Assistant Prof. of Mechanical Engineering Karen Supan was accepted to participate in the New England Board of Higher Education’s (NEBHE) National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) funded project, Advanced Manufacturing Problem Based Learning (AM PBL) Program. In July 2014, she joined 31 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators from across New England for a five-day professional development institute held at Boston University, Boston, MA.
This fall, Supan worked with AM PBL alliance partner Sharron Prairie, a Williamstown Middle High School chemistry and physics teacher, to address an engineering challenge in their combined classrooms. Two dozen Norwich University mechanical engineering students joined 10 Williamstown High School junior and senior physics students for the project.
Together, the classes met twice, once at Williamstown and once at Norwich University. Both groups were tasked with solving a problem posed by FastCAP, a Boston-based manufacturer of ultracapacitors, devices that store far more electric power than standard capacitors and may one day compete with batteries as an energy storage solution. During the manufacturing of the energy storage devices, the company noticed clumping of the material on the substrate. The students were tasked with determining the cause of the problem and how to keep it from happening again.
Supan will field test another challenge in the spring semester and will participate in a capstone showcase workshop at Boston University in June 2015.
Top photo: Karen Supan (front row second from left) participates in a group discussion at the AM PBL Institute at Boston University.