Students prepare to test their electric bikes.
While many recent college graduates spent hours writing their final capstone papers, Dunwoody’s Engineering Drafting & Design students were busy with a more hands-on project. The assignment? To design and build a custom electric bicycle using as many of the skills they acquired from the last two years of their educational experience as possible.
Armed with the electronic components from a Razor scooter, five teams were given a budget of $150 to fabricate a bicycle that could hold a minimum of 160 pounds and make it up the inclined road outside the north entrance of Dunwoody.
“By having a real build with functional requirements, the students are exposed to some of the demands expected in industry as opposed to just a computer model,” Instructor Alex Wong explained.
Open guidelines lead to innovative problem-solving
Because the guidelines for the assignment were relatively open, each team came up with something different. But not without some problem solving along the way.
“In addition to reinforcing skills the students learned in the program – from modeling and drawing to time management and teamwork – all of the teams ran into some issues and had to troubleshoot or adapt to it, “ Wong said. “The real world will always have unexpected situations, and the students were able to think on their feet and overcome these obstacles.”
The Hacks pictured from L to R: Instructor Alex Wong, Hunter Thome, Stevie Nguyen, Ryan Fales and Aaron Abbot
Student Ryan Fales – a team member of The Hacks who produced a 1906 Harley-inspired bike – described how their team pushed the limits of their design by using aluminum to produce a curved main frame. He explained that even though aluminum is a brittle material and hard to bend, they needed a light-weight metal in order to get the bicycle to work.
“We wanted to push ourselves and take the risk to see what we could do and what we could handle,” Fales said.
Stevie Nguyen – also a member of The Hacks – said she spent hours researching bendable aluminum tubing, only to find out that the tubing her team already purchased wasn’t supposed to bend.
“We decided, you know what, ‘screw the internet, let’s just try it’” Nguyen said. “It ended up working. And with no fracturing either.”
Killin It Kustomz team pictured from L to R: Austin Zimmermann, Pierre Yang, Grady O’Gorman, and Brady Hansen
Another team – Killin It Kustomz – was strapped for time when the rear wheel they ordered for their Chopper-style bike was the wrong size. To finish the project on time, within budget and to their aesthetic standard, the team designed a wheel in SolidWorks. They printed the wheel on one of the College’s Stratasys 3D printers and the bicycle was ready to go.
“We put a bike inner tube on the inside [of the wheel] so it doesn’t hold air itself,” student Pierre Yang said during his presentation. “And it works perfect.”
A lesson in teamwork
Engineering Drafting & Design students collaborate with Welding students to fabricate custom bike frames.
The Engineering Drafting & Design students were also given the opportunity to pair with Dunwoody’s Welding students to fabricate their bike frames.
The welding students made suggestions for ways to simplify the frame to make manufacturing easier and Engineering Drafting & Design students, in turn, gained insight on how to make a more successful prototype.
While presenting Whisp, Team Two’s bike, Cam Treebly explained, “we had a couple points of contention and [the welders] inspired confidence in us probably two or three times. They were very proactive; we really can’t say enough about them.
Instructor Alex Wong believes collaboration between multiple departments is a key piece in developing the soft skills needed out in industry. Recently awarded Dunwoody’s Outstanding Academic Innovation Award, Wong has a passion for creative curriculum that pushes his students to work with other departments to solve problems.
“I think it’s really important for the designers to get to know what goes on in their manufacturing departments,” Wong said. “Especially when they are designing computer models of products.”
Find more information about Dunwoody’s Engineering Drafting & Design degree here.