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A $178,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust is enhancing research opportunities for mechanical engineering students and allowing them to use some of the latest equipment available in the field.

The thermal/fluids laboratory is using $106,000 to update its Hampden six-pass heat exchanger hot water system, purchase an apparatus that uses an environmentally friendly operating fluid for its Hampden basic refrigeration trainer, and acquire a MiniLab gas turbine power system and HushKit gas turbine sound suppression system. The equipment demonstrates fundamental mechanical engineering phenomena and can be used in both the instrumentation lab and the thermal/fluids lab. It will enhance the education and research experiences of about 160 students annually.

The manufacturing laboratory received $72,000 to purchase a 3-D printer and lathe. The Spectrum Z510 color 3-D printer will aid in the process of rapid prototyping, in which parts are created directly from computer drawings by adding material layer upon layer to “grow” a prototype of the final part. Scott Hummel, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is part of a research consortium on the rapid prototyping of metals. The Clausing/Metosa straight bed 13-inch geared head lathe will replace the lab’s two current lathes. This new equipment will impact students and professors doing research and projects with design components.

The new equipment was installed this summer. The equipment is being incorporated into courses and labs this academic year, with full implementation scheduled for 2006-07.

“The money allowed us to greatly improve the quality of the learning experience in the thermodynamics laboratory,” says Steve Nesbit, associate professor and department head of mechanical engineering.

The George I. Alden Trust awards financial support to institutions of higher education in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the six New England states. It provides funds for renovation and equipment purchases/upgrades within the areas of science and engineering. Lafayette previously received funds from the Alden Trust for its neuroscience program.

About 22 percent of Lafayette’s enrolled students are engineering majors. Offering both A.B. and B.S. degrees, the program is distinguished by small classes taught by full-time faculty, and the fact that up to 21 percent of an engineering major’s courses may be chosen outside engineering/mathematics/science. The program is a national leader in undergraduate research opportunities and study-abroad options.

Categorized in: Academic News