Lehigh University
Lehigh University


2009 Tyco/Lehigh Manufacturing Expo: A win-win situation

Winning the award for Best Overall Design at Expo 2009 was Team Infernooooo, with Lehigh team members (from left to right) Peter Bridi, Franklin Johnson and Daniel Juchniewicz in background and Broughal students Ryan Correa (left) and Angel Ochoa in foreground.

The 2009 Tyco/Lehigh Manufacturing Expo was celebrated in boisterous fashion last week when students from Lehigh and Broughal Middle School raced miniature cars that they had spent the semester designing, fabricating and painting.

Not one minute into the first elimination round, Expo master of ceremonies Bobby Gunther Walsh pronounced this year’s crowd the noisiest he’d witnessed in the event’s 11 years.

“I’ve never seen an audience this pumped up,” Walsh said as 100 students and onlookers cheered for their cars with hoots, waves and high-fives.

Walsh, who races his own car at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville and hosts a radio talk-show with the Lehigh Valley’s WAEB-AM, was one of many mainstays returning to this year’s Expo. Others included Lori Cirucci, a science teacher at Broughal; David Angstadt and Charles Smith, professors in Lehigh’s department of mechanical engineering and mechanics; and Herman Baader, an engineering technician in the department.

The Expo, which is sponsored by Tyco Electronics Corp. of Berwyn, Pa., culminates a semester of collaboration by eighth-grade science students at Broughal and mechanical engineering majors in the department’s junior-level manufacturing class.

A total of 137 students—81 from Lehigh and 56 from Broughal—took part in this year’s Expo. Forming 28 teams, they designed Matchbox-style cars using CAD (computer-aided design) software. They created plastic prototypes and then fabricated the cars using numerically controlled milling and plastic injection-molding machines in the mechanical engineering department.

The purpose of the collaboration, which began in 1999, is to help the engineering students appreciate the intricacies of manufacturing and working with clients while exposing the younger students to the world of engineering. The Broughal students, as clients, draw conceptual sketches for the cars, paint the finished products and design posters. The Lehigh students, under the supervision of faculty and teaching assistants, handle the computer-aided design, milling and injection-molding.

Inspired by the Expo

One onlooker at this year’s Expo was a veteran of the 2004 event. John Folk ’12, a mechanical engineering major, took part in the Expo as an eighth-grader in Cirucci’s science class and is now completing his freshman year at Lehigh. Folk said his interest in engineering was inspired by his involvement in the Expo.

“Looking back,” said Folk, “I think the Expo had a tremendous effect on my decision to become a mechanical engineer. As an eighth-grader, I wasn’t sure what it was engineers actually did. But I became interested in the design and manufacturing processes that I observed. I remember watching the Lehigh students use the CAD program and wanting to try it myself.”

Jason Putt '09, a teaching assistant in the manufacturing class, watches the Philly Phanatic and three other miniature cars go down the track at the Tyco/Lehigh Manufacturing Expo 2009.

This year’s race was won by Team Win, whose members were Jeff Diebold, John Pepino and Jordan Smith of Lehigh, and Kiara Lebron and Emmanuela Belony of Broughal.

Lebron and Belony said their participation in the Expo had reinforced their desire to go to college.

“The computer-aided design program was really advanced,” said Belony, who has not yet decided what she wants to study in college. “We were blown away by all the details and angles that it shows.”

“This project was really great,” said Lebron, who hopes to become a medical doctor or a marine biologist. “We got to see the whole process of making one of these cars.”

Finishing second to Team Win, by a nose, was Southside’s Finest, whose Lehigh members were Chris Andreola, Jeffrey Piccolo and Michael Rapp.

Team Infernooooo took the award for Best Overall Design, a category chosen by the Lehigh students. The team’s Lehigh members were Peter Bridi, Franklin Johnson and Dan Juchniewicz.

Sharpied Skittles won for Best in Show, a category in which the Broughal students vote. The Lehigh members of Sharpied Skittles were Walter Jokiel, Kevin Ford and Joe Biser.

The race was held April 24 on a four-lane race track next to the Hittinger-Karakash Fountain outside Packard Laboratory. Cars competed in groups of four with the two fastest vehicles advancing after the best of three heats. Between trials, Lehigh students frequently used super glue and masking tape to re-attach broken or wobbly wheels.

“They’re taping the wheels in the pit, ladies and gentlemen,” Walsh boomed at one point. “That’s not a good sign. Now the pit crews are having an argument. These are tightly guarded aerodynamic secrets, folks, believe me.”

The idea for the Manufacturing Expo was conceived in part by John Coulter, associate dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, who attended this year’s event.

Also in attendance was Nathan Smith, the son of Jennifer Smith, the administrative secretary in the mechanical engineering department. Smith, who will be attending Lehigh-Carbon Community College in the fall, was given a certificate for serving the past five years as the Expo’s “official starter.”

Angstadt, who received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Lehigh in 1987 and his Ph.D. in the subject in 2004, said an estimated 1,225 students from Lehigh and Broughal have taken part in the Expo since its inception.

--Kurt Pfitzer

Photos by Devin Tyman '09

Posted on Friday, May 01, 2009

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