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Picture of Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill team and campus representatives.
Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill team and campus representatives: (l-r) Professor Jai Hong, Blake Cortis, Juan Meza, Greg Villareal, Greg Burkhardt, Cesar Campos, Professor Virgil Seaman, and Rafael Minas.

Students grind out high honors with pepper mill, camping stove
at WESTEC Manufacturing Challenge

Pictured: Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill.
Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill.

By applying the skills and knowledge they are learning through Cal State L.A.’s industrial technology program, two groups of CSULA students placed second and third for their innovative projects—the Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill and The Eagle Stove—at the WESTEC (Western Tool Exposition and Conference) 2012 Manufacturing Challenge.

The WESTEC challenge, cosponsored by Society of Manufacturing Engineers and held recently at the L.A. Convention Center, is an annual competition where college students design and build products for judging by manufacturing professionals.

Competing against 14 other participating colleges and universities, Cal State L.A.’s winning teams demonstrated outstanding manufacturing technology skills, teamwork and problem-solving abilities.

“With limited resources and time, our students did an excellent job in designing and manufacturing high-quality products,” said faculty adviser Jai Hong, associate professor of industrial technology at CSULA. “Judges were very impressed with the uniqueness of projects and the students’ knowledge, team work, and presentation skills.”

Pictured: The Eagle Stove team.
The Eagle Stove team: (l-r) Antonio Romero, David King, Steven Macias, and Karo Genanyan.

The Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill team, comprised of CSULA students Greg Burkhardt, Cesar Campos, Juan Meza, Rafael Minas and Greg Villareal, won second prize for creating a new technique to control the grinding process. The grinder incorporated food grade 17-4 precipitation-hardening stainless steel and acrylic materials, and a classy design, to meet Food and Drug Administration standards.

“Our goal was to improve the quality of controlling cracked pepper form and salt crystal size,” explained Campos, industrial technology major and leader of the Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill team. “We were challenged to manufacture a real product from initial concept to the actual prototype.”

The project, designed using 3D modeling, demonstrated various machining techniques, including computer numerical control machining, Wire EDM machining, and manual and automated late machining.

In addition to this honor, Campos indicated that they received compliments that the Cal State L.A. Pepper Mill will make an excellent restaurant or household product. He said, “One of the judges wanted to buy the grinder off us on the spot.”

Pictured: The Eagle Stove.
The Eagle Stove.

For The Eagle Stove team members Karo Genanyan, David King, Steven Macias and Antonio Romero, they won third prize for their eco-friendly and light-weight camping stove constructed from a combination of stainless steel and brass. The design concept was modeled after the Mountain Safety Research Whisperlite hybrid-fuel backpacking stove.

“This project showcased the expertise of each team member in design, manufacturing, time management, communication and team work,” said Macias, industrial technology major and leader of The Eagle Stove team. “It was a great experience to be part of developing an idea on paper to a fully-functional product. Also, it was pretty cool to be approached by individuals at the competition about actually purchasing our Eagle Stove for their camping trips.”

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Last Update: 04/18/2012