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Mechanical engineering senior design project wins Engineering Project Showcase in College Station

Published May 07, 2014


A capstone senior design project by a team of mechanical engineering majors from Texas A&M University at Qatar won their division in the 2014 Texas A&M University Engineering Project Showcase 25 April in College Station.

Seniors Mohannad Mohamed (pictured above with the team's award), Jassim Al-Maadadi and Abdulla Marafi topped 78 other teams in the Capstone Division with their project, “Seawater Desalination Plant Power.” More than 150 projects representing 600 students were featured in the second annual showcase in Reed Arena.

The project stemmed from a problem statement — building a seawater desalination plant — delivered by Fluor. Mechanical engineering, civil engineering and chemical engineering students from Texas A&M at Qatar and the University’s main campus in College Station worked in smaller teams to design various aspects of the overall plant.

Mohamed, Al-Maadadi and Marafi focused on the power portion of the overall project, designing a system to generate and distribute power throughout the plant. The team proposed an enhanced geothermal power system — the first time such a system has been proposed in Qatar.

“Geothermal plants are in operation all around the world,” Mohamed said. “They’re a promising source of energy in the United States, Iceland, France and Germany, for example. Also, there are a lot of desalination plants in the Middle East, so it’s interesting that the two had not been combined before.”

Mohamed said he had to convince a lot of people — including his own teammates — that the idea was sound, but eventually succeeded in proving the idea’s feasibility using what the students learned in their course senior design course taught to them by Dr. Michael Schuller, professor in the Mechanical Engineering Program.

“It seemed outlandish,” Al-Maadadi said. “But Dr. Schuller taught us that no idea was too stupid.”

Throughout the course of their project, the students visited several desalination plants in Qatar, talking with industry practitioners and getting to work with and examine equipment actually being used in industry.

“What we were learning was actually being used in the real world,” Marafi said. “This project taught us so much.”

The seniors said that coming in first place in the Capstone Division was a big honor for them, and for the University.

Al-Maadadi said, “This project and our result reflect well on the overall concept of this University, that the education we get here is equal to that of the main campus in College Station. We have equal potential and equal knowledge as our fellow Aggie engineering students in Texas.”

With graduation approaching this week for Mohamed and Al-Maadadi (Marafi will graduate in December), the teammates were especially proud that the win represented the culmination of all their years of study, not just one class.
And, they said, the project gave them the chance to practice other skills that will benefit them in industry after graduation.

Mohamed added, “This project wasn’t just about the technical work. It was also about teamwork, respecting each other’s opinions even if we disagreed, so we could put our engineering and technical skills to the test to solve problems. It wasn’t a smooth ride but we did it, and we appreciate the assistance of Dr. Schuller.”

Marafi agreed, saying,” It was all about multidisciplinary teamwork. We had to be successful in communicating with the other teams who were working on the overall plant design.

Marafi said, “This project helped to prepare me for a future in the oil-and-gas industry because it was relevant to industry in Qatar. I hope other engineering students at Texas A&M at Qatar get an opportunity to work on similar projects.”

For information contact Michael Schuller:, +974.4423.0458.