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Carnegie Mellon engineering students design product to help Kennametal improve customer productivity

Carnegie Mellon Universtity : 27 January, 2004  (Technical Article)
Imagine a device that would enable an amazing $200-per-day production savings. Well, a Carnegie Mellon University mechanical engineering project class imagined just such a device and designed a product that could save time and money for Kennametal, Inc. customers.
'The innovative new device allows for some quick change of worn or used tools,' said John VanKirk, chief technology officer of Kennametal, Inc., a Latrobe-based global tooling solutions supplier. 'And we have filed for a patent on this student-design.'

In fact, Kennametal engineers say the new product could boost customer productivity and shave $60 off of every shift of production. The device, dubbed Insta-Insert, allows for multi-insert cutting heads to be replaced in a matter of minutes rather than the traditional 30- to 40-minute downtime that is required without Insta-Insert.

'Now our machinists can change machining inserts with a cam-lever and torsion spring instead of the old method of using screws and a wrench,' said Jim R. Kasperik, a 1994 Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering graduate, a senior product engineer at Kennametal.

James Raskob, who participated in the Kennametal-sponsored class, said he was thrilled when Kennametal officials said they would seek a patent for his team's class project. 'This is a great addition to my resume, and a wonderful learning experience,' said Raskob, who graduated from Carnegie Mellon in December 2003 with a mechanical engineering degree.

Kennametal sponsored the capstone senior design class with financial support, guest lectures from Kennametal experts, a technical coach for each team and a trip to the Quentin C. McKenna Technology Center in Latrobe, Pa. Kennametal requested the students design products be focused around the open-ended topic of environmentally conscious machining. Jonathan Cagan, a professor of mechanical engineering, used real life issues to teach students methods in his book 'Creating Breakthrough Products,' which is co-authored with Professor Craig Vogel from Carnegie Mellon's design school.

'This is a class where students learn how to find opportunities to create breakthrough products in any industry and gain real insight into emerging trends in both consumer and industrial markets,' Cagan said.

'Students who have no background in the machining industry designed full product concepts in 16 weeks using an industry-applicable methodology,' Cagan added.

More than 40 engineering students worked in teams of four and created everything from a machinist's apron that protects workers from stinging lubricant and flying chips to a chiller that keeps unhealthy bacteria out of a machine lubricant.

'The course was a great success because the students gave us some interesting new paradigms and we'd love to do it again,' said VanKirk, whose company's own innovative legacy saw Kennametal develop a novel approach to metalworking in products from automobiles to airliners.

In the past decade, colleges have been creating innovative new ways to deliver engineering education to students, according to Bob Black, deputy executive director of the American Society of Engineering Education. Nationwide, there are 1,600 engineering programs at more than 300 institutions and many of the programs expose students to innovative curriculum via industry involvement or in house programming, according to ABET, Inc., which accredits and promotes the advancement of education in applied sciences, computing, engineering and technology.
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