techdirections October 2013 : Page 21
Revamped Program Teaches Real-World Manufacturing Skills By Barry Van Name H AVE you ever wondered what it would be like to STAND
TALLf;)TPROBABLY would not be very high up on your “to do” list— at least not until you had the chance to visit the advanced manufacturing technology classroom at Hudson Val-ley (NY) Community College (HVCC). Here, amazingly detailed scale mod-els beﬁtting a foot-tall person have been created by students, including 1:6 scale radio-controlled Abrams battle tanks, Stuart Twin Victoria air engines, and Stuart Twin Cylinder Score air engines with magnetic bear-ings. These are labeled “Capstone” projects by HVCC’s David Larkin and display the CAD/CAM knowledge and CNC manufacturing skills gained by Barry Van Name is an editorial as-sociate at Lynn Gorman Communica-tions LLC who specializes in manufac-turing and technical education topics. the students during the two-year pro-gram at HVCC, effectively “capping off” their education. Updating a Manufacturing Program When Larkin, a professor of ad-vanced manufacturing technology, arrived at HVCC in 1991 to take over the senior programming course, stu-dents were making a variety of parts that did not relate to each other. Larkin knew that in the real world of manufacturing, they would make parts that would come together in complete assemblies. Larkin had himself received asso-ciate degrees in electrical technology David Larkin teaches some of the finer points in HVCC’s Mastercam lab. www.techdirections.com CAD/CAM/CNC 21
Revamped Program Teaches Real-World Manufacturing Skills
Barry Van Name
<br /> HAVE you ever wondered what it would be like to stand 12" tall? It probably would not be very high up on your “to do” list— at least not until you had the chance to visit the advanced manufacturing technology classroom at Hudson Valley (NY) Community College (HVCC). Here, amazingly detailed scale models befitting a foot-tall person have been created by students, including 1:6 scale radio-controlled Abrams battle tanks, Stuart Twin Victoria air engines, and Stuart Twin Cylinder Score air engines with magnetic bearings.<br /> <br /> These are labeled “Capstone” projects by HVCC’s David Larkin and display the CAD/CAM knowledge and CNC manufacturing skills gained by the students during the two-year program at HVCC, effectively “capping off” their education.<br /> <br /> Updating a Manufacturing Program<br /> When Larkin, a professor of advanced manufacturing technology, arrived at HVCC in 1991 to take over the senior programming course, students were making a variety of parts that did not relate to each other. Larkin knew that in the real world of manufacturing, they would make parts that would come together in complete assemblies.<br /> <br /> Larkin had himself received associate degrees in electrical technology and mechanical technology at HVCC, before going on to Clarkson University for a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering and to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for a master’s in manufacturing management. He then served an apprenticeship program and worked as a toolmaker at the U.S. Army’s Watervliet (NY) Arsenal, America’s oldest continuously operating arsenal. Having been responsible for the manufacture of precision components at Watervliet, Larkin knew what would be demanded of his students after graduation.<br /> <br /> “Because the students were making single, unrelated parts,” says Larkin, “they were not being challenged by the need for problem solving or critical thinking. It requires a look at the whole picture, whether an assembly or subassembly, to understand the need for design accuracy, machining productivity, and manufacturing quality when it comes to each interrelated part.”<br /> <br /> By 1993, Larkin had revamped the senior program into the capstone program, having students concentrate on teamwork to design and build intricate models. “Building something that actually works when completed is a big incentive to the student,” he says. “It’s not just a collection of clever parts designed to look good on a desk or shelf. The air-powered engines and battle tank are good examples of what will keep the student excited all the way to the end of the school year. The battle tank had more than 6,000 parts and weighed 450 pounds. Four of them were completed and are on display at various sites around the U.S.”<br /> <br /> Program Details<br /> During the first and second semesters, students concentrate on learning how to interpret engineering drawings and get their feet wet in basic CAD. By the third semester, they are learning Mastercam CAD/CAM software, produced by CNC Software, Inc., as well as manual programming for the nine Haas CNC lathes and machining centers in their lab facility. This is when they begin machining their Capstone project parts. The Mastercam lab has 40 CAD/CAM stations, loaded with userfriendly X6 software that provides the students with enhanced milling and turning capabilities.<br /> <br /> “All the parts for the air engines are made by the students from raw stock to finished component,” says Larkin. “The materials range from brass and aluminum to cast iron and steel. They include ported cylinders, flywheels, arms, gaskets, and covers.<br /> <br /> “They have produced various models of Stuart Twin Victoria engines and recently redesigned a Stuart Score housing with a twin cylinder component machined from a cast iron block. They designed it in Mastercam, and hobbyists from around the world have asked for the details. Before this redesign, it had been so difficult to make that devotees of the engine had been having trouble with its manufacture for more than 30 years.”<br /> <br /> This year, the Capstone project consists of a Stuart Half Beam air engine running a Haas belt-driven manual lathe. Every component, other than fasteners, is designed in Mastercam and machined on the Haas mills and lathes. All told, there are more than 500 parts needed to complete each engine-and-lathe project.<br /> <br /> The senior class has 37 students putting their efforts into completing 18 working models. The engines are the products of daytime students and the lathes are manufactured by students who attend class at night. It is very important that every component works seamlessly with every other component to assure perfectly running models, every time. Completing all the units takes 14,000 student hours.<br /> <br /> The Stuart Half Beam engine operates using Watt’s parallel motion. Air is fed into the cylinder of the engine, pushing the piston and beam, upwards and spinning the wheel half a turn. As the wheel spins the second half-turn, the beam is pushed down, driving down the piston. Gearing, contained within a wine-gobletshaped housing, transmits power to the lathe via a belt. A tightening unit maintains the rpm of the lathe’s spindle. The scale model engines and lathes of the Capstone project perform well and are excellently detailed.<br /> <br /> “I give them miserable prints to start with,” says Larkin, “and there’s a good reason for that. I want to make them think. I want them to talk to each other and come up with their own tolerances that will make each other’s parts fit together. They must put each part into a CAD program and make a CAD drawing of it. Then, they download the CAD drawing into Mastercam. They must also design and build their own fixtures to hold the parts on the machine tools and program the Haas lathes and mills to machine the parts. Sometimes, the tolerances must be held to 0.001" and there is very little room for error.<br /> <br /> “I realize that they are learning and do make mistakes, so they are told to make about 20% parts overage to compensate for this. By the time they are through, they will have become proficient in CAD, CAM, manual machining, CNC machining, and metallurgy skills.”<br /> <br /> The students must also write data packages as part of their project. Larkin maintains a spreadsheet for each student and assigns points for each step. There are so many points earned for each part, fixture, data package, quality control sheet, and so on. At the end of the year, point leaders receive cash awards.<br /> <br /> Nearly three dozen corporate sponsors from the region, including Allendale Machining Systems, General Electric, and Sandvik Coromant supply the students with scholarships, part-time positions, and full-time employment. Completed Capstone unit air engines are painted in the corporate colors of the sponsoring companies and presented to them at each year’s Capstone Awards ceremony. The lathes are painted machine tool gray and bear the Haas logo.<br /> <br /> All of this year’s graduating seniors have been employed and those receiving scholarships have maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average. Also, about 35% of the freshman class has been offered employment. Using a sports analogy, Larkin says, “Coming in at the end of the draft, you don’t get the best players. You come in early to get the cream of the crop. Corporations begin looking at the students and offering employment in their freshman year, when talents are being exposed.”<br /> <br /> Barry Van Name is an editorial associate at Lynn Gorman Communications LLC who specializes in manufacturing and technical education topics.