Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 30
Another MDL team is
working to improve a hoist
used to move a disabled
person from bed to chair.
Students had modified it so
an aide could work without
assistance. To reduce its
pendulum effect, students
added a damper to the arm
and tested it using project
engineer Scott Miller '75
as their patient.
" WE T E L L T HE M ' Y O U H AVE TO D O C U M E NT YO U R FIN DI N GS,
JUS T IF Y Y O U R E N G IN E ERING, AND S P EAK C LE ARLY TO A
CL I E NT . IN T H E C O M M E RC IAL W O RLD YO U H AVE TO DO I T
A L L , AN D O U R S T U D E NTS NE ED TO K NO W TH IS ." SCOTT MILLER '75
you have to keep your eye on the target; you have to answer the
Miller, a mechanical engineer who has worked for GE, insists
the students he mentors look beyond the pure engineering to
organize their time and work together. Frequently, they experience
a steep learning curve.
"I don't think they always believe us when we tell them 'you
have to document your findings, justify your engineering, and
speak clearly to a client,' " says the project engineer. "In the
commercial world you have to do it all, and our students need to
The Design Lab doesn't only help prepare future engineers.
GE, Raytheon, Corning, and a host of other industry sponsors
30 RensselaeR/ Fall 2017
benefit by having students make their products and systems
"Our sponsors expect results and they come back again and
again because they get them," says Junichi Kanai '83, professor
of practice and associate director of the Design Lab. The work
can also mean not finding answers. "We have had companies say
'thank you for helping us avoid investing $3 million on a technical
solution that didn't work.' "
In recent years, Boeing has asked the Design Lab to develop
a robotic system to improve the manufacture and maintenance
of airplanes. Philips assigned a team to figure out why it is harder
to manufacture MRI magnets in summer months. Raytheon
requested assistance reducing the cost of circuit board assembly.