The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 16, 2014

Engineering the future

OTTUMWA — School isn't just reading, writing and arithmetic anymore. At Ottumwa High School these days, it's reverse engineering and functional analysis.

Summer West's Project Lead the Way Engineering class gave their semester project presentations Thursday morning, wrapping up several weeks of research and planning. They were to choose a common item, find a problem with it and then come up with various solutions and implement them.

Five projects were presented Thursday: a fan, a clock, a pepper grinder, a white-out dispenser and a three-hole punch. Each one had "design and functional issues" that the students then had to analyze and correct. This meant spending several weeks researching and developing working plans for their innovations.

Steven Wilson, Braxton Walker and Dalton Bowers worked on the fan presentation for several weeks, as each team had to analyze the product itself, write a visual and functional analysis of the object and market research was done to see if their innovative ideas would work in the real world. Then Computer Aided Drafting models of each part were made from the dimensions inputed into the program. This gives the students some added visualization for their calculations and ideas.

"It's a long process. We started before Christmas," Walker said. "We're building on a creative idea to build something new."

Their innovative idea for improving the fan was to add a remote control and misting element to the fan. The remote would control the mist, the concentration of spray and the direction and angle of the blades. While they didn't have to have a working model yet, West says a 3D printer can be used with some of the projects to see what they would actually look like.

Other innovations students made were adding solar power to a back-lit clock, finding a more efficient way to replace correction tape and making the trap on a three-hole punch a little more user-friendly.

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