Toy-like plastic parts that are traditionally used in engineering classes may be a great way to get students started. But Mark Newby believes that educators across America should also provide their students with hands-on experience with components that are similar to those used in the lab or industry. So he co-founded MA-based Gears Educational Systems, a supplier of scaled parts and design kits to high school and college classes.
"Our competitive advantage is design," says Newby, now the director of operations at Gears. "As more manufacturing is going overseas, we hope Gears' products will stimulate students and make them consider engineering as a career."
The company not only provides hardware, but also CAD software for class projects. The GEARS-IDS (http://rbi.imsca/4387-535) kit, for example, includes a free trial copy of SolidWorks' 3D mechanical design software in addition to heavy-duty aluminum structured components, pneumatics, sprockets, chain, gears, precision-machined wheels and drive components, tires, battery, charger, electronics and controls, as well as the Pittman 9000 gearhead motors from Penn Engineering.
Since the end of 2002, Gears has purchased close to 900 units from Penn Engineering, says Marketing and Sales Manager John Wolfe. His company has customized most Pittman motors for the educational purposes—despite the order quantity—Wolfe adds. The latest offerings from Gears and Penn Engineering include specific part links. Students and educators can click on any Pittman motor listed on the Gears' website to more easily learn about the product specifications, Wolfe says.
Real Challenge: The tractor system
is one of the designs by students at Dunwoody College of Technology in
Minneapolis using the GEARS-IDS kit, which includes real components and
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.