Senior engineering majors make projects
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Gerad Lieb, Greg Ohnemus, Luke Walmer and Ben Hockman have spent many nights in front of computers in Pearson Hall designing their senior engineering project for Smiths Detection.
Smiths Detection works to design threat detection equipment and x-rays for airport security. The company’s x-ray has had recent problems with alignment, so the group is focusing their project on the creation of a conveyer belt for a smaller version x-ray scanner.
“We’re trying to correct the problem and prevent it from misaligning,” Ohnemus said.
Using SolidWorks, a 3-D computing and drafting program, the team is able to do just that by designing the project before they start building, though they plan to build their prototype within the upcoming weeks, Walmer said.
Their project is a part of the six-credit capstone course MEEG 0401 “Senior Design” for mechanical engineering that divides students into 22 teams complete design-related tasks for a company. Advisors try to make the teams as diverse as possible by making sure the students’ experience levels and GPAs vary. Michael Keefe, an engineering professor and advisor to the program, said after students meet with sponsors on the first day of class, each team ranks which company they would like to work for. Based on their interests and rankings, the five advisors place the teams with a company and they begin their projects.
Nate Cloud, an advisor to the program, said he has spent the last 14 years soliciting sponsors for senior design. While 60 to 70 percent are repeat sponsors, he calls companies and briefly describes the course while looking for problems companies are experiencing. Each company pays a $5,000 participation fee, in addition to providing the groups with a budget to build their prototype.
“[Students] get a degree and an education,” Cloud said. “They get real experience and knowledge so that when they get hired they’ll hit the ground running.”
Michael Brill, a manufacturing engineer at Smiths Detection, stated in an email message that he and three other employees work closely with the group. Smiths Detection has provided their team with $5,000 to complete their project and helps them by giving feedback and answering questions.
“The goal is to ultimately get a working prototype from these funds,” Brill said.
Brill said this is only possible if they give the students as much flexibility to be as innovative as they can.
Members of Smiths Detection will analyze the final product and make sure the design meets requirements within all levels of the organization, according to Brill.
“The hope is that we will be able to use the new design and implement it into our product,” Brill said. “We have given the students specific metrics and expectations that should allow them to meet success criteria of product implementation.”
The sponsor company determines how much freedom it gives to its groups. Keefe said the advisors talk to the sponsor ahead of time to scope the project, make it executable and meet the standard of senior design.