On a chilly April Wednesday, members of the WVU Tech Society of Automotive Engineers Baja Buggy team packed up the racing buggy they’ve spent months building from scratch and set off for Cookeville, Tennessee for the first of three spring semester competitions.
Starting on Thursday, April 14, the group will spend four days putting that buggy to the test in everything from braking, suspension and maneuverability events to hill climbs and a four-hour endurance race. They’ll also have to justify their design choices in a business-style presentation.
After months of fundraising, design and construction, the team will be showing off their most ambitious build yet. For Dr. Winnie Fu, engineering technology professor and advisor to the group, this year’s built is the most advanced she’s seen in her years overseeing the project at WVU Tech.
“This vehicle has the most engineering it’s ever seen, and so the team hopes to bring home their best finish ever. Because of that, they have been working around the clock on weekends and many evenings. It is even difficult for me, as the advisor, to comprehend the amount of work and dedication that has gone into this year’s build,” she said.
For this year’s buggy, weight was a primary challenge. Since each buggy is required to run on the same 10-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, weight becomes a primary barrier to higher performance. A decrease in weight means the engine has less to move. As senior mechanical engineering major Corey Hall puts it, “the less weight we have in the buggy, the more power we can put to the ground.”
Hall said that the top competitors often weight in between 300 and 350 pounds. Last year, the Tech buggy sat at 400 pounds. The year before, it weighed a full 550 pounds. This year, however, the team has worked diligently to simplify the buggy and bring that number down.
Team member Vicente Porcar said he thinks they may have built the lightest buggy in school history.
“I can tell you it can be lifted from the ground by just two people. We made big efforts in fundraising that allowed us to buy better and lighter parts. In the design stage, we kept the buggy as small and light as possible. Even the tabs used for the mounting of body panels have been analyzed and reduced in size and weight to meet our goal,” he said.
The team also focused on increasing maneuverability and stability. They narrowed the frame, shortened the wheelbase and extended suspension components for an overall wider, more stable build.
Team members also built many of the buggy’s components from scratch, including student-designed and built custom front and rear suspensions, custom shocks and a custom one-speed transmission. Team even members learned how to cast aluminum to build their own lightweight parts, dressed the buggy with advanced composite bodywork and outfitted the vehicle with two-way communications and a data acquisition system.
“This year we’ve made more parts than ever before,” said Hall. “We’re making revisions and optimizations to our design from last year. There’s been a big push to build things that in previous years we would have just bought.”
The group is confident in the buggy they’ve put together. At this stage, they’ve put the vehicle through rigorous testing (check out a video of the buggy in action) and they’re anxious to see what it can do in Tennessee.
“The team is extremely excited to be running three competitions this year. They feel that this vehicle will be a contender in all events this year. The team has spent countless our on this vehicle, and is ready to show what they are capable of,” said the organization’s president and team leader, Jason Browning.
Browning said that the team’s advances were enabled in large part by the project’s sponsors. One of the buggy project’s major hurdles is cost, and the team spends time working with sponsors to use professional equipment, secure construction materials, employ machining services and secure funding for parts and travel.
“All of our sponsors are extremely important to us and we couldn’t do what we do without each one of them,” said Browning. “The biggest benefit to sponsors is the opportunity to directly invest in future Southern West Virginia engineers. Their sponsorship permits students to gain engineering knowledge and learn the hands-on skills that Tech is so famous for. Over time, they will see these benefits pay dividends when they hire Tech students to work for them. It is an investment in Tech students and West Virginia.”
After Tennessee, the group will compete in California in mid-May and New York in June.
“We are excited and anxious about Tennessee since it is the first competition and the first time we get to test our buggy against others buggies,” said Porcar. “After Tennessee, we come back, retune for California and shoot for the top places again, but this time with a better idea of what needs to improve. After California, we should have our best version of the buggy to run in Rochester.”
For the group’s seniors, this year’s competition series marks the culmination of years of working on the project. It was also a valuable chance for students like Browning to pass on their knowledge and experience to those who will take the reins in the coming years.
“It has been very exciting watching the team grow and become stronger over these last four years,” said Browning. “It’s unbelievable what we have been able to accomplish. My first year there were four of us with a shoestring budget. Now we are 17 strong with the potential to be a top contender. This goes to show that with lots of hard work and dedication to something that anything is possible.”
This year’s buggy sponsors are Toyota, March Westin, the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences at WVU Tech, the WVU Tech Student Government Association, Constellium, Brickstreet Insurance, NGK Spark Plaugs, American Electric Power, the Crossroads Mall, James Giuliani, Global Procurement, Aircon Engineering, West Virginia Manufacturing Solutions, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, Snap-on, Jarvis Hardware, P3, QA1 and Tilton Engineering.
Kelly Hudgins, director of WVU Tech’s Student Success Center, was among four WVU advisors honored with the Nicholas Evans Excellence in Advising Award.
Hudgins has been with WVU Tech for three years. At the SSC, she oversees academic advising for all incoming first-year and transfer students, new student registration events, new student orientation, peer tutoring and academic intervention. Her work has been instrumental in the success of the center, which sees more than 10,000 visits each year.
For Hudgins, that success stems from her department’s focus on ensuring students have access to the resources and opportunities best suited to them on a personal level.
“Good advising meets students exactly where they are when they step on campus and takes the time to examine their academic backgrounds and career goals. Most importantly, good advising seeks out the person behind the student and supports his or her needs in and out of the classroom,” she said.
In addition to recognizing Hudgins’ service to the students of WVU Tech, the award comes with $1,250 in funds for professional development projects.
Hudgins and her fellow awardees were recognized at a dinner event in Morgantown on Wednesday, April 6. Read more about Hudgins and the award in this story from WVU Today.
WVU Tech’s faculty members are dedicated to the advancement of the fields they teach. Outside of the classroom, they’re researchers, writers, presenters, go-to experts and road warriors who share their passion for learning with the world.
Here’s what our faculty members have been up to:
Dr. Richard Squire (Chemistry) presented at the Sanibel Symposium sponsored by the University of Florida in February. At the symposium, which drew in attendees from 26 countries, Dr. Squire presented his research, “Proof that the Photosynthetic Synthetic Complexes B850 and B875 are Coherent.” On March 30, Dr. Squire presented his lecture “Does Photochemistry from the Past Provide a Link to the Photosynthetic B850 / B875 Complexes?” during a seminar at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Dr. Yadi Eslami (Electrical Engineering) and Dr. Asad Davari (Computer Engineering), in collaboration with Dr. Kourosh Sedghi from California State University (CSUN), had their research paper, “A Real Time HIL Testbed for Distributed Energy Generation Penetration Analysis,” accepted in the IEEE Energy Conference 2016. Dr. Eslami or Dr. Sedghi will present the paper at the conference in Belgium this month.
Dr. Rachel Bragg (English) presented her research, “Creating Tattoos and Re-creating Invention: Stasis Theory as Collaborative and Social Invention,” at the College English Association National Conference in Denver, Colorado March 31 April 2.
Dr. Houbing Song (Electrical and Computer Engineering) collaborated on and published eight peer-reviewed journal papers in IEEE Transactions on Services Computing, IEEE Internet of Things Journal, IET Communications, IEEE Access, Sensors (MDPI), Journal of Network and Computer Applications, Journal of Medical Systems (Springer), and Annals of Telecommunications.
Dr. Cortney Barko (English) attended the College English Association annual conference in Denver, Colorado on March 31. At the conference, she presented her paper, “Creating a more vibrant history for West Virginia’s Women Writers.”
Dr. Mark Wilson (Economics) presented his paper, “Bretton Woods and the World Monetary Order,” at the April meeting of the Virginia Association of Economists at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.
WVU Tech Community,
Last night, there were shootings off campus in the city of Montgomery. Based upon investigative reports, there was no threat to the University campus. Local police agencies are investigating, and as a precaution, University Police increased police staffing and patrols on campus throughout the night and will do so at least throughout the weekend.
While these incidents didn’t involve the campus community, this incident serves as a reminder of the importance of using good judgement and being observant of safety and security issues in our daily lives.
If you observe something unusual or suspicious or are concerned for your or others’ safety, you can use the LiveSafe App to alert University Police. For more information and to download the app to your mobile phone, visit our LiveSafe webpage.
WVU Tech also sends out text alerts to warn those who are subscribed to the service about emergency situations on and around campus. If you are currently not receiving WVU Tech text alerts, please sign up for the service today.
As always, members of the University community are encouraged to report suspicious behavior to University Police by calling 304-442-3101 or 911.
For more safety resources, visit the University Police webpage.
Spring Break is often a chance for college students to visit home and catch up with friends and family. This year, a group of seven Golden Bears wanted to make sure others had a place to call home, so they teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam to help with one of the organization’s projects in Charleston.
The group spent two days working at Habitat’s ReStore location. The ReStore sells donated furniture, appliances and building materials at discounted prices, and proceeds from the store help to fund local Habitat projects. At the ReStore, the group helped to clean and organize portions of the store and prepare donated items for sale.
Volunteers also spent their time working at one of the organization’s construction sites in Charleston. Students worked with Habitat volunteers to provide landscaping around one of the houses and ensure proper yard drainage. The group also worked to lay down mulch and straw.
Student volunteers included Igor Pereira, Brenda Rivera, Ana Flavia Monteiro, Vinicius Kawamukai Rios, Scotty Stone, Patrick Gnagbo and Mark Magallanes.
“Spring Break is an important time for all students, either to rest from school or to go visit their families,” said Pereira, a junior chemical engineering major from São Paulo, Brazil.
“Habitat for Humanity is a pretty awesome project made by people who care about others. I chose to be a volunteer because we are all part of the same community and I feel that I can help a lot of people, even if I don’t know them. I feel really good knowing that with this kind of job I’m being a part of a change in someone’s life,” he said.
WVU Tech resident director Michael Sheldon organized the volunteer trips and said he was impressed with the students who participated.
“I think it is great that the students spend time here during their Spring Break to help with the community. They are learning important skills and also about the Habitat for Humanity program, such as the process one goes through to get a house,” he said. “I can’t give them enough credit. They have worked incredibly hard this week and deserve as much thanks as they can get.”
For more information on Habitat for Humanity or the ReStore, visit the Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha and Putnam website.
WVU Tech was among a dozen schools featured in Newsweek’s “The Best of ABET’s Accredited Programs 2016” list in early March.
The Newsweek piece was created in partnership with ABET. The article includes a description of ABET’s process and the importance of individual program accreditation. WVU Tech maintains nine ABET-accredited programs in engineering, engineering technology and computer science.
Read more about ABET and the best ABET-accredited schools in America below, and be sure to check out the full article at Newsweek.
From Newsweek Educational Insight, March 3, 2016:
ABET is the global accreditor of nearly 3,600 technical programs at over 700 colleges and universities in 29 countries. The work that we do influences programs all over the world. From Lima to Manila and Miami to Honolulu, the quality we guarantee inspires confidence in the programs we accredit.
Our accreditation is proof that a program has met standards essential to produce graduates ready to enter the critical fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. Graduates from an ABET-accredited program have a solid educational foundation and are capable of leading the way in innovation, emerging technologies, and in anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.
Our focus is strictly on the education students receive. The global standards that we set and the review process that we employ are rigorous, yet flexible. Our program evaluators look at outcomeswhat students are actually learning from courses rather than what they are being taughtbecause those are the real indicators that a graduate has the professional and technical skills that employers demand. Sought worldwide, ABET’s voluntary peer-review process is highly respected because it adds real value to academic programs in disciplines where quality, precision, and safety are of the utmost importance.
This process is the culmination of a practice of ongoing self-assessment and continuous improvement, which assures confidence that ABET-accredited programs are meeting the needs of their students, preparing graduates to enter their careers, and responsive to the needs of the professions and the world.
We accredit college and university programs, not degrees, departments, colleges, institutions, or individuals. This allows us to be single-minded in our commitment to determine that a program fully prepares a student to enter the workforce.
We accomplish this through the work of our Expertsprofessionals from industry, academia, and government. They are recruited and assigned by leading professional and technical societies, such as IEEE, ASME and ASCE. Virtually every team includes executives from companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar, DuPont, GM, IBM, Raytheon, and UPS.
Responsive to increasing globalization, we work to ensure that the graduates of ABET-accredited programs can employ their talents internationally. We do this by signing agreements with educational quality assurance organizations in other countries and jurisdictions. Not only does this allow ABET-accredited program graduates to use their skills around the world, but it also raises their value to employers. The U.S. Government, for example, and many multinational corporations seek employees with degrees from ABET-accredited programs that translate globally.
When ABET’s quality standards are applied and promoted around the globe, the results are a better-educated, geographically mobile, diverse technical workforce well prepared to advance innovation and excel professionally in fields of critical importance to society.
Students and their families choose schools for many different reasons, but one thing they all seek is a solid quality education. ABET accreditation allows families to be confident that their students are attending a program that will give them the knowledge and skills to continue their education or enter the workforce.
West Virginia University Institute of Technology (Montgomery, WV)
Pennsylvania College of Technology (Williamsport, PA)
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (Wise, VA)
Loyola Marymount University Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering (Los Angeles, CA)
Texas A&M University-Kingsville (Kingsville, TX)
University of Colorado Denver, College of Engineering and Applied Science (Denver, CO)
The Citadel (Charleston, SC)
University of New Haven (West Haven, CT)
Grove City College (Grove City, PA)
University of Louisiana at Lafayette College of Engineering (Lafayette, LA)
The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Engineering (San Antonio, TX)
University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
West Virginia University Institute of Technology is pleased to announce the 2016 Alumni of the Year: David F. Meadows, ‘74, from the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences and Deborah Hill, ‘86 and ‘87, from the College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Meadows, of Culloden, West Virginia, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tech in 1974. He also hold a Master of Science degree in Engineering from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies and a Master of Engineering degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Meadows is the Chief Technical Officer and Southwest Regional Manager for Triad Engineering, Inc. In this capacity, he is responsible for the technical expertise, quality and risk management of Triad’s services as well as day-to-day operations of the region. He is a member of the WVU Tech Civil Engineering Advisory Board.
Hill, of Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, is a graduate of Tech with both an associate’s degree in Nursing in 1986 and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration in 1987. She also hold a Master of Science degree in Health Care Management from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies.
As an experienced healthcare professional, Hill has 28 years of health care management experience and is currently the Director of Long Term Care for Montgomery General Hospital. She serves on several state and community boards, including the WVU Tech Health Service Program Advisory Board.
Since 1949, it has been a tradition for WVU Tech to honor graduates from each college by selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni of the Year Award. To be selected for this honor, alumni must have achieved recognition in their chosen profession, have a strong commitment to service and have given their time, talent and treasure to Tech by serving as a role model of loyalty and service for all alumni.
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, Meadow and Hill will be recognized as the newest members of this distinguished group at the Alumni of the Year Awards Dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Charleston. To purchase tickets to the dinner, go online to alumni.wvutech.edu or call the Office of Alumni Relations at 304.442.3131.
On Tuesday, March 15, WVU Tech Career Services will welcome nearly 50 employers from a wide range of industries for the University’s annual JobFest event.
JobFest kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. in the Tech Center Ballroom and the fireplace lounge. The event will bring in 47 employers from a wide range of fields, including healthcare, business, engineering, manufacturing, military, government, insurance and retail. (View the entire list of employers and the majors they’re seeking.)
Employers will be seeking candidates for full-time and part-time positions, as well as internships, co-ops and seasonal summer employment.
“This is a very big event with employers from throughout the region,” said Candice Stadler, director of WVU Tech Career Services. “There will be something for every major. If you’re getting ready to graduate or if you’re looking for experience while you’re in school, this is a fantastic opportunity to connect with these recruiters.”
Stadler said students attending the event should prepare as though they’re attending an in-person job interview. Students should dress appropriately in business or business casual attire (no jeans, flips flops, sneakers, sweats or athletic gear) and come prepared with copies of their updated resume. Students who choose not to print their resumes should upload their resume files to services like Dropbox or Google Drive so they can share them electronically with recruiters.
At JobFest, students will receive a map showing where employers are located. Graduating students who are looking to maximize their exposure to regional employers should plan for an hour to an hour and a half to work their way through the event. Students should also be prepared to talk about themselves and what they want to pursue after graduation.
“If you’ve worked on an elevator speech, this is a good time to practice that,” said Stadler. “Students need to be comfortable talking about themselves with employers about their career goals and what they’re learning in their major.”
A number of employers will be conducting on-campus interviews. CDI Corporation, West Virginia Power, the West Virginia Army National Guard, Columbia Pipeline Group, Kennametal Inc., RDX and USDA-FSIS will conduct interviews following JobFest from 2:30-5:00 p.m. Siemens Industry, Inc. will visit campus on Wednesday, March 16, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. to conduct interviews. Stadler suggested that students should arrive early to secure a spot in the interview schedule.
Stadler said the event is also important for students not currently on the job hunt.
“JobFest presents opportunities for students who are not actively seeking full-time employment. It’s a good idea to prepare for next year. If you’re going to be looking for internships or full-time work, you’ll get practice and a sampling of the types of regional opportunities you can go after. You’ll also become familiar with the companies that come out, what they do, who they are, what kinds of questions they ask and what kinds of qualifications they’re looking for in a candidate,” she said.
For seniors, Stadler said JobFest is a great way to jumpstart the job hunt.
“If you’re getting ready to graduate and you haven’t started the process, now is a great time. It can take a company somewhere between 40-60 days on average from job posting to hire, so starting earlier is better. Nothing beats a face-to-face with recruiters to get you motivated and excited about the career opportunities that are open to you, so don’t miss this chance to do just that,” she said.
Students who want help polishing up their resume should explore the resume-building resources on the career services webpage. They can also use the resume wizard in the new Golden Bear TRAK online career management system. The wizard asks students a series of questions to help them populate a professional resume.
Golden Bear TRAK was recently launched in cooperation with WVU and is connected to the University’s MountaineerTRAK system. The portal offers access to thousands of job postings and pulls resources from top national job search engines like Internships.com and Indeed.com.
This week, five members of WVU Tech’s first-ever Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero Design team will travel from Montgomery to Forth Worth, Texas, to compete in SAE Aero Design East, March 11-13.
The competition challenges engineering students to design, construct and fly a remote-controlled, fixed-wing cargo plane.
The project marks another major entry for WVU Tech SAE, which is known for its work in the Society’s Baja buggy competitions. Dr. Winnie Fu, WVU Tech professor of Engineering Technology and advisor to the student chapter of SAE, said that putting together an aero design team was the next logical step for the organization.
“I’ve been looking to start an SAE Aero Design team for a while,” she said. “It is a competition that is almost purely design at heart. It provides all the benefits: engineering learning, team building and camaraderie without being costly or equipment-intensive. Team sizes also tend to be smaller, which fits in nicely with our student population.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Aero Design competition. In Texas, WVU Tech’s team dubbed “Golden Wings” will be facing off against 75 teams from around the world.
LS Wang, team leader and senior mechanical engineering student, said he hopes it will mark the first in a long line of successful seasons for Tech’s new team.
“It’s an international event, so it’s going to be very exciting. We’re a little nervous, but we’re confident. It’s our first time going out. We’re excited to see what we can do,” he said.
The team has been working on their #19 plane since last August. The design phase ran from then until the end of January. Now the team is wrapping up the build phase and testing their design before they make the 16-hour trip to Forth Worth on Wednesday.
The competition is divided into three components: the design portion, an oral presentation and a flight competition. In the latter, the plane is loaded with cargo and must take off from a 200-foot runway, complete a midair turn and successfully land.
The #19 plane is no handheld toy. It boasts a wingspan of eight feet and from tip to tail, the plane is over four feet long. It’s made of materials like balsa wood, pine and spruce each material chosen for its specific properties in relation to where it would be included in the plane.
The team has quite a bit of room to design, but is required by competition rules to use a power limiter on the plane’s motor. This part prevents the motor from drawing more than 1000 watts from the battery and serves to even the playing field for each team. With standardized power limits, teams must focus on elements such as weight and flight design to make their projects stand out.
“We had to factor in the weights and structural properties of the different kinds of wood. The whole thing will weigh around 12.5 pounds with no payload, including electronics. We’re hoping it will be able to realistically move a payload of around 25-30 pounds, depending on weather and wind,” said Wang.
Wang said he’s excited to put #19 to the test because it represents the culmination of an educational journey for the entire team.
He and his teammates were able to rely on help from professors and friends from varying disciplines throughout the state. The team partnered with BridgeValley Community and Technical College to use the college’s laser-cutting machine in South Charleston. They consulted with mechanical engineering professors at Tech and at WVU in Morgantown. The group bought books on flight design, bounced ideas off of aerospace engineering students and even worked with civil engineering professors to learn about structural integrity.
“We didn’t know much about aerospace going into this, so we had to learn a lot of material. We have a lot of resources. We were fortunate enough to have that help through the manufacturing process and to have someone to let us know what kinds of problems we would be facing,” he said.
For Wang, the project has been a powerful way to connect what the team is learning in their coursework with real-world applications.
“We know how to calculate stress. We know how to make something lighter or thinner or more efficient on paper, but many times we don’t get to put those designs to the test. We learn about stuff in 100 percent perfect conditions, but in real life, we’re learning that it might not be the case. You can’t have perfect conditions, so we have to compensate and compromise to make our designs work” he said.
In all, the team has spent around $2,500 for registration, parts and material. The project is supported by SAE’s general sponsors and WVU Tech mechanical engineering alumnus Cory Igo, ‘13, is covering the team’s hotel expenditures to offset costs.
For Fu, the team’s work and upcoming competition is a sign that the student chapter of SAE is flourishing.
“I believe it shows that students, the university and our sponsors are recognizing the value of what students learn through participating in the SAE organization,” she said.
Wang agrees, and said that the team’s experience is already paying off.
“Being a member of SAE lets students work on real-world problems so they can prepare for the workforce. There are manufacturers and engineers that are looking for people like us. They need people like us because we can set up and start getting to work on the first day,” he said.
Find out more about SAE Aero Design East and get competition results on the SAE International website.
February 21-27 is National Engineers Week, and WVU Tech is celebrating by sharing the stories of students who are preparing to launch their careers and alumni who are doing great things in theirs.
Check out this story for more: WVU Tech students and faculty showcase STEM fields, celebrate National Engineers Week