Northern Michigan University students are helping out the United States Luge Association (USLA) with a project they were assigned in class.
Students in MF 263 Advanced CNC Operations class have been assigned to make gauges check the measurements of the running edges of a luge sled. Dennis Guertin, international luge race official, of Marquette, to NMU with the task of making these gauges.
“I was in Park City, Utah and the necessary gauges that we needed weren’t there,” Guertin said. “We had some gauges that were manufactured pretty much for instructional use only and they’re not as accurate as our normal measuring gauges.”
When Guertin found out that there were not any gauges in Park City, he went to the National Luge Federation in Lake Placid, N.Y. to ask why they didn’t have the appropriate equipment, he said. After coming back from Park City Guertin asked Cale Polkinghorne, instructor of manufacturing technology, to make the gauges for the USLA.
“He of course wanted to see the gauges,” Guertin said. “I had a set of instructional gauges at my house and brought them in. I said to him, if you’re really interested in making these, I can get the aluminum one sent out from Lake Placid.”
Polkinghorne was very receptive to the idea of making the gauges and thought that it would make a good project for his class, Guertin said. Polkinghorne split the class up into groups and each group had to make a specific gauge.
“They had to design a fixture to make 20 of each of the three (gauges),” Polkinghorne said. “What we did is we started programming them on the CNC machine and then we started cutting them out.”
CNC stands for computer numerical control. The machine reads G and M code and then cuts the gauges out of the metal. The metal that the gauges are made of was donated to the class by Superior Extrusion, Inc. in Gwinn, Mich.
“The nice thing about this project is normally for a CNC class like this, we’ll end up using a lot of material that really isn’t used for anything,” Polkinghorne said. “With (this project) I was able to give (the results) to give the (gauges) to somebody and not just throw them away.”
Ben Sondgerath, a third year mechanical engineering technology major, has been working with his group on this project for the past four to five weeks. He likes the hands-on side of manufacturing instead of sitting at a desk, Sondgerath said.
“I think it’s important that the school has a connection with the community and this is a good way to do it,” Sondgerath said. “We’re making something for the community and students are getting good experience working with a customer as it would be in the industries.”
Guertin is taking the gauges himself to the USLA annual meeting in New York on June 11. The gauges will be distributed to the couches of the national and junior luge teams.
“The corporation I’ve had with Northern and Cale Polkinghorne in the machine shop there has been outstanding,” Guertin said. “The corporation I’ve had and the workmanship I’ve had from the students has been outstanding as well.”