Automating semiconductor manufacturing processes

Mechanical engineering seniors Daniel Adamo, Sameer Naguib, Kelly Tolman, Kayla Johnson and Adam Griffith also collaborated with an industry sponsor for their capstone project. The team worked with Intel to improve a step in their circuit board manufacturing process, developing a prototype to automate the fastening of the heat sink to the board.

This crucial step is typically done manually with a torque driver. Automating the process increases the step’s accuracy during manufacturing.

The heat sink is a vital component in hardware, helping cool circuit boards as they generate heat during operation. Managing their temperature achieves optimal performance.

“When Intel approached us with this project, they had an automatic tool to help with this step, but it only used a single motor. It was facing an issue where it was not torquing all the individual screws the same amount,” Naguib said. “Our prototype has four separate drivers that allow us to determine programmatically if all the screws are torqued to the right specifications.”

Adamo said his team contributed improvements beyond adding more motors.

“We also included a proximity sensor, which can sense metal within five millimeters and is the most pivotal part of our design,” Adamo said. “A separate motor raises the boards up to the drivers, and the proximity sensor sees the Intel product, communicates to the motor to stop, delays a couple of seconds and then activates the main drivers to operate once it has identified the correct position.”

As former Intel interns, Naguib and Adamo have experience working closely with the company and understand throughput is a top priority.

“They want to make sure products are moving as fast as possible while maintaining the same level of quality,” Adamo said. “This prototype can help simplify the microelectronics manufacturing process while making it faster and more precise.”

Award-winning research

The most compelling student presentations and their associated projects were also honored with Best in Showcase awards and a $500 cash prize, funded by an anonymous Fulton Schools alumnus. One project per school received an award, with the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy splitting its prize money between two projects that tied.

The Automated Heat Sink Fastener project was one of those two. The other winning project was the Dual Powered Energy Water Purifier.

Led by team members Seth Randall, Wilson Ooi, Tasnia Hossain, Riley Ober, Daniel Martinez and Mauricio Pinon Molina, the project displayed a water purification system powered by two sources: electrical and solar irradiance. The team’s prototype purifies water using an evaporation and condensation cycle.

The School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence Best in Showcase award went to a team consisting of Zachary Smith, Elizabeth Arnold and Anna Mendenhall, who developed a vehicle autopilot program to use with the ASU Luminosity Lab’s pre-existing hybrid electric vehicle. The goal of the project, called Trident One, was to develop a vehicle autopilot program capable of Level 3 automation, meaning the system can perform all driving tasks for the vehicle while enabling the driver to take over when requested.

The winners of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering Best in Showcase award included seniors Dhrasti Dalal, Alan Ramsey, Derek Smetanick, Ashley Tse and Shaun Victor. Their project, Developing an Implantable Electrode to Treat Spasmodic Dysphonia, was sponsored by Mayo Clinic. The team created an implantable electrode for the laryngeal nerve to treat a condition called spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder that causes laryngeal muscle spasms, resulting in irregular speech.

Annelise Krafft

Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering