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ONU adopts Engineering Projects In Community Service program for assisting local communities

Oct 18, 2012

The Ohio Northern University College of Engineering’s real-life class, Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS), is working on three major projects throughout the area: building a replica of the Mars rover Curiosity for the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio; refurbishing a concrete base for historical Civil War cannons in Forest, Ohio; and upgrading the village of Ada’s website.

Modeled after a similar program started by Purdue University in 1995, the ONU EPICS program, which was formed this academic school year, represents a unique opportunity for teams of undergraduate students to design, build and deploy real systems to solve engineering-based problems for local community service and education organizations. ONU’s College of Engineering is one of only 21 universities from around the world to become a member of the EPICS University consortium.

EPICS projects allow students to gain valuable design-build experiences and to develop leadership and project management skills. Students also gain an awareness of professional ethics, the role of the customer in the engineering design process, and the role that engineering can play in the community. In turn, community organizations gain access to technical expertise that would normally be prohibitively expensive, giving them the potential to improve their quality of service or provide new services.

“We approached Ohio Northern University because of Dean Eric Baumgartner’s previous experience with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” said Christopher Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. “When I heard about the EPICS program, I immediately began to think of the engineering projects that might benefit the museum. The rover model should be completed by the end of the school year. Once delivered to the museum, it will be exhibited in the Modern Space Gallery when not in use. The rover also will make frequent appearances at community festivals and area high schools.”

Under the supervision of Baumgartner, the rover team consists of Rebekah G. Douglass, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Ashland, Ohio; Alec J. Flemming, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Powell, Ohio; Tyler O. Germann, a freshman electrical engineering major from New Haven, Ind.; Courtney J. Horstman, a freshman accounting major from Delphos, Ohio; Kurt T. Meyer, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Columbus Grove, Ohio; Kathryn J. Skobrak, a junior mechanical engineering major from New Albany, Ohio; Elizabeth M. Spingola, a junior engineering education major from Butler, Pa.; and Andrew S. Woodruff, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Dayton, Ohio.

Tom Zechman, assistant dean for academic and student affairsin engineering and assistant professor of civil engineering,is overseeing the group that is refurbishing the cannon bases in Forest. Two Civil War-era Rodman Cannons were brought to Forest by train in 1906 and delivered to Gormley Park by horse and wagon. The current concrete bases, built in 1906, have become worn over the past 106 years. The structural integrity of the bases is unknown; the village of Forest Parks and Recreation requested new base structures for aesthetic appeal and for the safety of the cannons and the visitors to the park. The projected completion date of this project is April 25, 2013.

The Forest project team is made up of George Hess, a sophomore civil engineering from Newbury, Ohio; Alex Altman, a sophomore civil engineering major from Napoleon, Ohio; Katie Bowman, a junior civil engineering major from Richfield, Ohio; Gabi Patarini, a senior civil engineering major from Elyria, Ohio; David Bruckelmeyer, a junior civil engineering major from Millersport, Ohio; Paul Gearhart, a sophomore civil engineering major from Waynesville, Ohio; Stephen Berner, a junior civil engineering major from Beloit, Ohio; Nate Ogden, a sophomore civil engineering major from Grosse Pointe, Mich.; Alex Frey, a junior mechanical engineering major from Upper Sandusky, Ohio; Sarah Massella, a senior civil engineering major from Bridgeville, Pa.; and Allyson Greenbaum, a junior mechanical engineering major from Bellefontaine, Ohio.

Dave Retterer, mayor of Ada and ONU associate professor of mathematics and computer science, is overseeing the website project for the village of Ada. This group is working on the website’s user interface design as well as designing the structure of the village’s website. Retterer expects the project to last for several semesters.

This team is comprised of computer science majors Victoria Kerr, a sophomore from Easton, Pa.; Tyler Jensen, a sophomore from Toledo, Ohio; Alex Pettit, a junior from Heath, Ohio; Noah Orr, a sophomore from Centerburg, Ohio; and Andrew Newman, a sophomore from London, Ohio.