Penn College students produce custom rotors for Penn State EcoCAR

A group of Pennsylvania College of Technology students contributed to the Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team’s EcoCAR by producing custom brake rotors for the vehicle.

The team, made up of Penn State students, is producing a hybrid vehicle for EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. Sixteen teams from North American colleges and universities are competing in the three-year competition to design and build a working hybrid vehicle applying General Motors’ standard engineering design methods and employing innovative technology to reduce greenhouse emissions, achieve better efficiency and reduce overall petroleum consumption.

The Penn State team, in order to lighten the weight of its Saturn Vue, asked students in Penn College’s automated manufacturing technology department to produce titanium brake rotors for the vehicle.

“It’s good to work with a different material,” said Matthew S. Shupp, of Lehighton, a student in the automated manufacturing technology major who said that, for its strength, titanium is lightweight. It’s also relatively expensive. “We don’t work with titanium every day,” he said.

Five Penn College students in a fixture design and fabrication course taught by Keith H. English, instructor of machine tool technology/automated manufacturing, had a hand in the project, which took about a week and a half. The Advanced Vehicle Team delivered an aluminum prototype and the titanium material, and the Penn College students determined the measurements to reproduce the part from titanium. The students also machined aluminum “hats” for the rotors.

The biggest challenge of the project was designing fixtures to hold the rotors’ parts snuggly in place during welding. Titanium is prone to contamination during the welding process, which weakens the bond, so all surfaces, as well as the air surrounding the part, must be free of impurities, explained Robert M. Vaughn, assistant professor of welding, who welded the rotors. The pieces must fit tightly together before welding so that air and contaminants do not find their way into the gaps.

In addition to Shupp, other Penn College students involved in the project were Derek L. Anderson, of Ellsworth, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology; and Adam J. Becker, of Northampton, Anthony R. Marks, of Ligonier, and Nicholas M. Rumble, of Williamsport, who are pursuing associate degrees in machine tool technology.

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge is a multi-college competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, organized and overseen by Argonne National Laboratory.

The competition takes place over three years from 2008 to 2011. In this, the final year of competition, teams are expected to complete their vehicle, meeting current consumer acceptability expectations.

To learn more about automated manufacturing and other academic programs offered by the School of Industrial and Engineering Technologies at Penn College, call 570-327-4520 or visit www.pct.edu/schools/iet.

For more about Penn College, visit www.pct.edu, email admissions@pct.edu or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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Last Updated April 22, 2011