MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Anna Kate Jackson stole the show halfway through the recent MTSU Engineering Technology Mech-Tech, an end-of-the-semester student project expo. That happens when children or animals move into the picture, literally.
Jackson, 3, of Lebanon, Tennessee, found herself on an up-and-down free ride — an automated forklift — designed and built by her father, J.R. Jackson and mechatronics engineering teammates Thomas Tziahanas, Chris Arnold, Arsany Ebrahim and Kylan Burse. The child became the center of attention and an immediate photo opportunity.
Their collaboration was among several dozen Engineering Technology and mechatronics senior projects on display during the event, held Dec. 2 in the Sam H. Ingram Building’s MT Center on Middle Tennessee Boulevard. The expo was a celebration of the completion of their hands-on ventures.
Regarding the automated forklift, J.R. Jackson said it had been a very challenging endeavor, but, overall, a very good project.
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“Some of the challenges we ran into were being able to lift the required amount, which was about 25 pounds,” he said. “As you can tell from the lifting of one of my children, it can lift about double what our original estimate was.
“We also ran into challenges with some of the motors for the wheels. The current motors and wheels are actually from my kids’ Power Wheels toys, so I robbed those from them to put on our cart.”
Jackson, who works at Nissan in Smyrna, Tennessee, said it was a two-semester project for the group.
“It went from a simple cart that we drove around to learn how to follow a line and how to program it to a separate fork system that wasn’t connected to finally we had to combine the two into one machine and make all of it happen,” he said. “It all happens automatically. It will follow a line, pick up a cart, determine a location and then either drop it off in a floor location or a one-meter high shelf.”
All five will graduate Saturday, Dec. 11, during MTSU commencement ceremonies in Murphy Center. He said all of them are employed or have landed jobs in industry.
Students in the Experimental Vehicles Program brought two of their Baja projects to Mech-Tech. EVP students also design and build solar boats and lunar rovers for competitions.
To learn more about Engineering Technology and its variety of undergraduate and graduate programs and mechatronics engineering, visit https://www.mtsu.edu/et or call 615-898-2776.