CSU, Chico News

Manufacturing Students Win Top Award at Prestigious Event

Date: 04-02-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affiars
Leonard Fallscheer,
Manufacturing Technology

California State University, Chico Manufacturing Technology Program students once again won the Grand Prize in the prestigious WESTEC (Western Tool Exposition and Conference) Manufacturing Challenge on March 26 for an automated biodiesel processing system. The challenge was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In addition to the Grand Prize, the William B. Johnson Leadership in Manufacturing Award, given to one student from one of the entering universities, was awarded to CSU, Chico student Mike Bennet.

This is CSU, Chico’s fourth Grand Prize win in the last five years: 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Chico also won first places in 1987, 1993, 1995 and 1998.

CSU, Chico competed against a field of seven other universities that included Brigham Young University; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State Universities at Long Beach, Los Angeles and Northridge; and Western Washington State University.

The biodiesel processing system entered in the competition was a redesign of an existing manually operated home biodiesel kit. The students designed and fabricated a stainless steel tank, and fitted it with stainless steel valves, control sensors and a pump. Automation was provided by an Allen Bradley micrologix 1100 programmable logic controller in a protective housing with a touch screen on the front for programming the unit.

This project was done in co-operation with the Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center (University Farm) and the food services programs on campus. The cooking oil from food services in the campus residence halls will be converted into biodiesel for use in the tractors at the farm.

"This project was started in late October and completed as an extracurricular activity on the students’ own time," said Leonard Fallscheer, faculty advisor to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) chapter in the Manufacturing Technology Program. "Their planning and documentation of the whole procedure was professional, and their presentation to the judges was flawless."

A total of 22 students from Chico made the trip to the WESTEC challenge this year. "The students are very pleased with the recognition received, and we can all be justifiably proud of their accomplishment," said Fallscheer.

All the students on the WESTEC team are in the bachelor of science program in manufacturing technology and are members of SME. The team presenters were Jamie Cogorno, Mike Bennett, Kevin Stein, Jeff Ferrara and Dave Hill.

WESTEC is the largest manufacturing competition west of the Mississippi River. The Expo and Manufacturing Challenge are sponsored by SME, which has more than 400 professional and school-based chapters worldwide.

The bio-diesel project for the WESTEC competition was funded in part by Instructionally Related Student Activity Fees.

Fallscheer can be reached at 530-898-5320 or e-mailed at lfallscheer@csuchico.edu.