Tag Archives: labs

Chemical Eng. Capstone Class: Unit Operations

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 7 March 2018

In my final semester of Chemical Engineering coursework, it truly feels like everything is starting to come together—it’s almost as if the curriculum were set up that way! The first three years of classes were largely more about theory and concepts, learning about things through lecture and small hands-on projects. However, in my senior year—and this semester, especially—the classes are much different.

One such class that is different than any prior is a class called Unit Operations, and it essentially acts as the Chemical Engineering “Capstone” course. In this class, two fellow seniors and I work in a group on 5 projects over the course of the semester. While only 5 projects may not seem like much, trust me and my classmates when I say it is!

All kidding aside, the projects are really not too bad as long as you have good group chemistry and solid time management. For lifelong procrastinators like myself, the time management part has proven a little difficult, but then again, that is kind of the point in the class: to prepare graduating seniors for the real-world.

In this class, we have one week to write a pre-lab report on the project we will be conducting. A few of the projects are running a distillation column, using a fluidized bed to dry cracked corn, and using a filter press to remove limestone from water.

As students, we are responsible for putting forth the engineering theory involved and making predictions of results as well as physically (and safely!) conducting the experiment in two 5-hour lab sessions. At the end, results are analyzed and submitted in a second, post-lab report, and the process begins again with the next project.

While this class may seem from the outside like a burden or overwhelming, I have to admit I do enjoy it. I find it very interesting to be able to apply the multitude of things gained in the classroom over the past 3.5 years to a real-life setting. Seeing theory put into practice is one of the most exciting aspects of Chemical Engineering and engineering in general—especially when those theories hold up in actual experiments!

Setting up a New ETM Lab

Jacob Motts

Jacob Motts,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 3 September 2016

This last summer I had the great pleasure of working in the Engineering Technology and Management labs under Ron Porter. It was a wonderful experience that allowed me to see the laboratories within Stocker Center, the main building of the Russ College, with a whole new level of appreciation.

Primarily, the job entailed maintenance and cleanup of the existing labs. I still remember the first project we had was blowing out and cleaning up the immense amount of sawdust that had accumulated in lab 009. This is the woodworking lab for ETM, and I was truly not prepared for how much sawdust I experienced in that first week and a half.

As the weeks went on through the summer, we also were tasked with some jobs needed to prepare the road for the new ETM capstone lab. Some of the back rooms were just a treasure of really interesting old projects and equipment. It surprised me to find some of the processes and equipment have remained relatively unchanged after so many years. Just as interesting were the discoveries so obsolete that we had trouble even figuring out what they were.

I find myself much more aware in the lab sessions of my classes. When work is finished I am so much more motivated to make sure not only my area is cleaned, but the whole lab that was being used. Largely, it was because I was able to see behind the curtain and witness the amount of work put into our wonderful university. At the end of the day, it was a very eye-opening experience that left me much more invested in my classes and Ohio University as a whole.

Aluminum Castings

Steve Toth

Steve Toth,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 4 November 2015

Ever since I took Metal Fabrication and Casting (ETM 2180) my sophomore year, I have been interested in castings. In the class, we were simply learning about the process. Now in my senior year, I’m delving deeper into the process.

One of the projects I have recently been working on is developing a casted aluminum OHIO badge using the sand casting process. My hopes behind this is to use the castings in my senior production run (capstone).


One thing that makes my development process different from traditional methods is that I have been developing and testing 3D printed patterns and runners which are traditionally machined or carved out. I started out with designing the badge using SolidWorks (a 3D drafting software). The part was then converted into a .STL file which could be read by the 3D printers owned by the ETM department.


Once the parts were printed, they were glued to the pattern board where sand could be packed around them. After the board is removed, a cavity is left for the molten aluminum to fill. As you can see, my first couple of patterns did not allow the sand to take.


After some massaging in the interior edges (larger fillets), larger draft angles and additional post print finishing I was able to create a workable pattern that was casted as seen in the picture at the top.

Now after creating a successful prototype and proving the concept, I have developed a (hopefully) ideal casting pattern that can be used in my capstone project next semester.

Geotechnical Engineering Lab

Mira Cooper

Mira Cooper,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 11 October 2015

One of my favorite things about being a junior is that I’m finally getting out of my general education classes and getting into my major-specific ones. For instance, this semester I’m taking Geotechnical Engineering, a staple for all CE students. Along with the lecture, this class comes with a lab requirement. I love lab requirements. Especially ones that let me just play with dirt for an hour!

In Soils lab, we test the various properties of different soils using the tried-and-true methods we talk about in lecture. It’s the perfect way to help remember the differences between procedures that tend to become indistinguishable after class lets out.

Geotechnical Engineering Lab

The best part about this class (other than getting to squish mud between my fingers every Wednesday afternoon) is that it’s so easy to see the applications of this work to real life. The things we do in lab are the things real geotechnical engineers do every day. The Proctor tests, the Atterberg limit calculations…It’s not like our professors are dumbing down complex concepts and giving us experiments that don’t apply to anything. They’re taking real life work and letting us have that hands-on experience that all engineers adore. It makes me feel like I’m working towards something real!