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Academic Capability Producing Economic Development: A Success Story

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

New Trends in Engineering Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

7

Page Numbers

11.151.1 - 11.151.7

DOI

10.18260/1-2--876

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/876

Download Count

48

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Paper Authors

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Phillip Sanger Western Carolina University

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Phillip Sanger is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology and serves as the Director of the Center for Integrated Technologies at Western Carolina University. He holds a B.A. in Physics from Saint Louis University and earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Technology development including MRI magnets and SiC power devices plus economic development has been his career foci.

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Aaron Ball Western Carolina University

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Aaron K. Ball is an Associate Professor and serves as the Graduate Program Director in Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He holds a B.S. and an M.S. from Appalachian State University, and earned his doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His areas of interests include fluid power, advanced machining, prototyping systems, and applied research.

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Michael Clare Western Carolina University

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Michael Clare is a graduate student of Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University pursing a Masters of Science in Technology. He earned his B.S at Western Carolina University in 2004 and, at the time of this project, Mr. Clare was a senior in the Engineering Technology program.

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Chip Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Chip W. Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University and earned his B.S and M.S. at the University of Southern Mississippi, and currently a doctoral candidate at Western Carolina University. His industrial experience includes mechanical and fluid power systems and teaches parametric modeling and prototyping at Western Carolina.

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John D. Graham Western Carolina University

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John D. Graham, and who is know to all of his colleagues as Monty, is the electronics applications engineer providing technical support for all rapid prototyping in the Center for Integrated Technologies at Western Carolina University. Mr. Graham received his BS in Electronics Engineering Technology in 1995 and his M.S. in Technology in 2003, both from Western Carolina. His current project endeavors include rehabilitative technology and reverse engineering.

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Academic Capability Producing Economic Development: A Success Story

Abstract

This success story demonstrates the direct application of academic skills and capabilities to the growth and expansion of small Western North Carolina businesses while enhancing the educational experience for WCU engineering students. Watauga Opportunities Inc. (WOI) is a non-profit organization in Boone, NC that employs and trains people with disabilities to enter the workforce. Their company specializes in forming heated plastic sheets into a variety of packaging products. WOI turned to the Western Carolina University engineering team for assistance in securing a new business area: thermoformed packaging for Christmas tree ornaments. WCU engineering undergraduate students and professors generated a 3D parametric model that described the complex geometry. A high fidelity mold was then made from a high- heat resistant plastic called polyphenolsulfone (PPSF) which was used by WOI to generate thermoformed packaging prototypes directly from the rapid prototyped mold. Within two days of receiving the mold, WOI was able to thermoform parts in their plant delighting the surprised customer with prototypes four days after New Years Day. The successful outcome of the project opened the door to subsequent development work and led to orders valued at over $1M for products that had been previously manufactured in China. This paper discusses the challenges of the project and demonstrates an exciting application of graduate student and faculty talents to impact the economic development of the regional community.

Introduction

Over the past several years, Western Carolina University, under the leadership of Chancellor John Bardo, has championed the engagement of the WCU faculty, students, and resources with the economic growth of Western North Carolina. Western Carolina University is a regional comprehensive institution founded in 1889 with a distinguished history of teaching and learning for the region. Since research and development were not within the institution’s initial areas of focus, the infrastructure for applied research and supporting industry was limited. In a Regional Summit entitled “Meeting Western North Carolina’s Needs through Higher Education,” one of the recommendations was to explore “engagement in non-traditional and creative ways” providing new access by regional entities to the resources of the university1. The commitment to engagement is leading to its incorporation into the tenure and promotion process having importance equal to instruction and scholarship. The Kimmel School of Construction Management, Engineering and Technology has taken the lead in making WCU engagement a reality with the region and developing the needed performance metrics. The focus on engagement led to the creation in 2004 of the Center for Integrated Technologies (CIT) positioned within the Kimmel School. The mission of the CIT is to match the Kimmel School’s expertise and resources to Western North Carolina’s needs by forming effective partnerships to grow the region’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people. The dual goals of the CIT are: economic development and learning enhancement. Its mission comes to life through direct student/faculty projects and technical assistance to companies in our regions. At the time of this writing, 13 members out of the 21 faculty members have already been connected to engagement projects resulting in improvements to plant logistics, enhancements to productivity, ,

Sanger, P., & Ball, A., & Clare, M., & Ferguson, C., & Graham, J. D. (2006, June), Academic Capability Producing Economic Development: A Success Story Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--876

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