Connor Tucker, Antonio Russo, and Timothy (TJ) Joyce, all seniors and current mechatronics majors at SUNY Delhi, spent their Fall 2019 semester working alongside CHESS staff as student interns. The projects turned into much more than a resume-builder for the students, and into lasting contributions to the lab.
“This is the first year that we tried this internship, and it was immediately clear that the program at Delhi would fit nicely with the requirements and overall mission of CHESS,” said Arthur Woll, mentor for the students and Director of MSN-C. “People may see these contributions as credits toward a degree, but these projects at CHESS are real advancements towards the users’ experience.“
Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering, incorporating controlled electronics, mechanical and computer systems; all to adapt to the ever-evolving and intricate systems of everything in industry; from food processing and car-manufacturing to sustainability and space exploration. A particle accelerator like the one at CHESS, and the technology needed to drive it, is a perfect case-study for diverse mechatronics.
“CHESS was a perfect place for us to come,” says Tony. “We had a chance to use our skills that we learned at Delhi and adapt them to the diverse work areas at CHESS. The projects involved everything from the conceptual design to modeling and purchasing, all the way to the final assembling and commissioning,” he says.
One of the individual projects consisted of making the infrastructure more efficient for the newly constructed FMB hutch. This ease of access is most welcome in the tight confines of sensitive equipment.
The students did this by distributing nitrogen, helium, instrumentation cabling, and high voltage throughout the hutch. “I wanted to assemble these cable drops in such a way that the scientists and users could use the instruments effectively,” says Connor. “For this project I was able to draw up a lot of the knowledge in the past, and from schooling at Delhi.”
For the FMB beamline, TJ designed a stage that could house a 3D printing nozzle and bed. “We had to come up with a way that could move the nozzle and the bed independently,” TJ says. “And also have adjustability in the parameters as to how the print is coming out.” The stage has already been used to image 3D printing, and has also been modified by TJ to fit within other hutches.
The main project, which fully aligns with the mechatronics program, consisted of creating a detector table for the Structural Materials Beamline (SMB). Not just any table, as the requirements from the CHESS staff scientists and engineers were plenty. The table had to perform extreme (one-meter) translation in the Y axis, foot long translations in the X and Z axes , allow for fine adjustments within the hutch, not add to the overall height of the assembly, and be easily removable from the hutch.
To allow for quicker alignment for certain experiments, the staff also wanted the ability to relocate the table in the same exact spot, if and when it is removed from the hutch.
This assignment took the students from the design phase, right up to assembly, developing feedback from scientific staff, engineers, and previous detector table designs. They were also able to incorporate a lot of materials that were sitting around from the CHESS-U upgrade.
“We were involved with everything from concept to modelling to purchasing, and the assembling and commissioning of the table” says Connor, who also worked in the machine shop to make a jig to ensure that the overall mechanism for translation ran smoothly.
As time was winding down for the internship, the students cleverly created a way to position the table within the hutch.
“We came up with a simple assembly that ensures the table can accurately be relocated and commissioned after being removed from the hutch,” says TJ. “When the table is in place, right where the scientists want it, the table will be in the same exact place when it left.”
Arthur Woll is pretty excited about this prospect. “It is great to think about how much time will be saved by using this design, as opposed to manually aligning and adjusting the table,” Woll says. “Our users will reap the benefits of their student project.”
Plans for the future
Now that the students are back at Delhi, the students say that they are looking forward to graduating and exploring what the future has to offer.
Connor explains that he is excited to explore other areas of advanced manufacturing, where a mechatronics degree is highly sought after. Tony is excited to explore other areas of the US, saying that the location of a future project or career opportunity is a major contributing factor to his decision. This freedom of location also shows the great potential for pairing a mechatronics degree with the CV-building opportunities of CHESS.
TJ says that he really enjoyed the research and development atmosphere of the project. “The attitudes of the people, the excitement of science, and seeing things from concept to completion, it’s all very exciting,” he says. “I would like to find myself in an atmosphere like CHESS, or some sort of prototyping atmosphere where I can create something useful.”