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Students Create a Prototype for Local Manufacturer
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Imagine being tasked with the project of producing a prototype of a new and lighter version of a portable pack that converts alternating current electricity to direct current electricity.
And, you’re a high school junior.
That’s exactly what happened when the engineers from ESPEY Manufacturing and Electronics Corporation had a need to get their prototype produced in time to present it to their customer, the U.S. Army, during the contract design review. The portable pack is something that would be used on a vehicle’s engine to covert from 120-volt power to 28V that could be used for anything the soldier can think of.
“We had a true need,” explained Patrick Enright, president and chief executive officer of ESPEY. “We could have outsourced it, but we wanted to give the students a real-world, hands-on opportunity. The sooner we can get kids engaged, the better.”
Enright along with Adam Archard, the mechanical engineer at ESPEY who designed the prototype, attended a presentation by the three high school juniors who took on this industry challenge. The students are enrolled in Electrical Technology/Advanced Manufacturing, one of three programs offered through the SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy: An Early College High School Program.
The students who worked on the project are: Tim VanDusen and Jonathan Luse from Saratoga Springs High School, and Zack Scheid from Queensbury High School.
During the presentation, the students described the process they used to produce the prototype and shared the challenges they encountered. The trio first had to determine how to divide the 14-inch by 12-inch product design into 5-inch-by 5-inch by 5-inch pieces that would fit into their 3-D printer. Using a 3-D printer consumes a lot of time and material. One piece could take 24 hours to print. The students reported there were a few power outages while they were printing resulting in an unfinished piece. However, due to that hurdle, the students learned how to finish printing the remainder of the piece instead of starting all over. The team also shared that their first try resulted in a miniature prototype.
“These obstacles happen all the time in industry, “ Enright shared. “How you recover from them is what’s important. You’ve shown teamwork and have done a great job. Hats off to you!”
The ESPEY CEO said that not all customers can envision products in the same way. Therefore, they have found having a 3-D model helps customers visualize the finished product.
Archard told the students that it could be year-long process if done on paper.
The students produced the prototype in five weeks.
Enright also talked about how the connection between engineering and production needs to be smooth and at a world-record pace or it could cost the company thousands of dollars.
ESPEY is a business partner with the Early College Career Academy, a joint venture with WSWHE BOCES and SUNY Adirondack that offers high school students an opportunity to earn college credits.
Students enrolled in the SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy are eligible to earn between 28 and 32 college credits, tuition-free, while earning marketable industry credentials and participating in an internship experience. Beginning next year there will be three two-year programs for juniors to choose from. They are:
Located in Saratoga Springs, ESPEY is a Power Electronics Design and Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) company with a long history of developing and delivering highly reliable products for use in military and severe environment applications.
Learn more about Electrical Technology/Advanced Manufacturing program by clicking here.