Date: April 18, 2012
Contact: Carol Connelly, Director,
Media & Communication Services, ext. 5267, firstname.lastname@example.org
PNC Students Take First Place in ASME Competition
Left to right: Ben Kienzynski, Elizabeth Bennett, James Morton and Pat Jarosak
Westville – A team of Purdue University North Central students recently earned a first-place finish in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Student Design Competition, earning the team a spot in the upcoming international competition.
The team, dubbed PNC Elite, came in first among the 26 teams representing colleges and universities from the 13-state Midwest ASME District. The PNC team members are team leader Pat Jarosak, of Chesterton; Elizabeth Bennett, Hebron; James Morton, Chesterton and Ben Kienzynski of Chesterton. Anthony Kueck, of Valparaiso, was a team member, but was not able to travel to the competition.
The team now moves on to the international competition that will take place against the other district winners this fall. ASME student membership is divided into 10 geographic districts located around the globe. Six districts are located in North America, including the United States, Canada and Mexico. The remaining districts include members in South America, Asia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, India and the Middle East.
The ASME Student Design Competition is presented during the ASME Student Professional Development Conference. The conference brings together hundreds of students for the opportunity to learn more the engineering field, to network with peers and to take part in competition that tests their knowledge and abilities.
“March Madness has a different connotation for our students,” said Edward Vavrek, PNC associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology and faculty advisor for the PNC student team. “At PNC it means working like mad to finish their design project for the annual ASME Design Competition held in March. This year their hard work paid off.”
The competition presented students with a real-world challenge similar who what some engineers encounter on the job. They were asked to design and build four self-propelled transportation devices, each fueled by alternate energy sources. Each teams' devices were required to have different on-board power sources and be able to compete in a relay race. The team completing the course in the shortest period of time won.
The ASME asked competitors to build their devices to precise specifications. The relay track was made to exacting dimensions.
The team members put in long hours working together. “One of the biggest challenges of this competition was to build four different devices (in the case of the PNC team, cars) with four different energy sources,” explained Jarosak. “Two weeks before the competition I was very nervous because we only had three working devices. I was thinking there was no way we could do it. The other devices took at least four weeks to build. We wondered how we were going to build one in just two weeks.”
Task Force Tips, in Valparaiso, allowed the team the use of its facility, so the team met to brain storm for one more idea with a different energy source. Jarosak extended his thanks to Stewart McMillan, president/owner of Task Force Tips, for allowing the use of the Task Force Tips resources and for his ongoing support.
“At that meeting, we decided to build the ‘potential energy' car,” said Jarosak. “Two weeks later, the car was finished and we were off to the competition.”
However, the team met one more delay - a trigger mechanism problem. That was finally solved at 2:30 a.m., the morning the team was to leave for the competition.
“This was one of the key moments that I thought we came together as a team,” recalled Jarosak.
The four vehicles devised and built by the PNC team vehicles were ready for the competition. During the race, the first car was started moving forward by a student. It traveled in its lane until it bumped the rear of the next car in the relay. That bump set off that car's energy source to start it on its way. The second car traveled its prescribed distance to bump and start the next vehicle on its patch until it triggered the fourth and final vehicle.
The PNC team win, sparked a celebration by the team members and Vaverek that was shared by friends and family members at home.
“I'm so proud of the team,” said Jarosak. The night before the competition we all stayed up late practicing and practicing and no one complained. We knew exactly why we were there and that was to win first place. Each team member was assigned a task and on competition day, each preformed the task flawlessly. That was why we were able to win - we worked as a team.”