The Trinity campus houses sophisticated research laboratories and well-equipped machine and electronics shops in addition to lab space for student design projects.
Engineering students have access to on-campus facilities including the Centene innovation and design studio, the control systems laboratory, the electronics laboratory, the thermal/fluids laboratory, and the Chemical Engineering Laboratory for classes and project work.
The electronics laboratory is used for courses where students learn about electronic instrumentation like the oscilloscope, the digital multi-meter, and the function generator. Projects begin with Kirchoff's Laws and continue through audio preamplifiers, power amplifiers, and even a simple analog to digital converter.
The lab is also accommodates several workstations for simulation and general purpose work, including printing images from oscilloscopes or putting them into lab reports. Senior Design groups often use the room for storage and workspace.
This laboratory contains advanced electronic instrumentation, including high-speed mixed signal oscilloscopes (both a two-channel analog scope and a 16-channel digital logic analyzer in one unit), function generators, and digital multi-meters. State-of-the-art digital design software is also available.
Development systems used in courses taught in the lab include Altera DE0 Field Programmable Gate Arrays (Complex Programmable Logic Devices), 68S12 based systems, PIC-based systems, and Arduino-compatible controllers. Robotics projects such as line-followers, wall-followers, and fire-fighting robots are utilized in both Senior Design and the other design courses.
The controls laboratory contains a number of "plants" such as the coupled tanks, the ball and beam, the ball and hoop, and the light box. It also incorporates the core feedback control class as well as electives in mechatronics and thermal fluids applications. Our Junior Design class utilizes this room as well.
Fluid mechanics is the study of how fluids flow based on the forces acting on them. Using the thermal fluids lab, students learn about fluid statics, the study of fluids both at rest and in motion. They also learn how heat is transmitted from a "hot" source to a "cold" source based on different modes of heat transfer.
The thermal fluids laboratory has four lab stations that consist of a workbench table, a data acquisition system, and a computer. The lab also contains two wind tunnels, a hot-film anemometer station, a thermocouple welding station, and a pressure differential calibration station.
The chemical engineering laboratory is the focal point for our chemical engineering classes and also comes into use during Senior Design projects. Equipment in this laboratory includes a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, an autoclave, a shaker table, an oven for performing reactions at elevated temperatures, and data acquisition equipment for recording data from experiments.
Motivated by the significance of fuel films to engines' hydrocarbon emissions, the thin films lab at Trinity University studies the evaporation of liquid films composed of multiple hydrocarbon components.
This lab works to better understand the transport mechanisms controlling film evaporation and, through precise measurements, provide experimental data that can be used to validate computational models of film evaporation. Because engine designers rely heavily on computational models, it is expected that better characterization of film evaporation can lead to the design of more efficient and cleaner burning engines.
Kevin Nickels works on both planetary and space-related robotics. He has worked extensively with NASA on the visual control of robot manipulators, and has developed robotic platforms at Trinity for his work on computer vision
The robotics laboratory contains Nickels' current platform: a nonholonomic system designed for basic intra-office navigation and control, called CAPEK, after Karel Capek, the Czech playwright who coined the term robot. The lab also maintains hardware and software platforms for student projects.
Wilson Terrell Jr.'s work focuses on the heating and cooling of open cavities. In collaboration with the University of Texas, he is investigating MPCM (Micro Encapsulated Phase Change Material), a novel material that encapsulates a phase-changing material in small granules, increasing the heat capacity of the cooling fluid.
He was awarded a New Investigator's Grant by the TSGC for his work with MPCM work. His research also is funded by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC).
Equipment in the HVAC lab includes two fully instrumented primary refrigeration loops, one constructed by a Trinity University Senior Design team. Another Senior Design group is designing and constructing a secondary loop to interface with this primary loop.
Faculty and students use this facility to research microwave structures and systems that address the needs of modern communication and sensing systems. Applications of this work include building new analog-to-digital converters, arbitrary signal generators, chemical/biological sensors and improved communication transceivers.
The lab includes a large, well-grounded table on which to assemble, characterize, and test microwave components with sensitive electronic equipment. Students and faculty also have access to simulation-based PCs and dry storage cabinets for electronic components.
Jack Leifer primarily investigates gossamer structures, or those made with ultra-lightweight materials. He investigates how they move in earth gravity and, in some cases, in zero gravity (for 30 seconds at a time, on NASA's KC-135 aircraft). His work is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In the lab, Leifer and his students utilize multiple high-speed cameras in a process called videogrammetry to reconstruct motion in three dimensions. Students also use videogrammetry to study the motion of humans in automobile accidents.
Diana Glawe studies advanced materials, from sustainable construction materials like compressed earth blocks to space-age components developed using biomimetic nanotechnology. She collaborates with a team of chemists and material scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Our machine shop contains all the standard machine tools for mechanical design, including a four-axis mill, sanding and grinding machines, a band saw, and a drill press. A full-time mechanical technician supervises the shop, gives safety training to students as required, and helps in fabrication.
Our electronics shop, staffed by a full-time electronics technician, supports our instructional classrooms, design laboratories, and research activities. Facilities include soldering, cable fabrication, PCB layout and design, and component interfacing.
The design workroom is used for classes and as a workspace for student organizations. Equipment includes sheet metal-forming equipment, pipe benders, and other mechanical tools. Chemical engineering classes make use of the workroom's two industrial-scale distillation columns. An Instiron materials-testing machine also allows students to investigate stress/strain curves of various materials.