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Engineering technology and management alumnus reflects on patent earned during student internship

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Mar 29, 2019
Mahr

Engineering technology and management alumnus reflects on patent earned during student internship

Bennett Leckrone and Colleen Carow | Mar 29, 2019

When Russ College of Engineering and Technology students practice problem solving in class, the skills they develop carry over into the real world.

Recent engineering technology and management (ETM) graduate Brandon Mahr, BSETM ’19, used those skills to earn a patent during the first of his two student internships at Toyota in Buffalo, West Virginia.

The patent, on which Mahr was the principle inventor, is for a transport assembly that uses workpiece-securing devices on an automated guided cart – a smaller version of an automated guided vehicle, or AGV – to prevent equipment from falling off or being damaged.

“We had a couple of engine part drops on our line during initial testing, and due to the way that the parts were loaded and unloaded, we were at risk of having to spend significant money to either purchase new automatic guided carts or modify the existing ones,” said Mahr, a native of Rutland, Ohio. “So, I was trying to develop a device that ensure safe part transport, while keeping it as inexpensive as possible.”

Assistant Chair of ETM Zaki Kuruppalil wasn’t surprised when Mahr, who was a Russ College Engineering Ambassador and a James H. and Nellie Rowley Jewell Cutler Scholar while at Ohio University, told him about the patent. After teaching Mahr in three classes, Kuruppalil knew Mahr was a great problem solver.

“It's a classic example that this person can think out of the box,” Kuruppalil said. “That will definitely give you an edge.”

Kuruppalil said while employers can glean communication skills and academic success from the interview process, student project work and real-world experience highlight creativity and the ability to apply coursework. Kuruppalil noted that much of the Russ College’s coursework focuses on equipping students with tools – and then presenting them with a problem to figure out.

Mahr, who also interned at Electrocraft, Inc., while a student, is now on the engineering staff at Honda in Anna, Ohio. His devices are being used at multiple Toyota plants across the United States, including in Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi.

“Automation is only growing and becoming more important as time moves forward,” Mahr said. “And engineers need to remember that the simplest solution is the best solution, especially when it comes to automation.”

Marissa McDaid contributed to this story.