UW-Madison Students Advance Automation Capabilities

Innovation is at the heart of everything produced at Shade Haven, from industry-leading mobile shade systems to accessories and add-ons that enhance grazing success. The company is currently focused on developing capabilities that would automate movement  of the Shade Haven within a paddock.

“While the Shade Haven prevents heat stress and productivity loss in livestock, it’s also a nutrient management tool,” noted Shade Haven president Reed Doerr. “Automating the Shade Haven saves valuable time for busy farmers, while distributing nutrients throughout a paddock to maximize pasture health.”

Four aspiring engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently helped to bring this technology closer to commercialization. Biological Engineering students Paulina Baker, Yusra Houidi, Paul Lema and Meera Manoharan selected Shade Haven Automation as their Senior design project .

The design project spanned two semesters. The first semester was devoted to concept and design. The second semester was devoted to building, testing and refining an attachment for the SH1200 that would enable automated movement across varied terrains.

The team overcame numerous challenges during the development phase. Working with industrial grade motors and controllers, building a complex structure, and conducting numerous calculations put classroom knowledge to the test.

“Anticipating potential issues with hardware, software, and delivery timelines is crucial in ensuring the success of any engineering project,” said team member Paulina Baker. “This experience has honed my ability to identify and address challenges preemptively, a skill that will undoubtedly serve me well in my future career.”

This transformative experience has  advanced the students’ knowledge of mechanical systems, fabrication methods and industry standards.

“This has been an amazing experience,” said Lema. “I feel like this has been bigger than the rest of my college combined in terms of learning and real takeaways. I want to thank Shade Haven for supporting us and for believing in us.”

The work these students have done paves the way for field testing and further refinement with a marketable product to follow. Shade Haven appreciates the time and dedication invested by these future engineers to move it one step closer.

Meet the Team

Name: Paulina Baker
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Natural Resources Track
Primary role on the project team: Tire Subassembly Design and Fabrication
Plans after graduation: I plan to pursue a master’s degree. Currently, I work for the WI DNR as a wastewater specialist and also for REAP Food Group, a food justice non-profit in Madison, as a food box coordinator for the Farms-to-Families initiative, serving Latinx and indigenous families. I hope to continue working for both, doing work that feels necessary in our community.

Name: Yusra Houidi
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Machinery Emphasis
Primary role on the project team: Steering Design and Fabrication Lead
Plans after graduation? I plan on pursuing Engineering Design roles following my graduation in December 2024. This summer I will be working as a Design Engineer intern at Toyota Motor North America in Michigan.

Name: Paul Lema
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Machinery Systems Emphasis
Primary role on the project team: Fabrication & Design Lead
Plans after graduation: I recently started looking at grad school in Biological Systems Engineering. In the meantime, I plan on returning to my family’s farm in Ecuador and working on developing infrastructure and machinery for the agriculture of the mountains.

Name: Meera Manoharan
Major: Biological Systems Engineering – Natural Resources Track
Primary role on the project team: Pivot Design
Plans after graduation: I will pursue a government job that specializes in water conservation or sustainable energy. Through this job I plan to become a PE within four years following my graduation in May 2024. I am taking the first step toward this goal by taking the FE exam this semester.