Purdue University and Marquette University are the recipients of the spring 2013 semester Teaching Grants from the NFPA Education and Technology Foundation. Each grant will help strengthen interest in fluid power and help the Foundation in its efforts to attract some of the best and brightest students to our field.   The Foundation has awarded 28 teaching grants to 18 schools to date.  These awards align with our strategy to bring fluid power to as many students as possible through our growing list of educator members.

Following are brief overviews of each project:

Purdue University
Continuously Variable Hydraulic Transmission for a Small Wind Power Drive Simulator, Professor Jose Garcia

The goal of this project is to design and build a wind power drive train simulator fitted with a hydrostatic transmission. The primary objective is to develop a training tool that will allow students in the Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs to learn and apply the technical skills they would need in the field. During the design and construction process, the students will gain a valuable experience that will help them demonstrate that they have acquired the necessary skills they need for a job in industry.

The secondary objective is to help students learn about the benefits of using a continuously variable transmission in wind power and other drive train applications.

Specifically, this project seeks to build a station to simulate the drive train of a small scale wind power generator fitted with a variable hydrostatic transmission. Major benefits of this project include: First, to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of using variable transmissions in wind power or other mechanical drive trains. And second, to show the students that the transmission of power can be managed in a more efficient manner by incorporating hydrostatic continuously variable transmissions.

For this proposed training station, the students using the simulator will be able to reproduce the effect of real wind speed profiles by varying the RPM of the engine. The simulator will be fitted with thermocouples, pressure transducers and torque cells that will allow the students to measure the input and output power transferred by the system. In doing so, the students will learn to estimate the available power from the wind, how mechanical power is transmitted using a variable hydrostatic transmission and how that power can be converted into electricity. This training station will be used to support instructional laboratory activities in the Engineering Technology program at Purdue University in Kokomo, IN.
Marquette University
Fluid Power System and Control Module Development, Professor Kevin Craig

The objective for this project is to take the integrated knowledge already developed by the investigator and present it in a form readily accessible to students and practicing engineers. The development of a dozen modules, with voice and /or video, is possible with the funds requested, as the content, both academic and industry best practices, has already been gathered and integrated by the investigator.

In engineering design, a poorly designed physical system will never be able to give outstanding performance by adding a sophisticated controller. Similarly, traditional course content, even if delivered on line by the best lecturers in the world, is still just information, a commodity. The problem is not the delivery method; the problem is the content of the delivery.

Presently there are15 students in the course being taught. These are seniors and first-year graduate students. These modules will be used in lower-level undergraduate courses to motivate students to study fluid power systems and control and consider a career in this exciting field. The modules will also be used to attract practicing engineers to the Marquette University Department of Mechanical Engineering graduate program. As more students enroll and study fluid power systems, the creation of a fluid power systems and control laboratory at Marquette University becomes a real possibility.

Additional information about the spring 2013 Teaching Grants and previously awarded grants can be found at http://www.nfpafoundation.org/Grants/CurrentProjects.aspx. If you would like to learn more about the gift program, please contact Sue Chase at (414) 778-3376 or schase@nfpa.com