Purdue and German Students Get Off To A Spinning Start With Help From Siemens | Automation.com

Purdue and German Students Get Off To A Spinning Start With Help From Siemens

July 232004
ATLANTA (July 20, 2004) -- Six graduating Purdue University mechanical engineering students got their careers off to a spinning start when they teamed up with students from a German university to build a portable amusement-park ride.

Constructed with more than $12,000 in control, drive and motor products donated by Siemens Energy & Automation, Atlanta, the students created a "personal carousel" resembling a teacup ride capable of pulling 1G.

The project was part of Purdue's Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE) program that promotes studying and working abroad. The team of Purdue students and nine students from the Universitat Karlsruhe in Germany culminated a two-semester long design project in April, when they demonstrated their prototype at Purdue.

The amusement-park ride can fit up to four people and is controlled by a Siemens SIMATIC S7-200 PLC. It also includes two hydraulic safety switches, a safety start mechanism and a Siemens TP070 programmable operator interface. A Siemens G110 AC drive powers each of three Siemens NEMA motors. One 3 HP motor serves as the main drive and ½ HP motors serve as secondary drives for each gondola.

The personal carousel is constructed with a 12-foot-long steel-beam assembly with two seats at each end. Each pair of seats is mounted on a single platform, and the two platforms spin as the entire assembly revolves while tilting up and down, seesaw-like, every 11 seconds.

“Just like a teacup ride, the carousel rotates,” said Eckhard Groll, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue who advised the team of American and German students. “On each side there are two gondolas with two seats that are also spinning. The platform can be lifted up to a 15 degree angle up and down. It is quite impressive.”

In addition to completely designing the carousel, Groll said the students also were required to tackle the task from an entire project management standpoint.

“They had a tremendous learning curve,” Groll said. “The project combined all aspects of engineering. The students had to set up as a company with a vice president of engineering and another in charge of finances and scheduling. There were also group leaders for hydraulic, mechanical and electrical control. The remaining students were design engineers.”

The students put in about 2,900 hours, designing and building the ride. As part of the program, the six Purdue students spent one semester in Germany where they worked for three months as Siemens interns designing the ride with their German counterparts. The following semester both the Karlsruhe and Purdue students returned to Purdue to construct the carousel.

"I think I probably learned more out of the classroom than I actually did in the classroom, which is the point of study abroad in the first place," said Katie Boor, 22, who graduated in May with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. "I know I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of accomplishing."

Groll said beyond the engineering experience, the project and internship with Siemens will benefit the students in many ways. He also says the investment is already paying off for Siemens.

“Siemens has been a fantastic partner. This project has significant impact and visibility among all the students at Purdue,” Groll said. “These are the top students in the class and they are heavily recruited, so it gives Siemens an advantage in attracting the young engineers. In fact, one of the U.S. students working on this project has accepted a job with Siemens in Buffalo Grove following graduation.”
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