Machine Design

Backtalk 05/20/10

CAGI award winners
A team of engineering students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison walked away with this year’s top prize in the 2009-2010 National Innovation Award contest sponsored by the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (CAGI).

Team WALKS design uses compressed air to power a “Weight-assisted lifting and kinesthesia system” (WALKS) to assist physical therapy and rehabilitation patients by supporting up to 90% of their body weight while promoting a natural walking motion. Mentored by CAGI member Titus Mathews of Pneumatech Inc., students Axel Dahlberg, Jonny Jordan, Stefanie Knauf, Pat Verstegen received a $2,500 prize, and $8,000 went to their advisor Heidi-Lynn Ploeg for the school’s mechanical-engineering department.

According to the judging panel, Team WALKS design “recognizes the need and opportunity for this type of device to help reduce the escalating costs of health care.”

Second place went to Team Spin Zone from Buffalo State College for their “Onboard vehicle-compression storage system,” which uses a double-acting cylinder to capture and store energy from a vehicle’s suspension system. The $1,500 prize went to team members Brad Wargula, Kenny Stafford, Matt Geil, Jason Zaepfel, Sara Ward and Miles Williamson, and faculty advisor Dr. David Kukulka received $4,000 for the school’s mechanical-engineering department. CAGI member, Ed Czechowski, of Cameron Compression, mentored the team.

The invitation-only Innovation Awards are designed to honor undergraduates for innovative use of compressed air.

Centennial celebration
Wieland Electric is celebrating its 100th year of developing plug-and-play electrical interconnect products. Friedrich Wieland founded the family run business in October 1910 in Bamberg, Germany. In 1990, a U.S. subsidiary, Wieland Electric Inc., began operating in Burgaw, N.C. The company’s “Contacts are Green” motto demonstrates their commitment to innovative environmental practices.

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