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Design Competition: 2009 Student Winners
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2009 International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition

Student Class Winning Entries

There were a total of 59 entries received from college and high school students across the country studying design and engineering. Scholarships were given for first, second, and third place, as well as the Hydro Sustainable Design Award. Additionally, four honorable mentions were given, among which one such honor went to a high school student for the first time in the history of the design competition. Judges were as follows:

  • Joseph Benedyk, Research Professor in Mechanical Materials and Aerospace Engineering department at Illinois Institute of Technology, and contributing editor for Light Metal Age magazine
  • Jack Miller, President Sapa Extrusions, Inc.
  • Craig Werner, Aluminum Extrusion Council Chairman, owner Werner Extrusion Solutions, LLC

Judge's comments: "This year's design competition winners came up with practical, innovative uses for extrusions which take advantage of the inherent design flexibility, aesthetics, and process/material capabilities of aluminum extrusuions," said Werner. "It's always encouraging and invigorating to see the unique designs and uses of aluminum extrusions that students develop. As an industry we understand the tremendous advantages we offer, but further translation of these into growing market opportunities is important for the long term growth and health of our industry."

"And not to be forgotten, kudos to all the students and their mentors—teachers and parents—for their efforts in solving some down-to-earth problems and creating innovative product ideas with aluminum extrusions," said Benedyk. "Considering the value of the experience students gain in thinking about the ways in which aluminum extrusions can make their ideas come to life, everyone is a winner in our book."

First Place: $3,500

Elbow Saver Dry-Eraser
Submitted by: Caleb Vainikka; Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
School: North Hennepin Community College; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mechanical dry-eraser that rides in a track at the top and bottom of a dry erase board. As the user pulls the eraser across the writing surface, three eraser heads oscillate vertically to actively clean the board.

Inspired by Vainikka's desire to help his former aging calculus professor faced with having to erase an entire board by hand with his small foam erasers, the Eblow Saver Dry-Eraser was designer's way of repaying his professor. The system consists of three major parts: the upper track, lower track, and a rectangular tube that houses the mechanics of the eraser. He designed the system to fit any length of dry-erase board and gave it a clean, sharp look featuring a brushed aluminum case for the eraser mechanics.

Judge's comments "I especially found his entry noteworthy, not just from the functionality and potential marketability standpoint, but also in terms of originality and presentation," commented competition judge Dr. Joe Benedyk. "His conceptual write up addressed many issues that a potential customer or client might have about his product and design." The other judges agreed. "Mr. Vainikka saw a problem," said Jack Miller. "By combining the light weight and bright surface characteristics of aluminum with the forming capabilities of the extrusion process, he turned that problem into an opportunity. The Elbow Saver is a unique, creative solution, designed to tackle one of the everyday class room problems." Craig Werner commented, "For over 25 years, I have used the image of an extruded aluminum chalkboard tray when describing our process; how fitting that this year's winner should design an enhancement to this fundamental tool used throughout academia."

Second Place: $2,000

Cirque Retail Display Unit
Submitted by: Sydney Minnis; Sophomore, Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

A new approach to retail display using the light weight and strength of aluminum.

According to designer Sydney Minnis, the modern looking Cirque retail display unit's rounded design allows for customizable shelving that can be connected to cover any distance or height.

Judge's comments: "All of the design competition judges could envision Sydney Minnis's concept used throughout higher end retail displays and offered for use in modern home decorative shelving applications," noted Werner. "The clean, circular design takes exceptional advantage of the aesthetic opportunities available through the use of aluminum extrusions." Miller thought Minnis' design "best utilized the extrusion process to create a design that was functional, flexible, and attractive. The interlocking clips were a unique feature that allowed the Cirque unit to be combined into nearly any

Third Place: $1,000

Raise Floating Dock
Submitted by: Steve Duffin; Sophomore, Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

A more user-friendly floating dock design that is affordable, portable, and low maintenance with aesthetics that move away from the traditional floating dock materials of fiberglass and wood.

Designer Steve Dufin developed his design based on knowledge he had with boating. "All over the world, people are attracted to build houses by the water, so naturally there is a big market for small personal watercraft," explained Duffin. "What they all need is a dock. [Currently] available docks are usually permanent and difficult to install without professional knowledge and equipment. I wanted to create something that anyone with a free afternoon and access to a pick-up truck could install." His design features aluminum extruded sections that are injected with foam to be "nearly unsinkable" and easily connected with a rod. The system offers durability, mobility, and long life, according to the designer.

Judge's comments: The judges felt his design utilized aluminum extrusion's hollow shape to full advantage. "The use of aluminum extrusions in marine environments isn't new, but Steve Duffin's simple design of this docking system, incorporating the structural properties of aluminum extrusions, the non-slip surface and the inclusion of closed cell injectable foam ‘floatation' into the cavities of the extrusion could well be a commercial success in the marketplace," said Werner. Jack Miller agreed. "Mr. Duffin demonstrated that his design was easily adjustable in width as well as length and the profile also helped protect buoyancy. New solutions for an old problem," said Miller.

Hydro Sustainable Design Award: $2,500

Submitted by: Daniel Schaumann; Senior, Materials Engineering & Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

Alumi-Cooler is a liquid-to-air intercooler used as a heat exchanger in automotive applications. While liquid-to-air intercoolers exist on the market today, this one-piece design can be extruded to a desired length to fit various engine sizes and cooling needs. This saves fuel, and thus reduces greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.

Used as a heat exchanger in forced induction automotive applications, the Alumi-Cooler design is a liquid-to-air intercooler device whose one-piece extruded aluminum core design, with two internal side-by-side chambers, would replace the current multicomponent bar-and-fin design, which typically requires a welded tank. The cross-sectional profile of the extrusion was designed to maximize the surface area between the aluminum and the two fluids, according to designer Schaumann. "With more surface area between the two fluids, heat transfer can occur at a much greater rate, resulting in an overall greater temperature drop in the air. In general, the system uses aluminum's relatively large heat transfer coefficient to efficiently accomplish the task of cooling air with an overall goal of producing more power in forced induction engines," the student explained.

Judge's comments: "There were a number of quality entries this year," commented Lynn Brown, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hydro Aluminum in Linthicum, Maryland. "In the end, one entry stood out—both for the way it addressed sustainability issues and the originality of the application and the design solution." According to Brown, the new design takes full advantage of aluminum's inherent heat transfer properties and design possibilities that the aluminum extrusion process provides. "And, the Alumi-Cooler would allow smaller engines to run more efficiently and generate more power, thereby reducing fuel consumption. This fits well with the overall goal of the Hydro Sustainability award for societal benefit," said Brown.

Honorable Mentions

Submitted by: David M. Lewchanin III; Sophomore, Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

Extruded aluminum stand-on training wheel peg.

Designer Lewchanin commented that "Parents can teach their children how to ride a bike while being on the bike and having fun at the same time."

Submitted by: William Mecker; Sophomore, Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

Portable water purification system that uses aluminum extrusion's properties of heat transfer, heat exchange, and linear extrusion.

According to designer William Mecker, "The product uses basic scientific properties to separate harmful particles and bacteria from pure drinking water in almost any setting. Aquafire can be used in situations of emergency as well as instances of convenience."

Submitted by: Eric Chalko; Junior, Industrial Design
School: Purdue University; West Lafayette, Indiana

Aluminum extruded access ramp for vehicles.

This hinged pull-out ramp slides along a tradck that is bolted to the floor of a vehicle, such as a van. "The lightweight aluminum material makes it easy to story away and without the need to install electronics this particular ramp is reliable and easy to install and remove again," Chalko noted.

Honorable Mention: High School

Because there were a record number of eight high schools submitting entries to the 2009 Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition, for the first time in the history of the competition, the judges decided to recognize one entry that stood out from the rest.

Extruded Door
Submitted by: Akil Patel; Junior
School: Bartlett High School; Bartlett, Illinois

Extruded aluminum door designed with hollow sections to be filled with insulation, lowering heating and cooling costs.

As noted in Patel's entry form, the hollow sections of this design can be filled with insulation, lowering heating and cooling costs while the width of the door can easily be changed by adding another section.

Judge's comments: "Utilizing the interlocking capabilities of extrusions allowed Akil Patel to increase the width efficiently to form a lightweight, high strength solution to a 'heavy' problem," commented competition judge Jack Miller.