Lots of tinkering goes into creating Design Expo product

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Justin Bunzeluk and Jacob Sellhausen look over the pedal/electric bicycle they developed Thursday at the Michigan Technological University Design Expo. Behind them are team members Katie May Birach, left, and Sarah Pugh. Not seen is team member Jacob Rissi.

HOUGHTON — Many of the projects displayed at this week’s Michigan Technological University Design Expo have narrow target audiences, but one project to develop a bicycle powered by both pedaling and an electric motor could be targeted to a wider general audience.

The Senior Design team, which made the electric bicycle, consists of Katie May Birach, Justin Bunzeluk, Sarah Pugh, Jacob Rissi and Jacob Sellhausen, all mechanical engineering technology majors.

Sellhausen said teams were given a list of possible projects for the Design Expo.

“We were interested in doing an electric bicycle,” he said.

Bunzeluk said the team began design work on the project last semester, and began construction in January. Their bicycle is about half again as long as a standard bicycle, which was done to accommodate two 12-volt batteries they originally intended to use.

However, Bunzeluk said, those batteries were too heavy.

“They’re 75 pounds apiece,” he said. “That’s 150 pounds.”

The team settled on two smaller batteries, which weigh about 10 pounds for both, Bunzeluk said.

Pugh said the team worked many hours on the project.

“We worked four to five hours each week,” she said.

Besides designing the bicycle, Bunzeluk said they also did the construction.

“Nobody in the shop helped us,” he said.

Birach said not all of the bicycle has newly-fabricated parts.

“There’s some repurposed parts,” she said.

An existing bicycle’s frame was cut in half, and a center section was added to accommodate the larger batteries.

Bunzeluk said the bicycle can either be pedaled or run on the electric motor, which currently can get up to 16 mph. The goal is to eventually get to go 26 mph.

With the smaller batteries, Bunzeluk said the frame can be made much shorter. The team is already working on that and other changes in the design for the bicycle.

Leonard Bohmann, Tech associate dean of the College of Engineering, said the Design Expo is a program of the Tech Pavlis Honors College, which is different from honor’s college’s at other universities, most of which are based on a students grade-point average.

“Our honor’s college is open to all students,” he said.

Pavlis Honors College requires students do an honors project, such as and Enterprise of Capstone project, Bohmann said.

One of the more narrowly-focused projects was for a software company looking for a way to train employees to be able to work on hardware, according to Senior Design team member Austin Ostipow.

“They’re trying to broaden their training,” he said.

Other team members for that project are Branden DeVries, Andrew Dorton and Richard Fowler.

Ostipow said the company for which their project was developed, A&D Technology, gave them the dimensions of a briefcase-sized piece of equipment, which can be used for training employees.

“We came up with a lot of things we thought would be useful,” he said.

DeVries said the team has been working closely during the project with the corporate sponsor.

“They know exactly what’s going on,” he said.

DeVries said the team is also developing an operating manual for the device.