Tag Archives: engineering classes

Project in Sustainable Construction

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 March 2015

When we got back from spring break, my Sustainable Construction class got assigned a project that is going to extend until the end of the semester. Our problem statement is to work with Ohio University to see what it would take to get various buildings around campus to a LEED Silver standard. LEED is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is one of the leading green building standards used throughout the country and parts of the world.

The group I am working with has been assigned Siegfred Hall, it is currently used as the Arts building. During this past week we have been taking multiple tours of the building to understand different parts of the energy use, transportation, environmental, and a few other components. Our group is tasked to see what it would take to in order to obtain the LEED Silver Certification.

LEED takes into account six major aspects:

  • location and transportation
  • sustainable sites
  • water efficiency
  • energy and atmosphere
  • materials and resources
  • indoor environmental quality

These six categories have different numbers of points that you can achieve and total up to 110 points for the highest certification of Platinum. For our project we have to reach a minimum of a Silver certification which is between 50 to 59 points. Our professor is challenging us not to just stop there at silver but to really see what it would take to get an even higher certification of Gold or Platinum.

Our professor also surprised us with the fact that once our projects are complete our report with be shared with the university along with a presentation to the sustainability department. They will be able to use our project as a starting point when it is time for a major renovation.

Working as Part of a Team

Erin Tracy

Erin Tracy,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 24 February 2015

As a senior engineering student, I am no stranger to working in a team environment. There are few things I do in a normal day that do not involve other people in some way. From being a member of the marching band and leader of a Bible study to working with my Senior Design group to giving high school students tours as an ambassador, other people are always involved.

Engineering students are taught right off the bat freshman year that the discipline requires learning to work well with a team. The first project I can remember my freshman year was in ME 101 where we were randomly assigned teammates to complete a design problem. I recall having moments of frustration as well as gratitude with members of my group, and I learned the necessity of patience and perseverance. If something went wrong (and things definitely went wrong), we had to work together to figure out a solution. These group projects continued every year in classes such as Controls, Machine Design, Computer Aided Design (CAD), and especially Senior Design.

I’ve grown a lot in my ability to function as a team member and to be a leader within the team. Although working with other people to accomplish a goal is hard work and can be frustrating at times, it is an essential skill to master for life as an engineer after graduation. The experience I’ve gained during my time here at Ohio University will serve me well not only in my career, but in life as well.

Learning about Alternative Energy

Erin Tracy

Erin Tracy,
Senior, Mechanical Engineering

Athens, OH 23 January 2015

There will always be a huge need for energy around the world, which is why many companies are working to find alternative energy sources to meet the increasing demands. Coal and natural gas are most commonly used in the United States and will most likely continue to be for the near future. But these types of finite resources are dwindling, and for this reason there is an ever-growing need for renewables.

I have been studying renewable energy on and off for the past four years of college, starting with my ME 101 research paper on photovoltaic cells freshman year. I enjoyed learning about this topic then, and continue to expand on it now in my senior year with my Senior Design project and energy management technical elective class.

My Senior Design team has been working all year on a system to bring electricity to two schools in Cambodia to power laptops and a printer for teachers to write up lesson plans and worksheets for their students, using solar energy. Our hope is that the teachers in these schools will be able to provide a better educational experience for the students by the use of our system. We are thrilled to use our skills as mechanical engineers to develop a system that will bring technology to students who have never seen such.

The courses I’ve taken and projects I’ve been involved with during my time at OU have definitely heightened my interest in the field of renewable energy. I’m sure I’ll find the energy management class I’m taking this semester to be interesting. I hope to learn more about the current energy demands and how alternative methods such as solar and wind power could be utilized in the future.

Electronics and Microcontrollers

Steve Toth

Steve Toth,
Junior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 9 November 2014

No… I am not an electrical engineer. But being an Engineering Technology and Management student, I receive a good taste of electronics and programming. In the final project for my electronics and microcontrollers class, we are creating a robot that is completely autonomous. The robot will drive forward until it reaches an obstacle which is sensed by an ultrasonic sensor. At this point the robot will reverse and the ultrasonic sensor will turn left and right, using a servo, sensing for more obstructions and determine which direction to turn and continue forward.

Mini Electric Car

This project is based on an Arduino microcontroller which is a platform programmable in the C computer language. It can accept digital and analog input signals from components such as switches and sensors and then process this data to command outputs for components such as motors, servos and lights. All of this is powered by a pack of 4 AA batteries fed through a voltage regulator providing a constant 5V to feed the Arduino.

Although you could probably tell from my past blogs I am more of a mechanical than an electrical person, but I’ve really been enjoying this class and especially this project as I have been learning a lot about how many of the devices in our everyday life work that you don’t really think about.

Applying Lean Methods on Campus

Ross Lowry

Ross Lowry,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 4 November 2014

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is ETM 4320 which is Lean Enterprise Methods, its main focus being Lean Engineering. For those of you who may not be sure what Lean Engineering is, it is essentially the practice of eliminating as much waste from a production process as possible. The lecture portion of this class is already complete; however, the remainder of the semester is going to be spent working on our group project.

We are assigned to choose any business in the Athens area and implement the Lean methods that we learned in class to the business, granted that we have the business’s approval. Our group chose The Front Room coffee shop in Baker Center; other groups chose Whit’s and a local body shop.

Some of the things we may try and change include anything from the layout of their equipment, how many employees they have per shift, what role each employee is going to take, and the line used to take the customers’ orders.

Work on the project is going to begin right away as there is a lot of data we must collect on the Front Room. One of the first things we are going to study is the process to make a cup of coffee. This may seem like a very simple task, but there are a lot of components that go into making one cup of coffee. We consider the beginning of the process right when the customer places the order; the process then concludes as soon as the cup is in the customer’s hand. We will be taking a look at all of the steps in between to determine where we can cut down on time to get the product to you quicker.

Hopefully by the end of this semester we will be able to work out all of the kinks in the operations so that the customer’s experience is improved. We should even be able to save them some money, which could mean lower prices for us?!?!?

Water Treatment Field Trip

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 30 October 2014

Throughout the semester in my water and waste water management class, we have been in the process of designing a water treatment plant. During class we have learned all types of treatment processes and how to remove contaminants to provide quality drinking water to the public. We learned how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the water quality standards and from the standards civil engineers are free to design the water treatment plant however they would like as long as they meet the standards.

There comes a time when learning theory in class does not teach you everything you need to know about water treatment. During our own design project, there were multiple times when we were doing calculations to determine tank size we questioned ourselves if our numbers made sense. Most of the time we were unable not comprehend how massive water treatment plants are.

As a part of the class and a teaching tool our professor organized a field trip to a water treatment plant in Lancaster, Ohio and a waste water treatment plant in Columbus, Ohio. Being able to see these plants in person helped us understand on how massive these plants are actually and help us realize that our calculations of our own design are acceptable.

Pictures provided show both the water treatment plant and waste water treatment plant.

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Field Trip

Rethinking Hydraulics Lab

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2014 – This semester, my hydraulics lab has changed my thoughts about labs. Earlier lab classes that I have taken follow the same format: the professor writes the pre-lab and then we follow the steps without fully needing to understand what is going on.

This semester, our professor has changed the format of the lab so that we are able to design and conduct experiments. Each lab takes two weeks. The first week we are first introduced to the equipment and are able to ask the professor questions how this equipment works and what it is used to find. Then we take a week to research and write a pre-lab, which is is traded with another student who had written a pre-lab for a different experiment. Then in week two we conduct an experiment that was written by another student.

At first I did not like this new process, but after the first two weeks and getting a better clarification from our professor, this has to be one of my favorite labs. I like how we are able to create the lab by telling someone what readings to take and what those readings mean by going through a data analysis. It feels really cool to be the person telling someone what to do during an experiment for once.

This class is helpful because it is giving me a better understand of the equipment I am using by having to figure things out on my own. It is nice to have a piece of equipment and think to yourself “If I turn this knob, what effect it will have on the system?” It is neat being able to figure that out for myself instead of having a professor tell me.