CJ PLTW Students Engineer Solutions

Ten students presented their Engineering Design and Development (EDD) capstone projects last week as one of the final requirements of the final course offered through CJ's nationally certified Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering program.

The fourth-year course prepares students in areas of engineering research and design and allows them to apply what they’ve learned through previous PLTW coursework. Their task for the year was to find solutions to real-world problems while working in small teams. Classmates leveraged the Dayton region's strong STEM sectors by seeking advice from local professionals and businesses in the field.

EDD instructors Steve Wendel and Andy Helms emphasized the importance of the engineering design process and the students’ ability to coherently present their ideas to others. Wendel, an engineering professor and affiliate director of PLTW Ohio, split time between Sinclair and CJ to help teach the class this year.

Sitting in to hear presentations in the CJ STEMM Center were local professionals and members of the school's administration and STEMM Advisory Board. Many in the audience came away impressed by the students’ effort and ingenuity.

“This class is a solid base for preparing students for engineering school,” said guest Juan Carbonell, branch chief at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“The students seem to be following a good engineering approach to problem solving, and I was very impressed with the analysis of alternatives used for all three projects.”

The first group, Team 4G, completed a project called GPS Locator and Casing. Group members Ryan Noble, Matthew Boudinot, Gary LaBianco and James Turner designed a protective case for a GPS system to be used to locate emergency personnel in case of disaster.

Ryan took charge of researching shock-, heat- and moisture-resistant materials. The group originally planned for the GPS unit to be placed in a shoe, but trial and error led them to designing a case that could be attached to a belt, the most universal and durable option for the intended consumer, Noble said.

The second group focused on an environmental issue specifically affecting the CJ community. Peter Barclay, Cannon Hill and Benjamin Osterday set out to improve recycling procedures within the building. They wanted to expand receptacles to include both paper and plastic material.

Originally, the recycling bins stationed in each classroom were designed for recycling only paper. However, in their research the students found that CJ could earn around $1,200 just by recycling plastics more efficiently. Through their efforts, they were able to design a new bin that supported recycling of both paper and plastic. The group plans to speak to school administration about introducing the bins in classrooms.

The third group's project, known as the Electric Energy Producing Piston (EEPP), was inspired by the hybrid energy vehicle. Seniors Matt Dudon, Kyle Shoup and Kris Heidenreich attempted to improve upon existing ideas by using electromagnetic energy produced by the combustion engine.

Their decision to pursue the topic (which doubled as a Capstone project for Matt and Kyle) was influenced by two learning experiences their junior year. All three gained basic engineering knowledge through the PLTW Digital Electronics course. Additionally, the students developed an interest for environmental and global warming concerns after studying morality and social justice in religion class.

Kris focused his efforts on the principles of electromagnetism. The group learned that adding magnets to the piston and lining the cylinder head with a copper coil within the combustion engine could produce energy for the hybrid vehicle. Through research, design, and consultation with professionals and mentors from OSU, WPAFB, Sinclair, Honda, and BWI Group, the seniors successfully demonstrated energy production using a piston from a week-whacker engine.

Reflecting on the conclusion of their group projects, Noble and Heidenreich both acknowledged the benefit of having gained engineering experience prior to college.

“All four years I have enjoyed myself and have continued learning new things that will assist me in the future,” Heidenreich said. “Many of these projects are similar to the situations we'll find in the engineering field and the manufacturing industry.”

Noble, a junior, added that given the wide view of engineering over four years, he will have an easier time making the right choice on what to study in college.

In addition to their individual group projects, the EDD class as a whole worked on a collaborative project as well after receiving a grant from a local inventor.

New for next year, CJ will offer a Civil Engineering and Architecture class to go along with Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering and EDD