Senior projects have lasting impact

  Friday, March 20, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Senior projects have lasting impact

Two senior projects by Pittsburg State engineering technology students have turned out to be more than just a demonstration of what the students have learned in class. They will have a lasting practical effect in two different programs.

Updating a 40-year-old design

A group of six students created a mold for a hacksaw handle, improving upon and replacing the mold that has been used by Pitt State students for more than 40 years.

“Since the late 1960s, students in the entry-level Manufacturing Methods course have been making hacksaw handles as part of an introduction into metal casting,” said University Professor Russ Rosmait. “It’s a tradition we’ve had in the College of Technology for decades. You take the class, you make a hacksaw.”

The old mold for the handle had its flaws, though. So seniors Tyler Casteel, Nick Crain, Brendan Herrera, Jeremy McLennan, Aaron Noack and Kyle Ragan decided to make a better one.

“The old mold had a lot of issues,” Herrera said. “It had defects. It was inefficient. It left a lot of scraps. For every 10 castings, there would be three good ones and seven bad ones.”

The old mold also lacked any type of Pitt State branding.

“We wanted to make sure the new mold had the words ‘Pitt State’ on them, so everyone would know where these were made,” Ragan said.

The students also updated the way the handles are made.

“Before, everything was done through manual labor,” Herrera said. “We automated the process, which makes it quicker, cleaner and more reliable.”

Rosmait said he was happy to see the students take on the project.

“The hacksaw handle is a legacy here that began way before I came to Pitt State,” he said. “One of the freshmen this year said his dad remembers making the handle when he was a student. To have these seniors create a new, better mold that will help continue this tradition is a neat thing. I thought they did a wonderful job.”

Testing physical limits

The Exercise Science program at Pitt State conducts a variety of treadmill-based tests on students that are designed to push students to their physical limits.

“We have a couple of tests that in which students are supposed to push themselves to the point of fatigue,” said Assistant Professor Michael Carper. “The problem with that is we all know what can happen if you get too tired to move your legs while on a treadmill.”

Enter the engineering technology students, who designed and built a harness students can wear while taking the treadmill tests.

“In simple terms, the harness will catch the students when they can no longer run on the treadmill,” said senior Zachary Hunt, one of five students on the project.

Hunt was joined on the project by Tyler Ford, Fred Glabach, David Redick and Kirk Smith. The harness and its structure are designed to hold up to 500 pounds. The students believe it will actually hold quite a bit more.

“We’re saying 500 pounds to be safe, but it’s built very well,” Smith said. “It will probably hold a lot more than 500.”

The students said they enjoyed the challenge posed by the exercise science program.

“When they came to us with this need, we knew it would be a difficult task,” Hunt said. “At the same time, though, we also knew this could have a great impact on the university and students for many years to come. That’s a cool feeling to know something you built will be used here for a long time.”

Rosmait said the students proved worthy of the task.

“I am really pleased with the work they put in on this,” he said. “It’s good to see students be able to take a challenge like this and turn it into a piece of equipment that works and works well. I’m proud of them.”



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