Engineering Technical Communications Class Design Challenge Is No Bull!

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An undergraduate Engineering Technical Communications class recently had the unique opportunity to work with local industry leaders and create innovative designs to address a real need.  Students in a section of this Fall’s ENGR 2367 class piloted a collaborative educational model with representatives of Worthington Industries, a leader in the diversified metal manufacturing industry headquartered in central Ohio, and one of Worthington’s customers, Select Sires, a Plain City, Ohio-based industry leader in reproductive management solutions for dairy and beef producers.

An ENGR 2367 class design team shows their prototype for the design challenge.

An ENGR 2367 class design team shows their prototype for the design challenge.

The two companies presented their real-world problem to the class: they needed a vessel custom designed to effectively and safely transport hundreds of bull semen samples to farmers around the U.S.  Select Sires specializes in providing highly fertile, superior genetic products to enhance the productivity and profitability of their customers, dairy and beef producers.  The transportation of such a sensitive biological product faces many challenges, from temperature control to complex logistics management.  This challenge was not a typical assignment for the undergraduate students, who needed to quickly become knowledgeable about a broad range of topics including livestock breeding, shipping regulations, and the cost, use and limitations of raw materials such as stainless steel and expanded polystyrene.

A student design team presents their prototype to the audience.

A student design team presents their prototype to the audience.

The course was led by instructor Mary Faure, Director of the Engineering Technical Communications unit in the Department of Engineering Education, while the collaboration with Worthington Industries was facilitated by the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability staff at Ohio State’s Institute for Materials Research (IMR), Dr. Jay Sayre, Assistant Vice President, and Kari Roth, Senior Technology Integrator.  This multidisciplinary pilot project attempted to fill gaps within the engineering curriculum by offering instruction and practice in communication through a high-quality, industry-led learning experience for students.  Industry partners engaged in conversations with students about their teams’ design responses to the problem, allowing the students to gain one-on-one attention from practicing engineers and to hone their interpersonal and communication skills while completing their projects.

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A student design team shares their proposal with the class and judges.

“Today’s engineering students need engaging, contextually-positioned technical communications, project management, entrepreneurial thinking, and teamwork instruction and practice in order to perform well in advanced discipline-specific engineering classes, internships, capstone, and in their entry level engineering positions,” said Faure.  “This project was designed to provide important skill-building through an authentic, hands-on experience, which today’s students crave, while fulfilling an essential component of the General Education curriculum.  It gives students a unique experience without adding credit hours to their curriculum or cost to their college expenses.”

 

“This wasn’t just a hypothetical situation… It was a very real problem and we talked to real engineers, real businessmen from real companies, to solve a real need.” – Ben Beecroft, second-year student, computer science and engineering

 

Student design groups were able to present their final designs at an evening event in the new Materials Innovation space on Kinnear Road.  Each group was given up to 15 minutes to present their vessel design to the judges, Dr. Bill Benson and Michael Luh from Worthington Industries, and Mel DeJarnette with Select Sires. The lively presentations included videos, prototypes, and many unique suggestions to best transport Select Sires’ bull semen samples across the country safely to its customers.  All teams received constructive feedback from the judges, who had the difficult task of selecting a winning design.  Worthington Industries generously provided gift cards to all members of the winning team – Alex Machtay, Matt Rowland, Robert Jankovsky, and Adam DeNise.

The winning student design team (Alex Machtay, Matt Rowland, Robert Jankovsky, and Adam DeNise) joined by judges Mel DeJarnette with Select Sires and Dr. Bill Benson and Michael Luh from Worthington Industries

The winning student design team (Alex Machtay, Matt Rowland, Robert Jankovsky, and Adam DeNise) joined by judges Mel DeJarnette with Select Sires and Dr. Bill Benson and Michael Luh from Worthington Industries

The industry partners who participated in the pilot said they enjoyed working with the students, were surprised and pleased at the quality of their projects, and would welcome continuing the collaboration in the future with another cohort. One student from this class is now being considered for a summer internship with Worthington Industries.

The hope is that the success of this authentic, interdisciplinary learning experience paves the way for an “integrated curriculum” that crosses college boundaries, offering students of all majors engaging, high-quality learning experiences that more accurately prepare students to be effective in the workplace or in graduate schools regardless of their disciplinary interests.

Participants in the student design presentations event included ENGR 2367 students, instructor Mary Faure, and representatives from Worthington Industries, Select Sires, and the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability program.

Participants in the student design presentations event included ENGR 2367 students, instructor Mary Faure, and representatives from Worthington Industries, Select Sires, and the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability program.

Ardeshir Contractor Gives Energy and Environment Discovery Themes Seminar February 7

Join us Tuesday, February 7th at 2:00 PM for “Factors Influencing Product Innovation in Solar Markets,” an Energy and Environment Discovery Themes Seminar with Ardeshir Contractor, Founder and CEO of Kiran Energy, IMR Executive in Residence, and Ohio State Mechanical Engineering alumn. This talk will focus on both product innovation in solar energy and innovation in sustainability financing, and will be of interest to those working in materials science, energy policy, clean tech, entrepreneurship,  global sustainability, business and finance, and innovation.

 

Energy and Environment Discovery Themes Seminar

 

 

Contractor photoArdeshir Contractor, Founder and CEO, Kiran Energy

Factors Influencing Product Innovation in Solar Energy Markets

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2:00 – 3:30 PM

Mason Hall, 2nd Floor Rotunda, 250 West Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210

Reception immediately following program

Registration: Discovery Themes Survey RSVP 

 

 

 

Co-sponsored by the Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability Discovery Theme focus area, Institute for Materials Research and Fisher College of Business

 

Abstract

Background

In 2010, Ardeshir Contractor raised $80M from three US private equity investors and a joint venture with First Solar to build Kiran Energy – a solar energy utility at the forefront of India’s solar energy market.  In its journey, the company examined and deployed multiple innovative products seeking higher performance with leap-frog cost economics and also set early benchmarks in non-recourse project financing.

This talk will focus on both product innovation in solar energy and innovation in sustainability financing.  The size of the solar energy market is significant – nearing an annual investment in solar energy new power plants of $250B.  Solar modules, inverters, monitoring systems, and storage comprise most of this number.  The addressable market for the introduction of new solar technology or product innovation is very large and allows for immense scalability.  The solar market is truly global both in terms of markets and suppliers.

 

Product innovation in solar energy

The seminar will include a review of effective product introductions, many of which exhibit similar characteristics of product astuteness and a drive to forward-looking performance and commercial targets.  Not all successes have been smooth, some of the leaders have had setbacks including unforeseen technical issues.  The large amounts of investment required for manufacturing and selling implied a constant requirement to maintain the path and story of strong financial returns.  Blending aggressive technology and commercial innovation appears to have worked. It is useful to examine how such dual innovation is embedded in a product offering.

 

Innovation in sustainability financing

Solar energy components and systems are expected to function for 20-30 years and the overlay of bankability and financing are critical especially for innovative technology.  The long-term nature of the finance and returns – coupled with the very scale of the explosive investment needs – has required the development of new financial market products and market sources.  Very quickly the sustainable financing story has evolved from government and agency support to mainline financial markets.  However, analytical processes and the banking institutions are still retooling for this.  In addition, an asset that functions over such a long term would require financial evaluation and analysis methods that align with its characteristics.  The approach is to describe these efforts, the evolution of sustainable financing and what it implies to product innovation.

 

Speaker Biography 

Ardeshir Contractor chairs India’s solar energy task force at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and partners with the government in developing policy, standards, and technological opportunity for Indian manufacture in solar.  He is also an adjunct Research Associate with Edhec Infrastructure Institute, Singapore, investigating long term asset finance principles.  In December 2015, he addressed the United Nations at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21), and he was deeply involved with the UN Environment Programme’s Enquiry on the design of a global sustainable financial system.  Mr. Contractor has served on the boards of Nature India, Government Committees, and Clean Energy Ministerial.  He received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University, was the recipient of the 2015 College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and is currently an Executive in Residence with the Institute for Materials Research.

 


Ohio State’s materials research engine and the Discovery Themes program it drives are helping to position Ohio State as a model 21st-century land-grant university focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The depth and breadth of our faculty, the ingenuity of our students and the global reach of our partners is at the heart of Discovery at Ohio State.

Plotting a Path to Innovation

Plotting a path to innovation

 

This article was contributed by the College of Engineering Communications office

 

 Becoming a commissioned designer for a client like The Ohio State University is an accomplishment sought out by many professional designers and engineers. One collection of undergraduate students is now adding this achievement to their resume.

 

The trio of second-year students—Tyler Bair (electrical and computer science engineering), Andrew Merz (materials science and engineering) and Phillip Merz (mechanical engineering)—recently imagined and built an innovative, interactive feature in the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) new Materials Innovation space, a central component of the Materials & Manufacturing for Sustainability discovery theme.

 

students-with-feature-wall

The winners of the student design challenge with the feature wall in the Materials Innovation space, which they used to print a temporary welcome sign, Mona Lisa, and space shuttle.

 

 

Jay Sayre, assistant vice president at Ohio State and IMR’s director of innovation, wanted two things: an interesting feature to welcome guests and a way to engage undergrads in the process. “We work very closely with the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME),” he said. “So I knew they had a lot of really bright undergraduates working for them.”

 

Sayre and his colleagues at CDME and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) encouraged those bright undergrads to form teams over the summer and pitch their ideas to IMR’s leadership.

 

The only requirements were that the design had to contain a flat-screen display, a space to hold 3D sample products and clear identification that the space was dedicated to Materials Innovation.

 

This fall, IMR, in collaboration with Paul Reeder, Executive Director, CIE, completed renovation of 2,500 square feet in the Nanotech West Laboratory on Kinnear Road. The Materials Innovation space exemplifies an operational model that allows people and ideas to “collide,” as Sayre puts it, while fostering collaboration to maximize innovation. Think few walls, lots of group work areas and energetic colors.

 

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Tyler Bair, Phillip Merz and Andrew Merz do a live demonstration of their plotter, which uses a dry erase marker to create temporary images on the feature wall in the Materials Innovation space.

 

Bair and the brothers Merz knew their design idea had to match the new space’s cool factor. Featuring a large-scale plotter attached to the wall, their design allows users to program an image to be drawn on an erasable surface in mere minutes.

 

“We wanted there to be moving parts and we wanted the display to not just be one-and-done, just there and nothing else happens,” said Phillip Merz. “The coolest displays are the interactive ones, ones that can change up. So we decided to have a part of the display that can change to whatever the user wants, make it dynamic.”

 

Their pitch was made in the form of a video that quickly caught the eye of those judging the designs.

 

Bair had the idea to incorporate a plotter into the design, wanting to mimic the work of 3D printers on a 2D wall surface. The plotter has already been used to draw the Mona Lisa, a rocket ship and, of course, a Block O.

 

The group also incorporated influences from 3D printer technology in other ways. Many 3D printer parts contain hexagonal infrastructure, which is represented in their design as hexagonal shelves to hold 3D-printed pieces.

 

Next the students want to create a smartphone app that can convert any image to a drawing on the wall.

 

Some supporters have hinted that the group should commercialize the design, with the possibility of building another plotter elsewhere on campus. But for now, the aspiring engineers will focus on their upcoming final exams.

 

Visit IMR’s You Tube channel to see the student design team’s video of their collaborative design process to develop and create the feature wall.

IMR Welcomes Tyndall Researchers to Columbus

Researchers from Ohio State and Tyndall National Institute take a break during their workshop

Researchers from Ohio State and Tyndall National Institute take a break during their workshop

The Institute for Materials Research recently welcomed several visitors from the Tyndall National Institute, a research center in the Republic of Ireland focused on electronics and photonics with a mission to support industry and academia in driving research to market.  Tyndall scientists discussed their current research programs, toured Ohio State materials research facilities, and discussed opportunities for future research and development partnerships between Ohio State researchers and their Irish counterparts through the IMR and its Materials and Manufacturing for Sustainability program.  The Tyndall group included Dr. Kieran Drain, Tyndall Chief Executive Officer, and four Tyndall researchers – Paul Hurley, Brendan O’Flynn, Emanuele Pelucchi and Aidan Quinn.

tyndall-workshop

Dr. Paul Hurley provided an overview of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme

Breakout sessions in the areas of electronics and photonics, semiconductors, advanced manufacturing, and sensors allowed Tyndall and Ohio State researchers to focus for a few hours on their specific areas of interest, share their research activities and findings, and explore possible future collaborations.  Tyndall visitors also toured five Ohio State core research facilities – Nanotech West Laboratory, the Spine Research Institute, Semiconductor Epitaxy and Analysis Laboratory, NanoSystems Laboratory, and the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis – to learn more about advanced materials research activities and capabilities taking place in our campus’s world class laboratories.

tyndall-pint-house

The group enjoyed some social time downtown in the evening

Global Partnership Grant Funds Sustainable Materials Research Collaboration

The new Global Partnership Grants program of the IMR and its M&MS Discovery Theme focus area is supporting an international research collaboration between The Ohio State University and the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay.  This inaugural Global Partnership Grant award funds the research project “Development and Characterization of Gallium Oxide Transistors,” a collaboration between Siddharth Rajan, Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering departments at Ohio State, and Saurabh Lodha, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at IIT-Bombay.  The professors and their research teams will explore the design of energy-efficient electronic devices based on a new semiconductor material, Gallium Oxide.  More information about this exciting joint research project and Global Partnership Grants is available on our website.