Fluid Power Journal

Proportion-Air Capstone Teams Wrap Up School Year

Two student teams from Purdue Polytechnic Institute completed capstone projects sponsored by Proportion-Air

McCordsville, IN – The 2023-24 academic year is coming to a close for most colleges and universities. At Purdue Polytechnic Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana, the annual School of Engineering Technology Spring Tech Expo held last week offered capstone teams the chance to show off what they’ve accomplished during their year-long project. Two teams sponsored by Proportion-Air joined approximately 30 others as they presented their projects to other sponsors, students and faculty members.

Team 15: Burling Valve Improvement

Team 15 undertook a project to improve the design of a Burling Valve regulator to perform more effectively in superheated steam applications. The team included three students from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute: Vincent Zhi, majoring in mechatronics engineering technology and electrical engineering technology; Christopher Kurniawan, a mechanical engineering technology major; and Hunter Kepner, also majoring in mechanical engineering technology.

Like the old adage, the team found that a problem well-defined is a problem half solved. When asked about the biggest challenge they faced, they identified the scope of the redesign.

“At first, we thought that we were going to need to redesign the entire valve,” said Kurniawan. “But when we looked deeper, it turned out it was just the seal and the piston.”

Once they had a better handle on the potential deliverable, they successfully created a 3-D printed version of a new seal and piston design.

With their project completed, the team can focus on their next steps. Kepner has accepted a position at a manufacturer in Noblesville, Indiana. Kurniawan will be joining Air Systems Inc. in San Jose, California, creating controls for HVAC systems. Zhi has one more year of undergraduate work before graduating.

Team 16: Acoustic Position Sensor

The second Proportion-Air team, Team 16, completed work on an acoustic sensor solution to provide proportional control for cylinder position without using a rod. Five students were involved in this project: Jason Ripper, an audio engineering technology major; Jacob Nicholson, majoring in mechanical engineering technology as well as automation and systems integration engineering technology; TJ Manifold, majoring in electrical engineering technology; Nico Macchiavello, double major in electrical and audio engineering technology with a certificate in music technology; and Ian Cockrell, majoring in robotics engineering technology with a minor in electrical engineering technology.

Team 16 identified the chemistry they had together as one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.

“The project was the most fun when it started working, but even when it wasn’t, just being able to come in and talk with the entire group, being honest and open, was great,” said Cockrell.

After some initial challenges, the team found success, which involved measuring the amplification of the sounds they were hearing.

Like Team 15, this group of students has big plans after their finals. Ripper has accepted an offer with Caterpillar as a systems engineer on the large diesel engine electronics team. Nicholson will be joining Auburn Gear in Auburn, Indiana, as a process engineer. RZ Automation in Noblesville, Indiana, will have Cockrell on their staff as an automation engineer. Manifold is in search of an engineering role near Cincinnati. Macchiavello will rejoin HARMAN International as a summer intern before returning to campus in the fall to finish his final semester as a Purdue Polytechnic student.

More Educational Programs

These are just two of several teams that have completed capstone projects with Proportion-Air. For more information about capstone projects, an electro-pneumatic starter kit and other educational opportunities, visit proportionair.com/student-programs or call 888-200-9564. 

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