Collaborative Senior Project to Have Lasting Impact

Published 07.06.2010

Student News
Polymer Engineering
Automated Manufacturing & Machining

From left, manufacturing engineering technology students Michael A. Love, of Manheim, and David M. Huston, of Greensburg%3B and plastics and polymer engineering technology student Justin W. Crowther, of Bear, Del., with the molds they designed and manufactured to produce injection-molded plastic ice scrapers.Pennsylvania College of Technology students recently completed a collaborative project that fused the skills of students in the plastics and polymer engineering technology and manufacturing engineering technology majors.

Three students joined their senior projects to design and manufacture injection-molded plastic ice scrapers which bear the college's initials and the mold that will produce them on the college's Nissei ES 3000 all-electric 160-ton injection molder. The scrapers are made from a nearly unbreakable polycarbonate plastic and can be produced in a variety of colors.

Justin W. Crowther, of Bear, Del., plastics and polymer engineering technology; Michael A. Love, of Manheim, manufacturing engineering technology; and David M. Huston, of Greensburg, manufacturing engineering technology, spent 254 hours on the project during the spring semester.

"As a group, we produced a working plastic part from sketch to end-use," Crowther said. "This project was run as though we were working in industry to produce ice scrapers for a customer. This gave the group experience working with deadlines and working as a team to overcome problems."

The opportunity to exercise project-management skills was important, the students said.

"It has taught critical communication skills to me that a classroom atmosphere couldn't replicate," Huston said. "Balancing my full class load, as well as finishing this project, has taught me organizational skills that I will be able to use out in the workforce."

"It taught me a lot about planning and completing a project from start to finish," Love said. "It made me more aware of time constraints and how every step needs to be planned out ahead of time so that you don't fall behind schedule. "¦ It has also benefited me by teaching patience, communication, and how to troubleshoot a problem to find the best possible solution."

The college's plastics and polymer technology program plans to continue making ice scrapers from the mold, providing both a learning tool for the injection-molding process and a promotional item.

"I hope the school will continue producing these ice scrapers in the future as a livingexample of what a cooperative group senior project iscapable of producing," Huston said.

"I think that, in the future, there should more senior projects that involve different majors, because it really helps you to learn communication skills, and you can accomplish some really interesting projects," Love said.

In addition to project management, the students also showcased their technical know-how, designing the plastic part using 3-D computer-aided design and Moldflow simulation software, using CAD/CAM software for designing and constructing the mold for production, and determining the best procedure to produce the scrapers in the injection-molding laboratory, including choosing the best material for the application and establishing the right injection-molding process parameters.

"It gave me the opportunity to teach other students about the plastics and injection-molding process and to learn more about machining operations such as grinding, electrical discharge machining, milling and lathing," Crowther said.

Crowther also had the opportunity to present the project to a meeting of the Society of Plastics Engineers Susquehanna Chapter and to talk about the project with a writer for MoldMaking Technology magazine.

"This project could not have been completed without all of the help from plastics technology and machining trade faculty members, and all of the state-of-the-art equipment," Crowther said. He also noted the support of Mold Base Industries in Harrisburg, which donated several hundred dollars in mold components for the project. "Penn College has all the design and manufacturing resources needed to take on an extensive and complicated project like this one, and I feel that the students should take advantage of these great opportunities."

To learn more about plastics and polymer engineering technology, manufacturing engineering technology, or other majors offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit online .

For general information about the college, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.