Kettering University students are uniquely positioned by their mix of professional experience through their co-op employment as well as experiential learning opportunities mixed into the curriculum on campus to rapidly develop a skillset that can impact industry.
Cold Jet, a company specializing in environmentally sustainable cleaning, surface preparation and transport cooling solutions, has made use of the unique expertise that Kettering offers among its student body. The company has been working with Dr. Charles White, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering faculty emeritus, and four students to determine the impact of using dry ice blasters to clean mold cavities and vents for part manufacturers.
White and the students -- Jeff Frary, Jason Ibarra, Andrew Frechen, Andrew Yount -- have been using a Cold Jet blaster in the Polymer Processing Lab to observe using a high speed camera and measure the forces of dry ice on a target.
“The surface quality of molds in manufacturing can change the quality of what is being produced,” said White, who still maintains a research lab at Kettering. “Using dry ice lets companies clean the molds without using water or chemicals, which can create secondary waste that can infiltrate and negatively impact the product. Cold Jet will be able to take the research our students are doing and use it to help them better clean molds.”
The consignment of the blaster was a result of an existing industry relationship between Cold Jet and Mark Richardson, lecturer in the IME Department. Richardson was able to discuss the capabilities of Kettering researchers and students and connected their team with White through the Office of Sponsored Research.
The four students working on this research are all Mechanical Engineering majors who, White notes, all “bring special talents” to the project. However, it is the combined willingness of Kettering students to try new things that makes them particularly valuable to industry.
“Our students are willing to try outside the box ideas,” White said. “And often, that thinking pays off -- I’ve had some students over the years who have come up with patentable ideas for companies during research like this.”
White’s research lab features a wide range of projects on display -- some from industry projects like this and some from the IME 575 failure analysis course. He and students have done research and testing on everything from automotive parts to wood chippers to coffee pots. He’s also worked with a wide range of companies and organizations, including the U.S. Navy, John Deere, Lear Corporation, Holland Power and Light and many others.
White typically has at least one-two students working on sponsored research projects at a time and has been doing it for approximately 20 years. It has created a lot of opportunities to gain experience and build resumes for those students.
“Companies respect the abilities of our students,” White said. “The companies we partner with get great analysis and our students get valuable experience that is different than what they get in the classroom or in their co-op jobs. This isn’t classical academia research -- they’re working on applied, problem/solution-oriented work that really makes an impact.”