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Technology seniors improve unsafe machine, claim department honors at Senior Design Day

May 28, 2013

machine-guardingNIU’s Department of Technology of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology has announced the winner of its Senior Design Day competition.

Member of the “Advanced Machine Guarding” group – technology seniors Jacob Jackson, Jeremy Kutz and Simon Wu – worked together to invent a machine guarding teaching tool for students in technology, engineering and safety courses.

Machine guarding involves placing a barrier on machinery to prevent injuries to those who use the machine.

Theodore Hogan, assistant professor in the Department of Technology and the adviser for this project, requested this team create a classroom demonstration piece that could teach machine guarding principles to his students.

“The project was important as it provides the Technology Department with a needed teaching tool,” Hogan said. “Safety students already use a lathe to learn about machine safety, guarding, lockout procedures and electrical safety.”

Instead of inventing a new product entirely, the team retrofitted an unsafe machine with advanced machine guarding technology and was able to minimize the risk to the operator.

Throughout the project, the team had to consider how the human body functions and moves in juxtaposition to how the machine needs to operate. By working on this real application, team members were able to use the theoretical concepts they’ve learned in the classroom.

“Safety is of the utmost importance in the modern industrial world,” team member Jacob Jackson said, “and safety students graduating from NIU need firsthand knowledge of the kinds of machine guarding systems available: how they work and how they can be applied to make industrial equipment, and therefore the workplace, safer.”

Team members also obtained project management skills as well as experience with electrical design and the implementation of a real-life problem.