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A collaboration culminates in a car race

The cheering at the Expo started with the introductions and didn’t stop until the final heat was finished.

Thirty-two teams of students from Lehigh and Broughal Middle School held a design contest and a miniature car race recently on a sunny spring day outside Packard Laboratory.

The teams—118 mechanical engineering juniors and 50 eighth-graders—spent the spring semester designing and fabricating Matchbox-style cars in the Manufacturing course offered by Lehigh’s department of mechanical engineering and mechanics.

Their collaboration culminated April 26 with the 15th annual Manufacturing Expo at noon on a track set up alongside the Hittinger-Karakash Fountain.

Team Dominations, featuring Lehigh students Amanda Crowley, Eric Curtiss and Michael Curley took first place in the race. Team 31 F1 (Daniel Shea, Marek Giszter and Tim Schutter) finished second and Team GCS77 (Rachael Freedman, Michael Hyatt, Noah Ongoro and Felix Pinto) recorded the third-fastest time.

The Kids Choice Award, as voted by Broughal students, went to Team Finn’s Julie Barnett, Greg Owen and Sean Henwood. Best in Show, as voted by Lehigh students, was awarded to The Carriage Crew’s John Briscoe, Greg Cutilli, Gabriel Rosenbrien and Tyler Davenport.

Promoting sustainability and STEM learning

In the Manufacturing course, the Lehigh and Broughal students form teams of five or six, come up with designs for the racecars and then fabricate and paint them. Under the supervision of the Lehigh students, the teams use computer-aided design (CAD) and injection-molding techniques.

This year, to promote sustainability and reduce plastic waste, the teams made the cars with a biodegradable polymer.

One goal of the program is to promote the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at Broughal. As a STEM signature school, Broughal offers courses in environmental engineering, robotics and other technical fields.

Broughal is also part of a community school partnership with the Center for Developing Urban Educational Leaders in Lehigh’s College of Education, the United Way/COMPASS and Just Born Inc.

Growing alumni involvement

At the Manufacturing Expo, Bobby Gunther Walsh, a NASCAR enthusiast and a radio announcer with WAEB 790 AM, volunteered his services as emcee for the 12th year.

In a demonstration of the versatility of Lehigh engineering students, tenor John W. Rodgers ’08, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering and teaching assistant for the Manufacturing course, sang the national anthem before the race.

Broughal science teacher Lori Cirucci returned to the Expo for her 14th year. The school’s new acting principal, Leigh Rusnak ’93, ’95G, attended for the first time.

A growing number of other Lehigh alumni participated in the annual event, which is sponsored by TE Connectivity, formerly TYCO Electronics.

TE representatives at the race included Jeffrey Gesford ’81, the company’s engineering manager, and Fieldon Daubert, its customer focus engineer, as well Stephanie Edwards ’11 and Brian Erhartic ’11. Both have been in the TE Connectivity engineering rotation program since graduating and both were involved in the Expo as mechanical engineering majors in 2010.

The Manufacturing course is taught by David C. Angstadt, a professor of practice in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department, who earned a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Lehigh in 1987, 2001 and 2004.

Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Monday, May 06, 2013

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