A team of Central Oregon high school students led by an Oregon State University-Cascades computer science junior are building sensors that Oregon firms can use to advance manufacturing processes and extend the life of their equipment.
Manufacturers depend on machinery to operate at specific temperatures and speeds for optimal production and minimum waste. But they often lack technology to measure or respond quickly to changes in these critical functions.
That may change thanks to the work of OSU-Cascades student Andras Mihaly, who is leading a team of local high school students in the Innovation Co-Lab to build and configure sensors that can provide manufacturers the real-time data and alerts to optimize production, save downtime and limit product loss.
Mihaly is coaching 10 high school students from Crook County High School in Prineville, Redmond High School, and Summit High School in Bend through the sensor development process which includes packaging the sensors in kits in protective foam cases and branded boxes for shipment.
“Connecting with the high school students is great. It feels good to help facilitate and see them get excited about their work,” said Mihaly.
The project came about when the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership approached OSU-Cascades computer science instructor Yong Bakos and Adam Krynicki, executive director of the Innovation Co-Lab, about technology solutions for production challenges facing Oregon’s small and mid-size manufacturers.
“We took this on as a real-world problem and engaged undergraduate computer science students like Andras in designing an innovative solution, and partnered with the Central Oregon STEM Hub to extend the project’s impact to high school students,” said Bakos. “Andras is now inspiring a future generation of technologists.”
Called “Internet of Things” or IoT plug-and-play sensors because of their ability to connect to the internet, each device is smaller than a deck of playing cards.
They can be programmed to measure, for example, unwanted vibration in cooling fans or temperatures that fall beneath normal in cooking ovens.
The sensors are user-friendly, easy to install and gather data wirelessly to populate real-time data dashboards and send alerts.
“The Innovation Co-Lab was designed for challenges like these,” said Krynicki. “When we bring together faculty experts like Yong, student interns, sponsors like the Central Oregon STEM Hub and real world partners like OMEP, the amazing happens. We’re creating high-impact solutions that make Oregon’s businesses and economy better while growing future leaders.”
The team is producing 10 kits of sensors. OMEP will rotate kits for use amongst manufacturers, allowing owners to experiment and understand how these technologies can benefit their company.
“Oregon’s smaller manufacturers don’t have resources for tech advancements that give larger manufacturers a competitive edge,” said Kleve Kee, managing consultant of OMEP. “The IoT kits allow manufacturers to increase their competitiveness and profitability through affordable and accessible technology.”
The project is funded through a grant to the Central Oregon STEM Hub from the U.S Department of Education’s Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship, which is administered by the Oregon Department of Education to support Career and Technical Education programs.
OMEP is supporting the project with a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for Industry 4.0 program development in Oregon for small and medium sized manufacturers.