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Ohio University mechanical engineering students take home national honors for senior design project

By Leah Nairn

ATHENS, Ohio (May 29, 2012) -- A team of five senior mechanical engineering students from Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology have taken home third-place honors from the Ability One Network Design Challenge for their capstone senior design project. Team Diverse Edging - ME senior design - Ability One award

The award includes $3,000 for the department and $3,000 to be split among team members. This is the third Ability One award for mechanical engineering teams in recent years  -- two previous senior design projects were awarded Ability One’s top prize of $10,000.

Under the umbrella of “Designing to Make a Difference,” the original, assistive technology projects were developed with the goal of supporting individuals and small businesses in the region.

This year’s winner, Team Diverse Edging, worked with SW Resources of Parkersburg, W.Va., to develop a system that would reduce the complexity of assembling garden edging components and enable more employees to participate. SW Resources employs more than 200 individuals with disabilities.

“It definitely feels great to see our hard work pay off,” said Jordan Oswald of Pictairn, Penn. “We had countless hours invested into the design and production of our project. It is rewarding to see our work actually benefiting the individuals that it was designed to help,” he said.
Oswald and fellow team members Tim Bressau and Christopher Clary of Mason, Ohio; Noah Needler of Athens, Ohio; Ryan Nida of Lancaster, Ohio; and David Redwine of Cincinnati collaborated developed two devices for the company.
The first device helps align three anchor pins that hold the garden edging in place. This makes the assembly easier to tape the pins together. The second device uses a pneumatic system to slide the connector into the edging piece keeping a consistent distance for every assembly.
Diverse Edging also used the talents of fellow seniors Joseph Schilling, an industrial and systems engineering major, and Adam Naab-Levy, an electrical engineering and computer science major, on the project.
 “It feels really good to win the Ability One award,” Clary said. “It shows that all of the time and work that we put into the project was not only rewarded by the smiles on the employees' faces, but also this prestigious, nationally-recognized award.”

Department of Mechanical Engineering Chair Greg Kremer said he was particularly proud of how well the students worked with the client. “Team Diverse Edging really excelled this year at keeping in contact with their project partner SW Resources, keeping on schedule, making good engineering decisions and putting the finishing touches on their prototypes to make them look and perform like professionally-made products.  They are deserving of national recognition for their work.”

In other competitions, Team Assistive Adventures won a silver award in 2011 from the J. F. Lincoln Foundation for a modified, off-road wheel chair design. An additional team won the National Institute for the Severely Handicapped’s National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation & Design.

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