Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Expo 2005 puts a face on engineering

Krystina Perez hopes to study drama and law in six or seven years - possibly at Yale University.

Cecilia Guerrero, who loves to prepare desserts and meals from online recipes, has set her sights on the Culinary Institute of America in New York State.

Both girls, who attend Broughal Middle School in Bethlehem, had their horizons expanded April 29 at the Tyco-Lehigh University Manufacturing Expo.

For the seventh consecutive year, the Expo featured a thrilling matchbox car race, complete with cheering fans and a live emcee, on a ramp set up in front of the fountain outside Packard Laboratory.

For the seventh consecutive year, it gave seventh-grade science students from Broughal the chance to team up with Lehigh engineering students to design and build a matchbox car.

And for the seventh consecutive year, the Expo revealed a side of engineering that many of the seventh-graders had not seen before.

"I didn't realize you could use computers to design a car," said Krystina Perez. "I think it's really cool that you can move the car design around on the computer screen and digitally cut and paste things."

"I thought it was neat how they designed the molds and made the prototypes," said Cecilia Guerrero. "The wax in the molds was 200 degrees - I didn't know it would be so hot."

Eighty mechanical engineering juniors and 50 Broughal students, working in five-member teams throughout the spring semester, produced 27 matchbox cars.

The Lehigh students supervised the computer-aided design, rapid prototyping, fused deposition modeling, injection molding and machining of the cars. The Broughal students oversaw conceptual design and finishing.

The goal of the Lehigh-Broughal collaboration, which is part of the junior-level manufacturing course in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department, is twofold. Lehigh students learn to work with customers as they develop products, while Broughal students learn about engineering as a potential career choice.

Officials from Tyco Electronics of Harrisburg, Pa., which provided generous financial support for this year's Expo, attended the Expo and were impressed with what they saw.

"We didn't have any programs like this when I went to junior high school," said Alexandra Spitler, a Tyco development engineer who earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Lafayette College.

"This program [the Expo] exemplifies what the Tyco Electronics Foundation tries to do, which is to support programs in math and science that inspire younger students to get involved in those disciplines and in engineering.

"A lot of people don't know what engineering is. That's why it's important to reach out to students at a young age."

Jeremy Morales and Daniel Berrios of Broughal Middle School were members of the Good Fellas, the team that finished first for Best in Show.

"We learned how the machinery works," said Daniel. "We learned how complicated it is to make a car."

"This also taught us that, from the way a car is shaped, you know how fast it's going to go," said Jeremy.

The Lehigh students on the Good Fellas team were Daniel Norelli, Mike Sullivan and Jonathan Weiss.

The car that won for fastest time was produced by the Red Fire team, whose Lehigh members were Thomas Blank, Mark Sullivan (Mike's brother) and James Whitmore.

The seventh-graders are taught by Lori Cirucci, a science teacher at Broughal. Also in attendance was Eric Smith, the new science supervisor for the Bethlehem Area School District.

The Lehigh manufacturing course is taught by Chuck Smith, professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics. Greg Layser, Matt Tomik and Kevin Takarada were graduate teaching assistants for the class. Joseph Blair '05 and Nicholas Torres '05 were undergraduate teaching assistants for the class.

Bobby Gunther Walsh, NASCAR enthusiast and radio talk show host for WAEB AM-790, returned to announce the race and rev up the audience.

Posted on Sunday, June 05, 2005

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