenge endeavors to bring together students who are studying in the areas of precision engineering – controls and mechatronics; machine design, precision manufacturing, characterization, metrology and micro and nano technologies – and organizations looking for students who are studying in these areas. As part of the event, there will be organizations donating funds, time and equipment that will provide support.

Sponsorship Information

The 2017 Active Vibration Isolation Challenge
The goal of the Student Challenge is to stabilize a laser pointed at a fixed target. The laser is attached to an active isolation system that will be built by each team. Feedback for stabilization can use one or more MPU 9250 triple axis accelerometers and knife edge displacement sensors. A first test will be the ability of the isolator to maintain the laser on target at a distance of 6m. For the second test, a motor spinning an unbalanced mass will be attached to the underside of the breadboard, inducing a test vibration. The speed of the motor will then be increased while the laser is projected onto a circular target, again at distance of 6m. The performance will be assessed by the motor speed at which the pointer cannot stabilize the position of the spot within the circle.

The isolation mechanism will mount directly onto breadboard plates (Newport 12x12x1/4-20). Four coil springs will be attached to the underside of the bread board plate forming compliant legs. This breadboard plate will be placed on a table in the work room where the competition will take place and the active isolation mechanism must be assembled onto the board. The angular displacement of the breadboard due to the unbalanced mass (without the additional mass of the isolation mechanism) will be limited to ±0.5 degrees. Mechblocks, voice coil actuators, voltage to current amplifiers, knife edge sensors and MPU 9250 triple axis accelerometers will be the only components used in the assembly of the isolation stage. A complete spreadsheet containing detailed information plus component STEP files will be available to all teams. A National Instruments myRIO will be supplied (if necessary) for controlling the isolator as will software to read the MPU 9250 over the SPI bus.

Awards, Rules, Registration and Materials for the Student Challenge

The winning team will be awarded $4,000, while the second-place team will be awarded $1,000.  The winning team will be announced on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 8:00 PM , just after the keynote address.  The winners, along with all participants in the Student Challenge, will also be recognized at the Wednesday Business Luncheon on November 1.

Teams must be between 3 and 5 students and are required to have a professor as a team mentor. Members must be full time students in an accredited University. At least 3 students must be present in-person for the October 29-30 sessions in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE***NSF Grants are available for students attending all three days of the technical conference.  Please apply.

Students will assemble their teams and register them with ASPE.  Teams will work on the design, and then the judging committee will review the designs and provide feedback by October 1 (Assembly designs will need to be submitted – instructions on how to submit will follow – on or before September 22, 2017.). On October 29, starting at 6:00 PM, students participating in the Challenge will have access to the room to construct their designs. Doors will be closed at 2:00 AM on Monday, October 30. At 12:00 Noon on October 30, each team will be given 10 minutes to present their devices and answer questions. Judges will evaluate these projects based on design, presentation, team-work, innovation, achieving specified static and dynamic performance. The judging procedure will be described in detail before the event starts.  Announcement of the winning teams will be made at 8:00 PM on Monday, October. 30.

Sign-up for the Student Challenge Early and Take Advantage of the Loan of Hardware

To enable early registered teams to become familiar with the hardware for the Challenge this year, a minimal set of hardware is available and can be shipped to the institution of the participating teams.  This will include a myRIO (only for teams that do not have this), voice coils, amplifiers, a minimal Mechbloch kit with sufficient parts to construct a single degree of freedom translation stage, a laser and the three-axis accelerometer. More details of this hardware can be found in the bill of materials (BOM) that can be used during the Challenge.

Teams can accept responsibility for this hardware and keep it until they deliver it to Challenge as they arrive at the conference and least two hours before the Challenge commences. Otherwise this hardware can be returned at least two weeks prior to the Annual Meeting start dates.  At the Challenge, teams will have previously provided a BOM for contruction of the active isolation system. If approved, any additional hardware will be provided to each team at the start of the Challenge.

To request a hardware package contact Wendy at ASPE.


CAD files of all parts plus specifications can be found below under the heading Files for Challenge.

The Student Challenge is limited to 10 teams and slots will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Please register as soon as possible.

Student Challenge Registration

Important Dates

May 16, 2017
Rules and files posted
August 22, 2017
Last day to register for Event
June 20, 2017
Student notification of NSF Grants
September 25, 2017
Last day to submit designs
October 29, 2017
After 6:00 pm open Student Challenge event
October 30, 2017
Lunch and judging of presentations; Presentation of winner.

See Last Year’s Challenge




Luis A. Aguirre
, 3M Company

Byron R. Knapp,
Professional Instruments Company
Ty F. Safreno, Trust Automation, Inc.
Alexander H. Slocum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stuart T. Smith, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Alex Sohn, Oculus
Shane C. Woody, IST Precision