Category Archives: Mechanical Engineering

Car Trouble

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 28 November 2016

If you were to ask me where I would like to work on when I graduate, I would be able to quickly respond with something along the lines of, I would like to work for a company that manufactures vehicles. It doesn’t necessarily matter what type of vehicle that is, however there is one type of vehicle that I have more experience with than others, cars. My interest in cars started from a young age and has grown exponentially since.

As Thanksgiving break was fast approaching, I was finishing up some homework before my last class of the day Monday when I got a message from a roommate and immediately knew something was not right. He had been planning on leaving town an hour or two earlier so when I heard his car wasn’t starting, I had only a short amount of time before class to figure it out.

In my previous post, I touched on the fact that the most rewarding thing I find myself doing is helping other people, but now I get to combine both that reward and my passion for cars to help a friend out. Unfortunately, it was not a simple diagnosis that was going to be getting him on the road that evening and fortunate for him, he was able to find another ride home that day to start his break. After a few hours of troubleshooting, the problem could be pinned down to a faulty connector where a wire had been pulled out just enough to no longer make a good connection.

It still amazes me that the car didn’t die while driving, but it was an easy fix once diagnosed. Though it may not have gone as planned that day, I was able to combine two of my passions and help him get back on the road once we had returned from break.

ME Senior Design: Path Sweeper

Jane Oberhauser

Jane Oberhauser,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 21 November 2016

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how I was excited for my capstone design project. Our team is designing a bike path sweeper to be pulled behind a bicycle and sweep the dry leaves and small debris into a hopper for dumping in designated areas.

It’s a very interesting project that brings in a lot of different mechanical concepts to balance. The obvious ones were directly addressed in the beginning of the project, such as pulling behind instead of in front for safety reasons and our required and desired performance specifications from our project partner.

The first stage of the design process was our conceptual design development stage. This is where we’re just trying to imagine as many possibilities for the design as possible. Next, is the conceptual design decision stage, where we use many different methods and continued research to decide upon an idea. After this stage, we meet with our mentor and professor to present our decision.

Our team ran into some difficulties in this, because around that time, we took a prototype which was given to us (a grass sweeper for a lawn) out for a ride hitched to a bike, and realized that after a certain speed, the sweeper became very unstable and swung back and forth. This drove a whole new arrangement of our design and set us back for a couple of weeks.

With an intimidating mentor and a craving for perfection and approval, this was pretty challenging psychologically. However, I feel like this design process has taught me a lot about how to think through difficult problems from various aspects and not be satisfied with the aspects I immediately think of. I hope I can apply this in life’s other problems as well.

Travel Opportunities

Emily Morello

Emily Morello,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 13 November 2016

One passion that I have always had is traveling. Ever since I was little, my family has always loved going on vacations to interesting places. My family is from Warren which is a smaller city located in northeast Ohio. There really is not much to do in this area, so any chance we get, we like to go places.

My mom’s side of the family is from Quintana, Spain. Some of my Spanish family lives in Ft. Lauderdale so we go there quite a bit to vacation. I always loved listening to their stories about living in Spain; it made me want to visit the country very badly.

One summer, however, my mom decided to switch up our usual Ft. Lauderdale visit. She is a Spanish teacher at the high school I used to attend and she organized a school trip to Europe for all of the students. When she told our family this news, we were extremely excited.

During this trip, we traveled to Spain and Italy, specifically Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Capri, and Pompeii. I was fifteen at the time and will never forget the amazing experience I had that summer.

Now that I am twenty-one and in college, all I want to do is go back to Europe to travel more. I recently applied for a study abroad program to visit Greece in May. It is called the Global Consulting Program, which even includes an internship opportunity. I am supposed to find out if I was selected for the program sometime before Thanksgiving break. Hopefully it works out!

Globalization and the Developing World

Jane Oberhauser

Jane Oberhauser,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 9 November 2016

This semester, I am taking a non-engineering class called “Globalization and the Developing World”. (GEOG 1310) The class was recommended to me by a friend because of the passionate and knowledgeable professor and interesting content.

It’s a class taught by the geography department, and it’s similar to a human geography class I took my sophomore year. As the name suggests, this class looks at the effects of globalization on the developing parts of the world. This is especially interesting to me as an engineer who would love to “Create for Good” somewhere in a developing part of the world.

This class has been interesting and challenging. It’s not challenging in the way that my conceptually difficult classes are, but it forces my eyes open to the incredibly awful things that happen in the world. We had a section on child labor, where we learned that children are often paid incredibly small amounts for working day in and day out in unhealthy working positions and conditions.

We are currently learning about the unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This poses an interesting moral conflict, where all of electronics that we are using and designing as engineers contain a mineral that almost solely comes from this area. The mineral is fought for and genocidal wars are waged because of it. This all goes back to globalization when we realize that everything here is so interconnected. How can I currently be typing on a computer that is full of this mineral that caused so many unfair deaths? How should I feel about this? It makes me feel sick, but what am I to do?

These things, and many more injustices in the world, make my soul crave for justice to come. When or how that will happen isn’t in my hands, but I do want to do whatever I can to help. In my everyday life, I can buy products that are certified fairly traded. In my engineering future, what if I could design an inexpensive rug weaving loom that allowed children to sit in ways that don’t deform their growing bodies? Those are just small examples, but I’m thankful for this class opening up my eyes.

Museum of Discovery

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 30 October 2016

As the first semester of my junior year is more than halfway complete, there have been a number of changes in my life that have granted me more a little more time outside of classes. To fill that time, I have been focusing on improving some of my skill set such as time management, and have had the opportunity get more involved around the community as well.

One event that I was able to recently partake in took place at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery where students from the Russ College brought in their projects and engaged young minds. This event was a very cool way to engage children of all ages from the surrounding community in science, technology, engineering, aviation, and math (STEAM) fields.

As a leader of the Human Powered Vehicle team, I was there with our most recent vehicle where we were able to talk about the process of creating such a vehicle and even have some of the kids ride it around.

Museum of Discovery

There were a number of other groups and stations for the kids to stop at including The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) where the kids were able to play with drone and flight simulators, an egg drop where kids built a device to stop an egg from breaking after a fall, and a maglev track where they were supposed to secure a rider from falling off a vehicle when it came to an abrupt halt utilizing only rubber bands.

Events like this are very gratifying for me as helping others is personally one of the most rewarding things I do and I hope to be able to continue and do more in the future.

Robot Building Project

Lucas Bond

Lucas Bond,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 23 October 2016

I am currently taking a class for my major called mechatronics (ME 4550). The class focuses on the combination of electronics, programming, and mechanical devices.

We were tasked to create a mechatronic device for an individual project that has all of these features and has some practical application. For my project I decided I wanted to build robot! I love star wars and so my mind quickly thought of BB-8. At first I thought it would be too complicated or hard for the project, but I went for it anyway.

I ordered all my parts a couple weeks ago and began construction as they came in the mail. I used a 10” hamster ball for the round shell and a 2-wheeled robot for the drive system. A servo is mounted to the bottom of the robot that will shift a weight back and forth leaning the sphere as the wheels drive forward or backward simultaneously. To make a weight heavy enough and the right size, I melted down a bunch of lead fishing sinkers and attached that to some K’NEX then glued that to the servo arm. I broke the first servo but I’ll get another one.

The bot will be controlled through an Arduino UNO microcontroller mounted to the center robot. The only physical simplification I made was to leave out the BB-8 head.

Mechatronic BB8

This project so far has been a ton of fun! I love building things and being hands on, so the construction phase has been a blast. It feels like something I could be doing just as a fun hobby project, yet this is for a class required for my major. I guess that means I chose the right program for myself.

I can’t wait to get the programming loaded up and see the little guy moving around. After graduation I think I will continue the project and possibly add remote control and some feedback control through motion sensors.

Training for a Half Marathon

Emily Morello

Emily Morello,
Junior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 6 October 2016

This past summer, I started becoming more interested in running. I used to love running when I was younger. I ran the 4×400 m dash and the 400 m dash for track in middle school and high school. I also started running cross country in high school. Unfortunately, my running days came to an end due to very tight muscles in my knees. I had to go to physical therapy for a month in order to try healing them. The therapy did not seem to work, so I quit running for a year or so and my knees felt a lot better.

Last year, I decided to start running again since my knee pain was gone. It was a slow start and very hard to finish even a mile or two. This past summer, however, I had an internship at JPMorgan Chase in Columbus. A few of my friends from high school live there, so I was glad I got to hang out with them a lot. I decided to join a local gym with one of my friends so we could have something to do together after work. She not only worked out, but also ran a lot. She has actually finished a few half marathons in Columbus, which at the moment, I thought was crazy.

My friend, Marissa, motivated me to start running more. I stretch every day now, so the knee pain has not returned, thankfully. After I could run four miles pretty easily, I started asking her about the half marathon. She told me that I could find routines online that fit with my running level and how often I wanted to run, and there was one coming up in Columbus on October 16th 2016.

It took me a little while before I actually committed to the half marathon. I started my training in the middle of July, running three days a week: one easy run, one pace run, and one long run. Now, I am two weeks away from my first half marathon and feel very confident in my training. I finished ten miles last Friday and will continue to run for the next two weeks to work on speed. My goal is to finish in less than two hours. Training for this half marathon during school has been a pretty big commitment, but I am very excited that it will finally happen soon so I can feel accomplished.