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Mechanical engineering seniors rack up more national design wins

Kaitor Kposowa | Dec 1, 2014
Mechanical Engineering Sr. Design 2014
Photo by Abby Chiki

Mechanical engineering seniors rack up more national design wins

Kaitor Kposowa | Dec 1, 2014

Photo by Abby Chiki

For the third time in four years, Ohio University mechanical engineering senior design teams have won top national design awards from the James F. Lincoln Foundation (JFLF), bringing their total contest winnings in recent years to more than $100,000.

Team Hayes won the $1,000 gold award, and Team Wingnuttery won the $750 silver award in the foundation’s Arc Welding Division IV contest. The projects were the culmination of the students’ year-long senior capstone design experience, “Designing to Make a Difference.”

Department Chair and Robe Professor Greg Kremer, architect and leader of the senior design course, said the continued awards communicate the importance of what – and how – students are learning.

“I believe the repeated success of our mechanical engineering design teams in national design competitions is a testament to the creativity and practical skills of our students, and to the dedicated faculty and staff who are at Ohio University because they truly care about students and supporting their learning experience,” he said.

By designing an automated lead casting machine that can be operated with limited physical effort, Team Hayes’ project enabled local entrepreneur Bill Hayes to start a home business and keep working while managing limited mobility due to a degenerative illness.

Team Wingnuttery built an industrial-scale chestnut cracking machine to reduce processing time for Meigs County farmer Kurt Besler.

“This project was important because it helped a local chestnut farmer be able to process more chestnuts as well as give us the opportunity to gain some real world working experience,” said senior Matt Bardeen.

The machine receives chestnuts via a large hopper and feeds them into an airstream, which carries the chestnuts to an impact plate where a collision takes place and cracks the shell.

“It’s performing very well,” Besler said. “The students supplied a great deal of information on the machine – its assembly, its functionality, and its performance. I really appreciated that.”

Besler plans to use the machine to scale up his business and is even building a barn to house it. He commended the team for their professionalism.

“That’s a good sign for a design group,” he said. “They were very attentive to my needs, very responsive to questions and took my knowledge base very seriously.”

Designing to Make a Difference teams have accumulated more than $100,000 in prize winnings from various competitions over the years, including winning or placing in the national Ability One Network Design Challenge in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; and earning a first and second place J.F. Lincoln Foundation award in 2013 and a second place in 2011.