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ASU's Polytechnic campus students take top prize in manufacturing engineering competition

March 22, 2002

A team of six ASU's Polytechnic campus students has won the Society of Manufacturing Engineers version of an academy award -- the Grand Prize at the WESTEC Manufacturing Challenge in Los Angeles.

The ASU's Polytechnic campus manufacturing engineering technology students won the honor with their prototype of a manufacturing workstation designed to test air bag deployment systems.

WESTEC's prestigious annual competition challenges engineering technology and engineering students from regional colleges and universities to design and build innovative devices or products with potential for manufacture.

Evaluation criteria include quality, creativity, teamwork, manufacturing practices and safety considerations.

According to team member James Johnson, the ASU's Polytechnic campus students successfully demonstrated for the WESTEC judging panel that their prototype detects even the smallest of leaks in an airbag deployment cylinder at a new level of efficiency.

"Reliable leak detection assures the pressurized cylinders will remain effective throughout the lifespan of a vehicle," Johnson said. "Our design drastically reduces costs by 95 percent, floor space by 99.5 percent and power requirements by 99 percent over current testing methods."

ASU's Polytechnic campus Professor Alvin Post, who supervised the student project, said the students spent two semesters designing and developing the prize-winning workstation.

TRW sponsored this year's ASU's Polytechnic campus design project, providing funding and occasional guidance along the way.

"It's something TRW really can use," Post said. "They have equipment to do this already, but it's made with old, bulky, expensive technology that needs to be replaced. The team designed new equipment with state-of-the-art, solid state gas sensors. The students are calibrating the workstation now, and we will turn the finished product over to TRW in early May."

The ASU's Polytechnic campus team includes: James Johnson, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada; James Serrano, Santa Clara, Calif.; Jeff Maldonado, Chandler; Tim Hillsamer, Flagstaff; Russell Kolinchak, Phoenix; and Brian Cromar, Pleasanton, Calif. All are seniors in ASU's Polytechnic campus's manufacturing engineering technology program.

Their award-winning project can be seen on the Web at