Steve Eckart—Supporting Student Projects
“I never cease to be impressed and gratified by the ingenuity of our students. Most of the senior projects are driven by a sense of social consciousness.”
Few outside the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management get to see what goes on in Tech Shop III, overseen by supervisor Steve Eckart.
The Tech Shop comprises two facilities in O’Connell Technology Center and Langdon Engineering Center: an electronics and electrical shop and a mechanical shop for work like machining, fabrication, and welding.
“The greatest thing about this job is that it is very, very wide in scope,” he says. “Very rarely do we do the same thing from one day to the next.” And after nearly 20 years in the aircraft industry, Eckart was ready for whatever ECC could throw at him.
Tech Shop III has two main roles, says Eckart. The first is to support academic programs in the college by doing everything from installing and networking the lab computers for more than 1,000 students, to providing support for instructional equipment like wind tunnels, jet engines, and the test equipment in the electrical and mechanical engineering labs.
The second role is supporting student projects, especially the senior projects required for graduation. Engineering students spend the first semester of their senior year identifying a need and designing a project. The second semester, they go to Eckart in the tech shop for advice on the manufacturability of their design.
“I never cease to be impressed and gratified by the ingenuity of our students,” says Eckart. “Most of the senior projects are driven by a sense of social consciousness.”
Past projects have included a powered wheelchair ramp retrofit of the Disability Support Services cart used on campus, and a wind-powered water pump for use in Honduras and Antigua.