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UT machining students in matching orange team polo shirts pose with their winning quadrant of the S.E.C. logo.

Engineering Vols Clinch Inaugural SEC Machining Competition

A team of students from the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE) helped UT take first place in the inaugural SEC Machining Competition at UT’s new Manufacturing and Design Enterprise in Hardin Valley on Friday.

The event was the brainchild of MABE Professor Tony Schmitz, who was inspired to create a machining competition based on his experience playing college football.

“This competition is indicative of my entire research career,” said Schmitz. “I’ve spent 20 years thinking about machine tools and how to teach about them. When people think about the manufacturing workforce, they often think about people running equipment. That’s important, but I think about more: about people that design the equipment and the processes. The students that compete today, and the students we reach through events like this, will be reinvigorating US manufacturing by becoming the thought leaders, the company owners and the engineers that progress us forward.”

The event challenged teams of undergraduate and graduate students studying advanced manufacturing and advanced materials to use computer numeric controlled machines to create a quadrant of the SEC logo.

UT’s team was made up of mechanical engineering graduate students Emma Betters, Eli Charles, Aaron Cornelius, Gregory Corson, Ryan Garcia, Jose Nazario Moreno, Tobechukwu Nwabueze, Tyler Poon, Justin West graduate, and junior Mickenna Turner.

“The biggest factor is quality,” Cornelius said, previewing the competition. “The way points are rated—there are 270 points total and of that, 40 are attributed to things such as tool cost, cycle time and people in the work zone. The rest of the points relate to quality. So, if all teams produce accurate components it might come down to those other factors.”

Student-led teams from UT, Texas A&M University, Auburn University and Mississippi State University also competed in the event, which was made possible by the US Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program. Project MFG ran the competition with support from America’s Cutting Edge, IACMI–The Composites Institute, the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, the Gene Haas Foundation and MSC Industrial Supply Co. In addition, 20 professional organizations staffed tables with representatives to speak to visiting students about future manufacturing-related careers.

A full story on the event can be found on UT’s main news site.