Engineering graduate student places second in DMC Hackathon

Pamela Krewson Wertz
July 29, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Graduate student Connor Jennings was part of a team of students and industry professionals that earned second place in a competition that had participants “hack together” a solution to resolve issues faced by manufacturers on the factory floor.

Jennings and Zachory Taylor from Western Illinois University, along with industry members Will Patton and Eric Pettersen, comprised Team Superman and finished second in the first-ever Digital Manufacturing Commons (DMC) Hackathon.

Participants were provided with six years worth of manufacturing sensor data and were sent to flesh out their ideas by using the information in an innovative and efficient manner.

"We were presented with this huge set of data and were essentially asked: ‘What can you make from this?’" Jennings explained. "And then beyond that, we were asked what additional data could be used to gain further insight."

Eleven teams comprised of students and industry members competed in the event, which was held July 15-17 in Chicago. Students as well as representatives from companies such as General Electric and Salesforce were among event participants.

Teams were judged on a 10-point scale in four categories: business viability, innovation, impact and leveraging of the DMC in the solution.

Jennings, an industrial engineering doctoral student, and his teammates took home a prize of $600 and one year of membership to the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).

Jennings’ team created a dashboard from which manufacturers could monitor all of their machines. It included detailed information about each machine — including all aspects of performance — and included data visualizations, which was Jennings’ role in the team, so that trends could be easily identified. The displays had the ability to show the performance of each machine over time and could compare the outputs of each machine.

“What I think really helped us score well was that we also plotted whenever a machine had to be stopped because the cutting tools needed to be changed or the lineman had to switch out a part and change the code for it,” said Jennings. “When we plotted that out and created some visuals, managers could easily identify such problems and then make actionable decisions.”

Jennings said feedback from the event was extremely positive and he is looking forward to future opportunities.

He’s also interested in using the data set provided in his current research with the Center for e-Design, directed by Janis Terpenny, professor and head of the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State.

“This was a very different experience for me because it was such a diverse field of participants,” Jennings said. “There were a few academics, programmers, people from industry and manufacturing engineers that really didn’t have any programming experience but knew all about manufacturing. So, all of those people together working with the same set of data really made it a unique experience.”

Launched by DMDII in 2015, the DMC is a free and open-source software project designed to encourage collaboration and serve as an engineering platform.

According to the DMC website, the project is an “online community of users who can share data, analytical models, simulations and more. As a distributed cloud platform, the main purpose of the DMC is to disseminate the artifacts, knowledge, tools and techniques born from the work of the digital manufacturing community.”

Currently in the Alpha phase of development, the DMC will enable plug-and-play functionality across the entire digital thread from product development to manufacturing and services.

DMDII is a federally funded research and development organization of UI LABS that encourages factories across America to deploy digital manufacturing and design technologies, so those factories can become more efficient and cost-competitive.

See the Hackathon website for the complete list of winners.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 19, 2017