yzer Gardiola, a senior mechanical engineering student, had an idea to design and build a grill, but not just any grill.
“My product is a charcoal grill that is capable of folding into a briefcase-like form, which makes it extremely portable and compact,” said Gardiola, already accustomed to making his sales pitch. “It’s perfect for road trips, camping, tailgates or just hanging out in your backyard with some friends.”
With Boomer the Bobcat embellishing the sides of his product, it’s both practical and attractive. It has the potential to become a retail product on the market. Gardiola’s design won first prize in the 2016 Bookstore Design Showcase and now has an opportunity to make a deal with the university bookstore to manufacture and sell his product.
In the Engineering Design course, senior students design and build a prototype that can be sold in the bookstore for less than $25.
“The bookstore show provides the students with an introduction to the design process using a short readily achieved project,” said John Reap, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who teaches the course that was originally designed by Grant Crawford, professor of mechanical engineering.
Reap acknowledges that the students aren’t given a lot of direction. “That was part of the project, learning the design process. Step one is to clarify your task.”
Each student had about five weeks to design and create their product and then present them in the student center piazza on Oct. 3. Members of the campus community voted to determine the winner. A separate evaluation from the professor determined their grade. Other products included a multi-tool pocket knife and a magnetic bottle-hanger and opener for your refrigerator.
The students tapped into the school’s many resources and workshop rooms for the project. Gardiola constructed his grill using the equipment in the engineering fabrication workshop, with the assistance of engineering lab technicians, Robert Castiglia and Dennis Hanlon.
Other students used the school’s 3D printer to create their products.
The experience they gain from that is applied to the major design experience, which is a larger project that lasts the entire year and sometimes involves external companies, Reap said.
“Overall the students did reasonably well,” Reap said. “Kyzer had an interesting idea and he fabricated it really well. Clearly Kyzer went over the top. As the old saying goes, ‘To the victors go the spoils.’ I hope he gets his grill produced and marketed.”