TE Connectivity Partners with Senior Design to build "The Orange Box"

Monday, February 4, 2019

Automotive test team partners with UNC Charlotte engineering students to build “the orange box”

Over the past year, the Automotive team in Winston-Salem, North Carolina partnered with a team of engineering students from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Charlotte to design and fabricate a new pressure wash testing chamber to assess TE-manufactured automotive components. The collaboration on the senior design project began last summer and lasted throughout the past two semesters. The new chamber, nicknamed "the orange box," was created to be more ergonomic and leak-proof than the previous test chamber, and simulates common automotive environments such as a high-pressure car wash.

The Winston-Salem Automotive Product Assurance Services (PAS) test facility ensures the sealing features and mechanisms of TE's manufactured automotive components are working properly before shipping to the customer. The chamber tests the sample by spraying the component with hot water through high pressure nozzles with a variety of different operating settings. In comparison to the old testing chamber, the new equipment provides reporting data back to the engineers, including water temperature, water pressure at each nozzle, water flow rate, turntable speed, and the amount of time each nozzle was spraying. In addition to the new chamber, the lab has invested in a new all-electric pressure washer to supply the water to the chamber. This allows full compliance with TE's Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) standards. The complete test system will be available for lab use after the installation details are finalized, expanding the lab's capabilities.

UNC Charlotte (UNCC) engineers go outside the classroom for Senior Design Exposition

The team of seven mechanical and electrical engineering students from UNCC selected this project from dozens of choices from the initial description TE provided. They saw this project as a great opportunity to come up with a real-world application of their schooling. They worked together using almost every discipline they had been exposed to in school and learned some new ones along the way. They learned valuable lessons in time management, communications, and project management, but perhaps the most valuable lessons for them came from learning to be flexible and dealing with problems effectively.

After one semester designing the new test equipment and one semester fabricating it, the student team presented it on-campus at the UNCC Senior Design Exposition in early May. In a sea of competing projects and flip charts dotting the event, the team's orange structure stood out and attracted a lot of attention as there was chatter throughout the building about "the orange box." The TE chamber was selected as one of ten finalists among the nearly 50 projects displayed at the expo. A panel of independent judges from local industry and other project sponsors evaluated the top ten displays. The projects were judged on elements such as professionalism, meeting the design criteria and engineering ability, and the UNCC and TE project placed second. Just as important, TE received a great deal of positive exposure in the local engineering and educational communities.

Strengthening the next generation of TE engineers

The project was sponsored by Chris Handy, manager of the Winston-Salem PAS lab. The student team was mentored by Don Grisgraber, test engineer in the PAS lab. Don has been a strong mentor to the student team, guiding them in the design and fabrication. Randy Logan of TE Facilities Services South was instrumental in assisting with fabrication, using his talents and experience to keep the project on-schedule. Max Jackson in TE's Winston-Salem Model Shop assisted with component fabrication. The UNCC student team included Alexander Ossowski(team leader), Luke Pascall, Isaac Smith, Babiker Suliman, Aaron Menchini, Zachary Darnell, and Kolton Baer. The UNCC faculty mentor was Dr. Thomas Koch.

This project is part of a longstanding partnership and commitment to the UNCC engineering program, of which Automotive's Tim Collard, vice president of Finance, is the executive sponsor. Just in the past year, TE has hired three engineers from the university, and several interns have joined the TE team in Winston-Salem for the summer. Overall, TE's university partnerships help build a talent pipeline that is crucial for innovation and company growth. TE engineers regularly attend career fairs and university events to tell our story to the next generation of engineers to provide students with real-world experience in the industry, which leads some to start their careers with TE. You can visit the UNCC Senior Design website for additional information about the program. Thank you to Chris, Don, Randy, Max and Tim for their time and mentorship, and congratulations on the team's second-place win!