Pneumatic Lab Team Takes to the Sky

Last month, we gave a glimpse into a project we’re sponsoring for a team of students from Purdue Polytechnic Institute. They’re building what we’ve dubbed a pneumatic training lab for a senior capstone project. This lab package will offer practical, hands-on applications of the pneumatic theories students learn about in lectures. In late October, the team flew down to Florida to meet with our president, Dan Cook. Two of the four students offered first-hand accounts of the trip.

Pneumatic Lab team group meal
The Pneumatic Lab team enjoying a meal out with Proportion-Air’s president, Dan Cook. From left: Dan, Felicia Shadoan, Jake Parsons, Justin Laird and Bryce Greenman.

Jake Parsons

Major: Electrical Engineering Technology

Hometown: Fishers, Ind.

The Pneumatic Lab team went down to Proportion Air South for a weekend in October. There, we were able to work hands-on with pneumatic components, some of us for the first time. Dan Cook had several experiments set up in order to teach different topics including force, pressure and flow. It was very cool to see how he operates down there. One of the experiments that really captured our interest was a rig that controlled the position of a pneumatic cylinder with an ultrasonic sensor. As your hand moved closer to the sensor, the rod on the cylinder would move proportionately. We tried to trick the rig by moving back and forth very quickly, but the closed-loop control system that controlled the position had a very quick response time and very little error so the rig was right on the mark with our hands. It was very neat to see. Bryce (Greenman, another student on the team) and I are electrical engineering technology majors so we have not seen any of these parts in action. Before this we were going off of just what we learned from our mentor, Jose Garcia, and what our mechanical group members taught us. For us it was a very cool experience to see these systems firsthand and be able to create some of the ideas that were rolling around in our heads. I know I spent an hour just throwing parts together to see what happened. All around, we gained quite a bit of knowledge and had a lot of fun doing it.

Justin Laird

Majors: Mechanical Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Engineering Technology

Hometown: Indianapolis, Ind.

Before leaving from the airport in Indianapolis our group met up with Ross. (Ross Bercot is a Proportion-Air employee helping guide the student team.) The first day that we arrived in Florida, we met up with Dan Cook. Dan took us to one of the local restaurants along the coast to brief our team on Proportion-Air. We learned more about Proportion-Air North in McCordsville, Indiana, and how the Proportion-Air South research facility interacts and works together. This trip to Florida greatly influenced the concepts that we decided to implement into the labs that we are creating for the curriculum. During our visit, I primarily worked with Dan to create physical models that demonstrated labs that our group intends to create. Dan showed the team concepts related to hysteresis, load cells, generators, pressure, temperature, cylinder position and force that were all applications of pneumatic power. Many of the components that were used in this lab were either already at the Proportion-Air South facility or components that he has accumulated from his time in Indiana. Not only did the lab concepts themselves change our work for Gate 2, but the hands-on activity helped give us a much better idea of what components we could expect to be using in our fluid power course for labs. One specific component that the team learned about was the application of AODD (air-operated double diaphragm) pumps. Dan made sure to demonstrate his mega AODD pump to the team and showed how effective it was in moving fluid from one tank to another. These experiences at Proportion-Air helped us develop better ideas for our labs that we are creating and gave us a good direction for where our project to go. The team completed Gate 2, offering design concepts, shortly after they returned from their trip. They’re currently working on Gate 3, process and project design, which is due in mid-December. Keep following our blog and follow us on Facebook (#pneumaticlab) to learn more about these students and the progress they’re making with the pneumatic lab.