CORVALLIS - Whether they're aware of it or not, Oregon industry has at its disposal a group of talented engineering student designers with mechanical engineering expertise who can deliver excellent results on many design projects.
For the modest price of materials, expenses and basic research costs, businesses can tap into the energy of students doing their senior projects in mechanical engineering at Oregon State University. All it takes is a description of the problem and by next fall a team of students may be hard at work on it.
In recent years the industries who have taken advantage of this program ranged from some of the biggest in the Pacific Northwest - Hewlett Packard, Tektronix and Boeing - to an area hospital.
"Our mechanical engineering students and similar programs in other engineering fields have completed many projects of benefit to Oregon businesses and residents," said Gordon Reistad, professor and head of the OSU Department of Mechanical Engineering.
"Many times the students work in groups in collaboration with our faculty on specific research projects or on direct industrial applications with industry sponsors," Reistad said. "Accomplished projects have ranged from tourniquet design and testing to the design of consumer products such as ink-jet pens to basic material processing in steel and specialty metals."
All projects must have a significant engineering design component. OSU faculty supervise the projects and about 25 are completed each year, Reistad said.
In one recent effort, students created a mechanical device to aid in the pulling of hospital patient files for Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, to help employees reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Popular projects also have included the design, building, testing and competing with a Formula SAE race car, with which the students from OSU finished seventh out of 96 entries nationwide this year.
For Boeing, students designed a facility for on-board exercise to reduce fatigue and discomfort from long flights. And the Oregon wine industry benefitted from student efforts to improve installation of grape trellises and address other problems of grape harvesting and processing.
Companies interested in more information about this program and the guidelines for participating in it should contact the OSU Department of Mechanical Engineering at 541-737-3441, Project proposals must be finalized by mid-September