Needing to get a prototype produced in time to present it to a customer–the U.S. Army– during the contract design review, engineers at ESPEY Manufacturing and Electronics Corp. turned to Washington, Saratoga, Warren, Hamilton Essex BOCES students (WSWHE) for help.
The BOCES students are enrolled in Electrical Technology/Advanced Manufacturing, one of three programs offered through the SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy: An Early College High School Program.
They were recently tasked with producing a prototype of a new and lighter version of a portable pack that converts alternating current electricity to direct current electricity.
The portable pack is something that would be used on a vehicle’s engine to covert from 120-volt power to 28V that could be used for anything the soldier can think of, BOCES officials said.
“We had a true need,” said Patrick Enright, president and chief executive officer of ESPEY in Saratoga Springs. “We could have outsourced it, but we wanted to give the students a real-world, hands-on opportunity. The sooner we can get kids engaged, the better.”
Enright along with Adam Archard, a mechanical engineer at ESPEY who designed the prototype, attended a presentation by the three high school juniors who took on the challenge.
The students who worked on the project are: Tim VanDusen and Jonathan Luse from Saratoga Springs High School, and Zack Scheid from Queensbury High School.
During the presentation, the students described the process they used to produce the prototype and shared the challenges they encountered. The trio first had to determine how to divide the 14-inch by 12-inch product design into 5-inch by 5-inch by 5-inch pieces that would fit into their 3-D printer, officials said.
Using a 3-D printer consumes a lot of time and material. One piece could take 24 hours to print. The students reported there were a few power outages while they were printing resulting in an unfinished piece. However, due to that hurdle, the students learned how to finish printing the remainder of the piece instead of starting all over. The team also shared that their first try resulted in a miniature prototype.
The ESPEY CEO said that not all customers can envision products in the same way. Therefore, they have found having a 3-D model helps customers visualize the finished product.
The students produced the prototype in five weeks.
ESPEY is a business partner with the Early College Career Academy, a joint venture with WSWHE BOCES and SUNY Adirondack that offers high school students an opportunity to earn college credits.
ESPEY is a power electronics design and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) company, developing and delivering products for use in military and severe environment applications.