Columbia's involvement with the UW Madison Mechanical Engineering Programs senior design class began two years ago when a professor reached out to Jeff Reynolds, our Industrial Products Engineer and an alum of the program. Each year the program seeks corporate sponsors to help aid in students year long projects. This year, Columbia provided students with the use of a Columbia Payloader. With Jeff as their mentor, the students and Jeff met every few weeks to discuss the projects progress and to develop next steps.
Earlier this month, the students shared the results of their year-long study at their senior symposium. Their work on Columbias Payloader led to some interesting results. The first stage of the study involved the testing and analysis stages, in which students were able to create a root cause analysis involving lab testing equipment, design experiments, and creating the analysis itself. The next phase included code development, and hands-on product engineering. It was in this second phase that students were able to create an ultrasonic gauge designed for use in the final inspection process of Columbias vehicle manufacturing process. This process could replace an existing manual step and increase Columbias production throughout.
Columbia truly believes in inspired solutions that move our customers, and what better way to bring new insight than to help mentor the minds of the next generation of engineers. When asked about his experience with the program, Jeff stated that, This program is great! We [Columbia] have an opportunity to include outside opinions and new ideas from the students, their staff advisor and professor. I also enjoy being a part of the students learning process throughout the year. The program allows for students to gain real world experience that is beyond theoretical application and provides them a hands on opportunity to create something in their desired field.