Engineering students at two U.S. universities are getting a chance to work on real product development assignments for their senior projects, thanks to partnership with Ingersoll Rand engineers in Davidson, North Carolina, and Kent, Washington.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) are developing an energy recovery system to power a dose controller from the exhaust air of a diaphragm pump for our Fluid Management business.
ARO double-diaphragm pumps operate off compressed air. They can be regulated by an electronic dose controller. But the controller requires electricity. So the students are investigating the feasibility of a device that can convert the unused energy from the vented air into electricity to power the controller.
“The vented air from the pumps contains a lot of energy,” said Josh West, electrical systems innovation leader at Ingersoll Rand. “A portion could be recovered and used to power local electronic devices, such as our controller, which normally requires an additional AC power source.”
“The controller uses only a little electricity, but you still have to run power to wherever it is,” he said. “This could be a great solution for portable systems or when electric power isn't readily available.”
If the concept proves out, the Davidson engineers could turn the project over to the commercial team for additional development.
Across the country, in Kent, engineering students at Seattle University are taking on another assignment, this one for Ingersoll Rand’s Material Handling business.
At the suggestion of the engineers, the students are designing and manufacturing a prototype air flow hour meter that would be a useful device for Ingersoll Rand winches and hoists or other equipment powered by compressed air.
“The air flow hour meter would be like the odometer in your car,” said Eric Lentz, engineering Operational Excellence leader at Ingersoll Rand. “By measuring the flow of compressed air, it would record how many hours the winch or hoist has been running. That would be very helpful in determining maintenance cycles for the winch or hoist.”
“This project helps the students go through the problem-solving process that they’ll need as engineers,” said Anthony Jones, global engineering leader at Ingersoll Rand. “We meet with the students once a week to offer direction, provide coaching and make sure they ask the right questions.”
Next month the students will give their project presentation on their college campus, along with 30 other teams. This project too could go to commercialization, if the concept proves viable.