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"Pedaling" green technology
Trine student project environment-friendly
"Green" is a buzz word in engineering education these days, as environmental issues storm the news front.
At Trine University in Angola, Ind., seniors in the Department of Engineering Technology (DET) grabbed a concept by the roots to grow a product and business plan that could flourish, with proper tending.
Assistant professor Thomas DeAgostino challenged his senior design students to engineer an innovative concept. After research, his students took the assignment a step farther by proposing a project that is not only innovative, but recyclable and renewable. Developing the concept of a “green” bicycle frame, the DET students found they could build a frame of bamboo, with lugged areas of easily recycled aluminum.
The result is an alpha prototype that proves their concept. At Trine, seniors in all engineering disciplines produce a project pulling together all of the concepts studied over their four undergraduate years. They then present the project at a senior design expo in the spring, along with a business and marketing plan.
“They looked at marketing and cost, and they feel the frame could be mass produced at a lower cost than what’s out there now,” DeAgostino said. While a handful of small craft companies produce bamboo frames for bike enthusiasts for over $1,000, Trine’s DET team determined that about 100 per month could be manufactured at a cost ranging from $500-1,000 each.
The plan melds green technology with a niche market, DeAgostino said. Coupling a target market of educated, environmentally savvy buyers, willing to pay for a customized bike frame, with the strength, accessibility, low expense and recyclability of bamboo and aluminum creates a viable business opportunity, the students propose.
The project provokes thought about the many ways engineering will impact the environment for good, as green technology develops. DeAgostino feels his students produced something special. “It’s a remarkable senior project,” he said.