Navajo Technical University Students Explore Advanced Manufacturing

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Photo of the director of the Center for Precision Metrology, Chris Evans and NTU students Shane Tsosie and Wynona Wilson

UNC Charlotte’s Lee College of Engineering provided two students from Navajo Technical University’s Crownpoint, New Mexico, campus a summer opportunity to learn more about manufacturing and metrology.

Wynona Wilson and Shane Tsosie are seniors at Navajo Technical University (NTU) majoring in digital manufacturing. They spent three months exploring the technology and software of advanced measuring equipment.

“The visit came about because we were approached by NTU professor Scott Halliday, who is developing manufacturing and metrology capabilities to serve the Navajo Nation,” said Tony Schmitz, professor of mechanical engineering at UNC Charlotte. “We then visited NTU and came up with a plan to support some of their students here for the summer through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) supplement program. The purpose would be to learn metrology and manufacturing fundamentals that they would be able to transfer back.”

To learn these skills, Wilson and Tsosie took the classes MEGR 2156 Sophomore Design and MEGR 2180 Manufacturing Systems. They also performed a research project that involved state-of-the-art scanning metrology instruments to make and quantify precision measurements of test artifacts.

“When I first found out about this opportunity, I said ‘I’m going,’” Wilson said. “The experience was very different from what I was used to. It was actually pretty difficult at the start, but the people here gave us a lot of help, and we were able learn the technology. Now, we will have to teach others how to operate these machines when we get back home. It was a great experience.”

The technology they used included a ZeGage Scanning White Light Interferometer and EinScan 3D Scanner. Their research involved testing the performance of the equipment to determine what accuracy and repeatability could be achieved.

“The summer was very hectic but quite enjoyable,” Tsosie said. “With the help of everyone involved, we gained a lot of knowledge. We were able to really broaden our knowledge of scanning equipment and software.”

Schmitz said, “I think we accomplished what we set out to do. They walked away with some confidence they didn’t have before. They will be able to take back what they learned here and help implement its use at NTU.”

NTU’s Halliday said the exchange will be beneficial because the students will be able to help facilitate precision machining within the fabrication lab and help create a lab experience for NTU’s engineering-based programs.

“This was also a great experience for students,” he said, “because they will be able to share their knowledge with other students and faculty empowering them through this initial exchange. It is an important aspect of these programs to enable students to bring back and share knowledge with their community. NTU is hoping to continue the collaboration with UNC Charlotte in the areas of advanced manufacturing and metrology and expanding participation of students and faculty.”