December is nearly over and Winter break starts today, but before we send the Fredericksburg High School STEM Academy home for Christmas, we need to review what they have been working on these last four weeks, and try to wrap up the fall program. January starts the spring program loaded with really big goals and events that this past fall has been building toward. Each group’s learning will be evident in the success of this coming semester’s projects.
During the month of November the Freshman visited Toyota Manufacturing and Southwest Research Institute (SwRi).
The students were impressed with Toyota and how huge the plant itself is, as well as the difference in the type of automation used as compared to last month’s visit to Caterpillar. Toyota’s assembly line resemble Ford assembly lines. The components actually moved along on a line and each team had an assigned task as it moved by them. Caterpillar operated in stages where one team did several components before it moved to the next staging area.
Mr. Matthes remarked that ” The delivery logistics of parts to the assembly line was phenomenal!”
On December 13, the Freshman group visited Fischer and Wieser, Heartland Enterprises, and UT Aeromechanical Lab.
Fischer and Wieser and Heartland are Fredericksburg companies. They both demonstrated automation on a small-scale as compared to companies like Toyota and Caterpillar. Fischer and Wieser explained the importance of loyal employees and a family like environment.
Heartland is similar in framework and belief on how they treat their employees. Where as many companies prefer to hire very experienced candidates from other companies, Heartland prefers to hire inexperienced people and train them in their ways of operation. They find that by doing this they keep a certain working quality and alleviate the bad habits that experience can sometimes bring with it which can be adverse to the companies current operating practices and quality control initiatives.
Below are pictures from Heartland Enterprises:
Here, Alvin Culak, shows machine operations to students.
Students at UT Aeromechanical Lab and Flow Field Imaging Lab in Austin, were working on ablative testing for high velocity projectiles or vehicles, and a research lab studying hydrogen combustion and anomalies that may exist with it. These anomalies must be understood before hydrogen combustion can be considered for fuel. They are also studying wind tunnel testing designed to help discern the tendencies of shock for use in ramjet and hyper velocity propulsion systems.
Below, candidates took time with the students to explain and exhibit their work.
UT graduate student, Rakesh Ranjan, operates a swirl combustor at atmospheric pressure. For more information on this: http://research.ae.utexas.edu/FloImLab/highpressureflashback.php
UT graduate student, Benton Greene, demonstrated the Inductively Coupled Plasma torch. For more information on this: http://research.ae.utexas.edu/FloImLab/ControlofShockBoundaryLayerInteractionDistortionusingPulsedPlasmaJets.php
Another UT post-doctoral student, Leon Vanstone, not pictured, explained the experimental investigation of 3D shock wave/boundary interaction unsteadiness at the University of Texas at Austin High Speed Wind Tunnel Lab . For more information on this: https://utexas.box.com/s/n1kk9ozocyp8ozloo9dm9ujx23q6vuwj
Dr. Noel Clemens is the Principle Investigator for all experiments in the lab, and the primary decision maker. Jeremy Jagodzinski is the lab facilitator. He helps to support the research in the lab and also set up the visit for the students. Phillip Varghese oversees the Center for Aeromechanics Research which often collaberates with this lab. Thank you to all of them for facilitating the tour.
Mr. Matthes stated that, “the students really loved the research facility.”
Aside from field trips to see first hand about automation and manufacturing, the freshman have been learning about production/automation engineering. They are currently in the process of designing an orange juice production plant. Their product goal for the plant is to take raw material and produce packaged juice in palletized product bundles ready for sale. Jenny Weiser will be coming in January to see their presentations and evaluate and provide constructive criticism.
Sophomores will be entering the program for the second term, starting Jan. 23. ACC’s Auto CAD course will be their main focus learning to utilized specific skills and design elements.
The juniors flew their Generation 3 rockets recently. This provided several learning points that will be useful on their projects next semester. Students realized that even cutting edge design doesn’t always transfer well into the manufacturing ability of the vehicle. Failures in these construction and design frailties, resulted in irregular flight patterns. These mishaps translated into two days of Post Mission Analysis insuring that lessons from this would not carry over to next semester’s larger rocket project.
Here the juniors are building their G3 rockets.
In January, the juniors will begin work on their one pound/one mile vehicles to be tested out at Willow City in May. This is considered a sounding rocket designed to break the speed of sound without breaking a ceiling of 13,000 feet while carrying a one pound payload.
Seniors have been very busy, and experienced both successes and set backs on their projects recently. Testing on fuels is expected to begin in January as they are nearly complete with updates on test stand.
After manufacturing pieces for their small motor test stand out of 2024 aluminum, they discovered that this metal type cannot be welded. This resulted in having to procure another high strength aerospace aluminum which is conducive to welding. Once they find this they will have to begin again the manufacturing of the fuel grain containment system.
“These were very important lessons learned for all, them and me,” stated Mr. Matthes.
Preliminary Design Reviews were conducted on their Goddard level rocket, last week. Due to the set backs on test stand, previously discussed, the group lost time they should have had to work on their rocket design and therefore have a bit of ground to make up there in order to have those completed by January’s end.
This article is the fourth in a new series for this school year ’16/’17 of monthly updates that will follow the Fredericksburg STEM Academy/Rocket program. This school is a participant of the SystemsGo STEM program. This series of articles is intended to support, encourage, and challenge students in the program as they share their working status and accomplishments throughout the year in the program. These publications will be available for tags and re-posting.
www.systemsgo.org as always is the place for more information on this program. You may also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org . Take the time to get your school involved, the future of your students will be greatly benefited.