Designing, building, trouble-shooting and documenting manufacturing  improvement processes is the final Mechatronics Capstone Project for some Cleveland State Community College Advanced Technologies students. Four student-led teams presented their capstone projects to industry partners last month.

Each spring, students in the Manufacturing Applications class divide into teams to design capstone projects to demonstrate their understanding of the principles of electrical, mechanical, fluid power (hydraulics and pneumatics), and industrial computer controls which they learned throughout their time at Cleveland State. These student-led, hands-on projects are graded by industry and education partners.

“This complex exercise exposes students to, not only critical thinking skills, but also soft skills,” said Chris Jones, mechatronics instructor. “Students start off the semester doing a ‘pen factory’ simulation which teaches the principles of Kaizen, lean manufacturing and continuous manufacturing improvement. Then, the students go into their capstone projects which lasts the remainder of the semester.”

The four teams each had five members. Team Sunny Side Up created an automated solar panel that automatically tracks the sun throughout the sky. Team C.R.E.E.M (Cole, Ryan, Erick, Eli, McCoy) created an automated injection molding machine. Team M.O.O.S. (Make Your Own Sandwich) created an automated sandwich maker. Team Mechanical Spirits created an automated drink mixer that serves one drink at a time.

Erik Vasquez on the C.R.E.E.M. team is a first-generation college graduate. “I love this experience,” shared Vasquez. “I’m really new to this; no one in my family has ever gotten a degree. I think this helps expand my knowledge so much more and solidifies that I want to continue in the mechatronics field.”

Weyman Wilson, Maintenance Planner at Mars Wrigley, judged the capstone presentations. He said, “I was blown away last year by the projects; the projects this year make me excited for next year. I hope I’m in a position at work where I get to come and do this. This is a fantastic program; I love every bit of it. I’ve worked with Mr. Monroe and Dr. Wilson at Mars and at school; this is absolutely amazing.”

Dr. Tim Wilson, Advanced Technologies Department Chair, said “The Mechatronics Capstone projects and presentations have been measurably successful over the years. Students demonstrate professionalism in their team-based presentation and demonstration of their final work. Oftentimes, job offers are made on the spot from our industry leaders who serve as judges of their presentations. Mr. Monroe and Mr. Jones have led the way in preparing our students to work as a team, think critically and present themselves in a professional manner. Additionally, our students have testified how prepared they feel entering the workforce from their studies in Mechatronics Technology and especially the team-based capstone projects.”

For more information about the mechatronics program at Cleveland State, email advanced_technologies@clevelandstatecc.edu or call (423) 473-2447.