Teamwork makes the engineering dream work

Engineering creates real-world experience through project



Students constructed a fully automated pizza maker as shown here

Typically, as the year begins to come to a close we are faced with a final challenge. Whether it’s a final exam or project, we all know what it feels like to find the motivation for that one last push.

The second and third year engineering classes know this all too well, as they are given a chance to create products from scratch in their annual “big project.”

This year, students had to construct a fully automated pancake machine, pizza maker, chocolate cookie maker, or a tray delivery system. The entire project is student-led.

“The goal of the ‘big project’ is to simulate a real work environment that consists of thinking, prototyping, building and most of all communication and project management,” said Department Chair Jason Boumstein.

Students have been working on this project for several months. Senior Whitney Hoban, who has been doing engineering for two years and plans to study engineering in college, built a chocolate machine with her group.

“The idea for our machine was evolving through the entire project and our idea for each machine started off completely different than how it ended up,” she said.

The skill to adapt and make changes is common throughout these projects. In order to counteract these roadblocks, communication is crucial. No one can make a fully automated pancake machine on their own.

“There is a design cycle in engineering and failure is part of making something succeed. Furthermore, communication is a major takeaway. Each class is setup with four or five subgroups with different tasks and they all have to communicate throughout the project,” Boumstein said.

Dylan Bruno, a junior who is potentially pursuing a career in engineering, worked on the pancake maker.

“The whole class needed to be on the same page to work together and complete the machine as a class, instead of individual parts that won’t work altogether,” he said.

As Hoban expressed, things don’t always go as planned. Ideas may change and students must adapt with them.

“Sometimes in real world situations, projects don’t go perfect and there are obstacles you cannot plan with a project of this magnitude,” Hoban said.

Especially in a time constraint, problems can be more catastrophic. “There were too many times where my group or others had to fix or rearrange designs which could waste large amounts of time that was crucial to completing our machine,” Bruno said.

Despite the sophistication of these projects, Boumstein observed a certain discipline in his students that helped them produce a quality end product.

At the conclusion of the project, students have the opportunity to show off their work to their parents during parent night.

“The pride and discipline students have for designing a concept and making it a reality impressed me. By the end of the assignment, students are so personally invested that it no longer is just an assignment, but rather their own masterpiece,” said Boumstein.