Logan Aluminum, an integrated aluminum rolling mill in Russellville, Kentucky partnered with Western Kentucky University engineering students in a project to design a system to test the structural integrity of cores used for holding their product. An outcome of project success would be a functioning test machine able to evaluate core strength and thereby allow a systematic assessment to avoid costly core failures.
The student team worked with company engineers to establish system specifications and success criteria for designing a test machine capable of handling two core sizes, and developed a project management plan that allowed them to propose a final design. In the Fall 2015 semester, the design phase was finished with an in-depth description of reasoning for major decisions. Design documentation included detailed model drawings, component specifications sheets, calculations, and vendor information. The proposed design was approved at the end of that semester by the local company and a $20,000 budget was provided to students by the industry sponsor to build the system. During the following Spring 2016 semester students worked on acquiring the components, building the device, programming, and testing. The goals of the project were accomplished by the end of the Spring semester.
The device built was very favorably received by the industry partner and they have used it in the production line to test aluminum cores. This capstone project experience proved that engineering students are able to design and build devices which can be very useful for industry partners. Both the industry and the university benefited from the project. Western Kentucky University’s partnership with the local company allowed many students like this team to gain real-world experience through the projects. With most of the senior engineering students entering the workforce in less than a year, the challenges and professional expectations of this project have helped prepare students for what is expected in a professional work environment.
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