The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation has awarded teaching grants to Lawrence Technological University and Montana State University. Each grant will stimulate interest in fluid power on these campuses and help the Foundation attract some of the best and brightest students to our industry.

Following are brief overviews of the grant awards:

Senior Capstone Project: A Gantry Crane Utilizing Fluid Power
Lawrence Technological University
Professors James Mynderse, Liping Liu and Selin Arslan

Senior students in Mechanical Engineering will design and build a gantry crane utilizing fluid power for material handling. The crane will be capable of supporting up to 50 pounds while moving across a simulated work space. Students will get a better understanding of fluid power while designing the crane actuation system. In addition, students will work on advanced modeling of mechanical components and systems and mechanical design. The resulting structure will provide a test bed for future projects on control theory and implementation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The proposed project will be administered as a capstone senior design project for the participating undergraduate students. All Lawrence Tech engineering students are required to complete a capstone project in their senior year in order to graduate. The project team will consist of three or four senior students.

Automation Lab
Montana State University
Professor Keith Fisher

The primary objective is to give students taking the Fluid Power Systems Design course at MSU a hands-on experience in designing, setting up, and testing various fluid power automation control systems, in conjunction with the classroom instruction and existing lab exercises. The present fluid power systems teaching lab at the Mechanical Engineering Department has a wide ranging selection of low-tech hydraulic and pneumatic lab setups which have allowed students to design, build, and test systems for manually and pilot controlled systems for the past seven years, test pump efficiency, and build numerous basic student projects.  The addition of this automation lab will provide experience on designing both PLC and PID feedback and servo controlled pneumatic systems.

Last year there were 35 Mechanical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Technology students in the course and its lab. Some additional students were turned away because of the lack of resources to teach additional lab sections.

Teaching grants are given twice a year, in the spring and fall. To date, the Foundation has awarded 29 grants to 19 different schools. Additional information about the Spring 2013 education grants and those previously awarded can be found here

If you would like to learn more about the grant program, please contact Sue Chase at (414) 778-3376 or