Hey, MSE graduate: what are you going to do next?

When Marcia graduated in December 2012 with a general business minor and a polymers focus to her MSE degree, she really meant it when she said, “I’m going to Disney World!”  Before applying to graduate school, Marcia decided to work at one last magical post-graduate internship.

“Magical Moments” isn’t a phrase an engineer would normally use, but in my position, this is an everyday saying. I am a member of the R&D team in the Creative Entertainment department at Walt Disney World, where we develop and refine lightweight, comfortable, durable, and colorful goods for the Costuming Team. We use a broad palette of materials, from soft foams and urethanes, to stiff epoxy-fiberglass composites, using processes including hand lay-ups, rotocasting, resin infusion, vacuum forming, and rapid prototyping.

Mickey and Marcia

Mickey and Marcia

With Lucasfilm and Marvel joining Disney, the number and variety of projects continue to increase. For new projects, we work from a design concept, then research and develop manufacturing methods as we build the prototypes. Redesigns are commissioned when a specific piece is outdated, either aesthetically or technologically. We continuously investigate new materials and techniques that promise to reduce weight, increase strength, or address a specific concern such as degradation or yellowing from UV exposure. Our team also provides materials research, testing, and expertise to other departments, including ride and show engineering and animatronics.

Many of our designs are complex in ways that aren’t immediately obvious to the casual observer. Our pieces need to meet weight, strength, and durability specifications, as well as aesthetic and comfort standards. In addition, we need to keep in mind that park guests will interact with our pieces, so the costumes need to not only look right, they also need to “feel” right. For example, a composite piece designed to look like metal also needs to feel like metal. If a guest taps on it, it needs to “ping” like metal.

I have had such a great time working here! Every day I get to work “hands on,” and the projects are each unique. I have learned a lot about different processes and materials, as well as to develop prototypes. I wish I could stay longer, but I have chosen to go back to school and will be pursuing my M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University beginning September 2013.


Dying to Make Cars

Laura graduated from OSU in May 2013.  Here, Laura tells us what she’s been doing in her first two months on the job.   While a student in Materials Science and Engineering, Laura focused her studies on polymers.

I am currently working for Honda of America Mfg, Inc. in Marysville, Ohio. Operations at the Marysville Auto Plant include stamping, plastics, welding, painting, sub-assembly and assembly.

The two current models produced are the Honda Accord and the Acura TL. I am a part of the Engineering Development Program (EDP), a 2-year rotational program throughout various departments in Honda. The goal of the EDP is to develop fundamental engineering skills through manufacturing tasks/activities/goal setting and to learn/apply root cause analysis.

Laura at Honda

Laura doing a dimensional accuracy scan on an Accord fender.

My first rotation is in Die Maintenance and consists of understanding how dies work by monitoring top cracking parts using strain analysis and dimensional accuracy tools such as coordinate measurement machines (CMM) as well as supporting die maintenance and quality. My second rotation is in Finishing/Model and consists of die design and simulation, strain analysis, and reverse engineering. My third rotation is in the Materials Lab and consists of various testing capabilities and quality control.

After my rotations are completed, my end job will be in my home department, Forming, as a Quality Engineer. The Forming Department has two parts; stamping and plastics. Stamping is a sheet metal forming manufacturing process that creates metal parts in the desired form. The plastics side of the forming department uses plastic injection molding to create the desired plastic parts.  My end job focuses on the stamping side. I will be responsible for some of the following roles; identifying issues and determining root causes, quality concerns, mature dies and parts, analyze part form-ability, forming issues, monitoring supplier material properties, and material testing.

OSU STEM Event for High School Juniors

It’s not easy for college students to get up early on a Saturday morning, but 5 OSU Materials Science and Engineering students did that today to talk to visiting high school juniors about “Materials for Everyday Use.”

Two groups of 35 students visited the MSE demos.  They divided into 4 groups, then rotated to the 4 stations of materials demos.

Click the photos for more info and fun.

Katrina plays with oobleck

Katrina plays with oobleck

1) Oobleck
MSE sophomore Katrina showed students “oobleck,” a mixture of cornstarch and water that has the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid. This means that it behaves as a liquid or a solid, depending on the kind of force that is applied to it. Punch it, and it turns to a solid. Gently touch it, and your fingers get sticky.

Materials with similar properties are being used in protective gear where there is danger of stabbing. Kevlar has been used to bulletproof the gear, but sharp objects like spikes can fit through the woven Kevlar fibers. A non-Newtonian fluid can be interspersed with the Kevlar, and stop the entry of a sharp weapon.


2) Shape Memory Alloy – Nitinol
Graduating senior Eric demonstrated the ever-popular Script Ohio made from nitinol. Nitinol is a “shape memory alloy” made of nickel and titanium.

Its “memory” properties mean that its shape can be deformed, and then brought back to its “remembered” shape with the addition of some energy (heat, electricity, etc.)  First discovered in the 1950s, the alloy was not widely used until recently when advanced technology allowed for its machining and processing.
Everyday uses: eyeglasses, orthodontics, heart stents, safety equipment

Look, Ma. No heat!

Look, Ma. No heat!

3) Solid State Welding
Few materials are useful in building and manufacturing unless they also can be joined or welded.  Junior Maryellen showed students an example of solid state welding with a hand-held wire welder.

In this example, two pieces of copper wire are welded by the machine that squeezes the wires in such close proximity to each other that the metals’ electrons bond, forming one continuous piece.

This particular machine is used to join electrical wire.  Other examples of solid state welding are explosion welding and and friction stir welding.

And that's why they get such a saggy bottom.

And that’s why they get such saggy bottoms.

4) Materials in Disposable Diapers
Ever dissect a wet diaper? Freshman Rachel and Junior Janelle demonstrated the absorption power of Pampers while discussing the various materials they’re made of. Superabsorbent polymer balls are the secret ingredient to the cotton and paper pulp diaper filler. Diapers contain elastics, waterproof layers, and adhesives all put together in a complex manufacturing process.

Other considerations for materials engineers: processing, disposal, hygiene, compatibility with babies’ skin, ease of use

So despite the early start on a Saturday, we had a lot of fun sharing everyday uses for the materials we study.

Now, it’s time for nap!

Creative Prototyping Summer School

MSE seniors Angela and Elisabeth share their adventure to Belgium to learn about creative prototyping and design techniques.

For a week this fall, we attended the Creative Prototyping Summer School at Howest University College West Flanders in Kortrijk, Belgium. We went to two workshops a day and learned about prototyping techniques like 3D printing and scanning, thermoforming, Makey Makey Arduino, welding, wood turning, laser cutting, photography, clay modeling, and high-density foam modeling. Numerous industry speakers from companies in and around Belgium came and led the workshops — Jürgen Heinl, former modeler for BMW, led the clay modeling lab; Lékué came and donated silicone products for an initial introduction to prototyping; Pilipili shared their high-density foam designing methodology; and two of the best wood turners in Belgium helped us make bowls.

It was an eye-opening experience to attend these workshops and meet students and professionals from Belgium, The Netherlands, Canada, France, Israel, Germany, and the US with backgrounds ranging from industrial design to technical communications to various engineering disciplines. In the evenings we biked around the city, ate tasty Belgian snacks (they have ham flavored Lays and amazing orange-chocolate cookies!), hung out, and continued working on projects.

More information about Howest can be found here: http://www.howest.be/summerschool2012/

NOVA’s “Making Stuff”

Getting pumped for this series, starting this week.

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