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Log splitter project a valuable hands-on experience

Printer-friendly version Posted Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 14:45
The students stand behind the log splitter they helped create.
Pictured, along with the log splitter they created, are, from left to right, Alfred
State mechanical engineering technology students Elizabeth Glick (Schenectady),
Josh Spoth (Arkport), Ryan Goodfellow (Baldwinsville), Tyler Siddle (Freedom),
and Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Chair and Professor
Matthew Lawrence. The other mechanical engineering technology students
who worked on the project, but are not pictured, are Jon Pearl (Cameron Mills),
Carl Murray (Naples), Justin Ramirez (New York City), Colby Wright (Lima), and
Billy Remis (Williamson).

Applied learning can be found throughout all of Alfred State’s 70-plus majors, both inside and outside of the classroom. This means students are exposed to some pretty amazing, and in some cases unique, experiences.

One such example is a project worked on recently by nine mechanical engineering technology students in their fluid power systems design course. Their task: designing and fabricating a log splitter.

Taking about an entire semester to complete, the log splitter uses an 8.5 horsepower Honda engine, a two-stage hydraulic pump, and is sized to handle 36-inch logs. The system is currently set to deliver 15 tons of force.

The course, taught by Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department Chair and Professor Matthew Lawrence, prepares students to take the hydraulic specialist certification exam offered by the International Fluid Power Society. The project was funded by the President’s Office; Dr. John Williams, the dean of the School of Architecture, Management, and Engineering Technology; and the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department.

Eventually, the log splitter will be donated to a campus or community cause identified by the college’s Center for Civic Engagement.

Tyler Siddle, of Freedom, said the log splitter provided him and the other students with an excellent learning opportunity and was a really nice experience because it’s not the sort of project a lot of colleges offer.

“It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and learn about hydraulics, and it’s another to actually put something like this together and use it,” he said.

Elizabeth Glick, of Schenectady, said the project even caught the attention of a company’s CEO, who, during a job interview, asked her about the log splitter, which she had mentioned on her resume when applying.

“It’s great to be a part of a project like that,” she said. “To actually take what we learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world applications is nice.”

In addition to Siddle and Glick, the other students who worked on the project include Jon Pearl, of Cameron Mills; Carl Murray, of Naples; Justin Ramirez, of New York City; Colby Wright, of Lima; Billy Remis, of Williamson; Ryan Goodfellow, of Baldwinsville; and Josh Spoth, of Arkport.

Lawrence said a tremendous amount of attention to detail went into the log splitter, noting that none of the materials were arbitrarily chosen, and that “nothing is left to chance with a properly engineered system.”

“This project teaches students how you can optimize a system, rather than just build a system,” he said. “A hydraulic log splitter is a pretty simple machine, but to build one correctly, it takes a lot of specific technical knowledge. These students put in that effort to do it right, and I think that’s really rewarding.”