Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Timothy Hight

Second Advisor

Terry Shoup


This team was connected to a brick-making social entrepreneurship in Ciudad Darío, Nicaragua. Travel to Nicaragua in March of 2018 determined that the entrepreneurship wanted a manual brick press to increase the mechanical properties of bricks while decreasing the time needed for the bricks to dry before being baked. Fabrication of a semi-functional beta prototype was completed in May of 2018. Prototype operational tests showed that one cycle of brick compression and retrieval took roughly 3.5 minutes to produce a single double-sized brick. Water absorptivity tests determined that compressed bricks of red art clay experienced a percent absorptivity of 20.5%, with non-compressed bricks formed in Nicaragua having an absorptivity of 35.0%. Finally, the ultimate compressive strength of bricks produced using the prototype averaged to 1,640 psi, as compared to 822 psi of the Nicaraguan brick. Insufficient data was collected to confirm the safety and effectiveness of the design. Several mechanical errors in clay compression and subsystem interferences merit further redesign. Recommendations for design iterations are included for future design teams to finalize and deploy the device.