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B.Tech. students present experiments to American Society for Quality Hamilton ChapterDecember 13, 2019

For 6 years running, Karen Lawrence's B.Tech. classes have had the opportunity to have members of the Hamilton chapter of the American Society for Quality judge their projects at a special showcase event.

Wednesday, November 20th marked the 6th student showcase event in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) at McMaster’s W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology.

Students from Karen Lawrence’s Quality Control and Assurance Methods course gathered to share projects they created which demonstrate the powerful tool in quality improvement called Design of Experiments (DOE). Members from the Hamilton ASQ chapter attended to judge the student’s presentations of the projects.

“The ASQ Student Quality Showcase gives students a productive and fulfilling opportunity to share academic work with industry professionals.  As an instructor, the event gives me the opportunity to observe the students joyfully discussing their experiments using new-found vocabulary that has seamlessly become part of their everyday lexicon.  I, and everyone else in the room, also get to see the people and professionals these students will soon become,” says Karen Lawrence.

What makes this event different from other academic competitions is that students were judged on the design and analysis of a statistical experiment regardless of the subject matter the group chose. Because of this, students could get creative and investigate questions across a wide variety of topics.

Judges and representatives from ASQ enjoyed seeing what students had produced. “The evening was truly a testament of collaboration and dedication.  Being in industry and having utilized Design of Experiments methodologies within the automotive industry, I can assure you these skills are vital to the success of Canadian industry. I felt the students were well prepared, well versed and engaged as a team to present their respective projects. Selecting the winners was taxing, to say the least. I trust we may continue this event in the future and hopefully expand its scope!” said Frank Battista, incoming Chair of ASQ Hamilton.

Here are the topics explored by the top three groups:

1st place: Group 7: Biodiesel Production

The group examined several factors that can affect the yield of biodiesel production. They compared two types of oil – saturated (ghee) and unsaturated (canola), and two different chemical additive conditions, along with two different heating conditions.

2nd place: Group 10: What’s poppin’ with un-popped corn?

The team examined one major question: How does the quantity of popcorn being popped, along with butter content and cooking time affect the proportion of kernels that pop reliably? Their study found that using 100 kernels rather than 300 kernels reliably increased the proportion of popped kernels.

3rd place: Group 1: The Optimal condition for achieving maximum dart throwing precision

This group examined various factors that can affect performance when throwing darts at a typical dartboard, including throwing with preferred hand, slight disorientation from spinning around before throwing, and distance from the board. We can easily anticipate better performance under these conditions but with the experiment we can quantify the improvement in performance.

Other groups explored topics including factors that can affect typing speed, factors that influence how a bouncy ball rebounds after a drop, as well as predictability of tuned automobile performance in a virtual simulation.

The students enjoyed the evening and the opportunity to share their projects with experienced professionals. “It was an amazing experience at the ASQ Showcase. Aside from winning first place, it was a very good way of getting feedback on our project. Thank you to all the judges, and our best motivator professor Karen Lawrence, who created this platform for us. I would really love to reconnect with the visitors and judges and talk with them about potential capstone projects in biodiesel production which are directly related to the industry,” said Nikhil Saini, a member from Biodiesel group.