School of Engineering Partners With Linamar
New course gives students opportunity to tackle real-world industry problems
BY DEIRDRE HEALEY
Rainwater harvesting, solar walls and a computerized tracking system are some of the new projects that will be implemented at a Linamar Corporation plant, thanks to U of G engineering students.
The School of Engineering has teamed up with the local auto manufacturer to create a program that gives students an opportunity to tackle real industry issues as part of a third-year course.
“This has huge benefits for the students because they're able to work on real-world problems in a realistic environment with time constraints, financial constraints and resource constraints,” says Prof. Medhat Moussa, who helped co-ordinate the program.
“Having this hands-on experience is especially valuable when it comes to design. Design is an area you can't just lecture about. You need to learn by doing it.”
A trial of the unique partnership was successfully completed during the winter semester with some 80 students participating, and there are plans to continue and expand the program this fall.
Linamar engineers gave students a list of problems facing the company. Student groups then chose a problem and were expected to come up with a design solution.
To help in developing their design, students had an opportunity to tour the company's Camtac plant, work with equipment prototypes and have ongoing communication with engineering manager Mike Minogue through a specially designed website.
One project involved designing a rainwater harvesting system for the Camtac plant. The plant uses large amounts of water to cool the equipment, so the students were asked to develop a system that could store rainwater, filter it and integrate it to replace municipal water.
Other projects included repairing the plant's vision system camera used to track parts flowing through the plant, developing overhead fixtures to help workers manoeuvre heavier parts along the assembly line without injuring themselves, and finding ways to incorporate solar energy into the plant.
The top proposed solutions were submitted to the company, and plans are already in place to implement a number of them, says Minogue.
“This program is mutually beneficial to the University of Guelph and to Linamar,” he says. “We get to access the exceptional resources at the University, and the students get the practical experience of working in an industrial environment.”