Trailer Hitch Design Wins Grand Prize at National Convention

April 10, 2003

Kathleen McPartland
Leonard Falscheer, Manufacturing Technology

Trailer Hitch Design Wins Grand Prize at National Convention

Manufacturing Technology students from the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology at California State University, Chico took the grand prize in the WESTEC Advanced Productivity Exposition in the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 24, 2003.

WESTEC (Western Tool Exposition and Conference) is North America’s largest annual metalworking and manufacturing event. The competition sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers is titled the “Manufacturing Challenge.” The challenge consists of designing a product that can be manufactured, including the design, prototype, tooling and programming for all the components, assembly (can include robotic assembly), marketing and economic considerations if the product were to be produced in quantity, and the management of the project.

Engineering students Rick Parsons, Stacey Olsen, Robert Murillo, Joel Millard, Ryan Grant and team leader Dave Loogman won the best in show with their design of a trailer hitch insert. Their hitch is designed for a 2X2 receiver (Common to most pickup truck and SUVs) that contains a light, a red lens, and a logo mask. These are assembled into a cast aluminum housing that plugs into the trailer hitch to activate the light with the running and brake lights.

A unique characteristic of the trailer hitch design is that custom logos can be displayed and lit when wired to the running lights and/or brake lights of a vehicle.

The project included the design and computer numerical control manufacturing of the pattern for the cast aluminum body, the injection mold tooling for the plastic lens, and the fixtures and end-of-arm tooling for the three Adept robots. The robots are connected to a conveyor system and control the assembly pallets between the robots. The project also includes the use of an automated screwdriver to perform the final assembly of the unit.

Leonard Fallscheer, Department of Manufacturing Technology, was the adviser to the students and accompanied them to Los Angeles.

The results of the competition, in addition to Chico’s Grand Prize, were First Prize, Brigham Young University; Second Prize, San Jose State University; Third Prize California State University, Los Angeles. Other schools in the 4-Year College and University division were Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU, Long Beach and San Francisco State University.


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