ISE Senior Engineering Project team awarded patent
A Fall 2013 Senior Engineering Project team has just been awarded a patent for their project for Spartan Tool, LLC: "Jetter Hose Distance Counter Design."
Senior Design is the capstone course of the ISE undergraduate majors, the culmination of four years of coursework. The course allows student groups to work on real engineering problems with real companies.
One group, students Matthew Anderson, Kevin T. Dineen, and Hannah Thomas, teamed up with Spartan Tool to create an item that has gone from senior project to saleable product.
Spartan Tool charged the group with creating a tool called a jetter hose footage counter. Jetter hoses are used to excavate blockages in sewer pipes, but there is no way to know where and how much of a hose is in a sewage pipe at a time. The Spartan Team’s project was to remedy this situation by creating a device that calculates this distance, and displays it to the jetter hose’s operator.
The counter had to be waterproof, resettable, able to display both feet and meters, and retrofittable to all types of jetter hose reels—all within a budget of $500.
As with any engineering project, there were some setbacks, including a long battle with parsing out the algorithm to display the amount of hose paid out at any given time and getting those measurements displayed on the screen itself. With long nights in the lab, the team ultimately succeeded in creating a working jetter hose counter.
“Many times throughout the semester I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it through, but... if I just kept working and remained focused, everything worked out,” Hannah Thomas said.
“[The counter] uses retrofitted functions based on the rotations of the reel the hose is kept on based on the jetter pump model, hose size, and hose length to calculate length,” says Thomas.
Spartan Tool is currently selling the team’s product on their website, and the group is waiting to hear about the status of some patents they filed.
“Knowing there was nothing out there regarding this type of product, starting from scratch, working all the kinks out, seeing something we design being marketed all within half a year, it’s an amazing feeling like no other; that’s why I became an engineer,” Anderson said.
The Spartan Team’s tenure at the University of Illinois may be over, but its members are off to do some great things. Thomas is currently working as an operations engineer for Medline Industries with plans for a master’s degree, and Andersen is working as a mechanical design engineer for Ingersoll Machine Tools. Kevin Dineen was recruited as a Project Engineer at Spartan Tool, LLC.
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