Bearing it all

Marc will be a senior MSE student at OSU this year.  Here’s what he has to say about his summer internship.

I’ve been spending this summer interning with The Timken Company in North Canton, Ohio. Timken is a global bearing and specialty steel business which began in 1899 with Henry Timken’s invention of the tapered roller bearing. Today, Timken grosses over $5 billion annually.

Marc at his Timken internship

Marc at his Timken internship

I work in the TEC Center on the Non-Destructive Evaluation team, using LabVIEW to analyze the validity of case depth measurements of bearing parts. Most of Timken’s products are case hardened in order to extend the parts’ working lives and increase their resistance to wear. A high frequency transducer is used to measure the case depth without compromising the integrity of the part. A plot is then produced from the gathered data, presenting details about the hardened part’s microstructure.

The project began with basic brainstorming of validity requirements and progressed to programming, debugging, and comprehensive studies of plant databases. I’ve completed other smaller projects throughout the summer as well, including a comparative study of two material characterization instruments and a budget for the TEC Center’s Summer Celebration.

Work has been only one aspect of my summer, though. Most of the interns, including myself, live together in a residence hall at Walsh University. Our social activities included an intern volleyball league, rafting in West Virginia, attending an Indians game, several lunches (many of which were longer than the allotted hour), and more. We’ve decorated the conference room board, learned some Chinese, and established a “Word of the Day.”

Overall, we have been able to make a positive and meaningful impact with our summer projects. Not only did I gain technical skills and real world experience, but also several new friends.


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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/

MSE Honda Internship and Winner

Summer internship report from Kelvin, MSE 3rd-year.

I spent the past few months interning at Honda R&D Americas Inc. in Marysville, Ohio, and my experience was great. Honda produces primarily automobiles, motorcycles, and ATVs. The work I do involves the quality of paints applied to the vehicles.

Dr. Nitin Padture and Kelvin

I learned the many meticulous tests that go into choosing paint (base, coat, and primer) from suppliers for current and future vehicles. Before a paint combination can be put into mass production, it must meet all durability and quality requirements set by Honda. Selected paints must be able to withstand the daily abuse of a car such as acid rain and pelting of small rocks. I also aided associates with projects outside of my main research area when possible. This involved going to factories to run tests, preparing test samples, or shipping items to suppliers. Some of the most interesting things I did involved taking measurements in essentially a car oven/freezer at -30°C and 80°C.

I stayed at an off-campus apartment at Ohio State this summer, which gave me a 45-minute drive to work. I could arrive anytime from 6:00-10:00 AM, so the long window of clock-in time definitely helped for the mornings I hit snooze for an hour or two past my expected departure time. I had a few hours of time to myself after work so I decided to take up softball with our department team. I am not necessarily a baseball fan but softball was enjoyable. Most of my co-workers were under 30 years old and this made it extremely easy for me to get along with them.

This summer internship has provided me with valuable work experience that will be useful as I continue at OSU and after graduation. It gave me a taste of what the real world will be like after college. I would encourage all to take an internship if they have the chance. It will pay off greatly in the future.

NOTE: Kelvin was on the winning team for the Materials category in the Honda iDream student competition this summer.  He is pictured here with his faculty and project advisor Prof. Nitin Padture.


Spring Break, Grad Student Style

If you would have asked me a year ago what my plans for spring break were I would have given you the location of a great beach, warm weather, and no textbooks in sight.  However, after successfully finishing two quarters of PhD core classes, my definitions of fun are significantly warped.  I had two very different parts to my spring break; I spent the majority of the week working on my creep tests, and a small portion traveling visiting my undergrad institution.

The big highlight of SB09 was going to visit my alma mater.  It felt wonderful to go back down to southwestern Ohio and pretend to be an undergrad, go out with my sorority sisters, and visit my old professors.  Driving into town felt so familiar and comfortable, and walking into the engineering building felt coming home.  My boyfriend even remarked about the differences between my two-year-old undergrad engineering building and the 1950’s engineering building where I now spend all of my time.  It was amazing to sit on High Street in the sunshine and eat my favorite bagel, and to continuously run into people I had spent years of my life getting to know.

But, as much as I loved returning to the place I called my home for four years, I was too much of a grad student to fully enjoy it.  I used to be able to enjoy being with my sisters and friends, not dwelling on my advanced mechanics homework or upcoming machine and tool design project.  Instead, I couldn’t mute the voice in the back of my head reminding me of all the things I needed to accomplish when I returned to Columbus.  Watching my sorority sisters interact made me realize that as much as I hated it, I had moved on from undergrad and become one of those harried looking, sleep deprived grad students.

So here I sit, reflecting on what the rest of my spring break was like.  Instead of wondering what time I was going to meet my friends and sorority sisters at our favorite bar, I spent my spring break enjoying an empty building.  While this might seem boring, it is amazing how much more efficiently you work in a deserted academic building.  I finally appreciate that sleeping in now means rolling into the office at 9:30 am, and a good week means not having to drink as much coffee.  Unfortunately, growing up is inevitable.  But I’m working on translating my definition of fun, and enjoying the small perks of being an engineering PhD student.


We Move In Packs

One of the most different parts of being a graduate student is the idea of having an actual group; in undergrad I had my capstone project research group, and the set of people I did homework with every week, but we were always ships passing in the night as the semesters changed. We had our own traditions and space (a group of us adopted the first floor conference room for daily homework problem debates), but we were all interested in very different things, and ended up in very different career paths.
In grad school you have a dedicated group of people who share the same advisor, space, and general research interests. A major tip I was given as a senior applying to Ph.D. programs was to choose an advisor and group I felt comfortable with. The idea was to find your niche within a larger program, so that when you needed something (from choosing classes to learning a new polishing trick), you could turn to the guy/girl sitting next to you and ask with reasonable results.
Coming from a smaller (I graduated with about forty other mechanical engineers), very tightly knit undergraduate program, I knew I was going to need something more than just office mates. As I searched for my perfect program several things became immediately obvious to me. One of these was how well all of the professors and students got along, not only with each other but also within the groups in smaller settings. I visited and interviewed with several big universities during the summer and Fall of my senior year, and had incredibly different opportunities at each one.
When I visited Ohio State a few months later during a dreary February weekend, I entered Watts Hall and found a great program. I met many of the students I would be working with (and decided I’d love to carve myself place in their circle), I found a professor I respected and knew I’d love working with for the next few years of my life, and decided I was going to be a Buckeye.
So here I sit, five months later. I have five officemates, and there are several more group members who occupy the next few rooms down in our corner of Fontana Labs. They are definitely a unique set of engineers, each from a different undergraduate background, and several from very different parts of the world than Buckeye country. They’ve all adopted me, and have made a space for me within the group. Each one of them is more than happy to answer my seemingly unending lines of questioning. And once every few hours, we make our way down to the third floor for coffee and tea, always in a pack.

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