In the fall of 2022, University of Wisconsin-Madison materials science and engineering students Anna Janicek, Simon Roemig, Sarah Tang and Griffin Tong formed a team for their capstone course. While the project, a two-semester requirement for seniors, helped pull together their years of MS&E coursework, it was also an opportunity for each of them to put their individual talents to work.
The students were acquaintances from MS&E classes who had collaborated on previous assignments. Each brought a unique set of skills to the team. Janicek, for instance, had experience with mechanical testing and materials production. Roemig, who worked in the lab of MS&E Assistant Professor Dan Rhodes, had a strong background in metrology, spectroscopy and data analysis. Tang’s strong suit is communication, and she had broad experience in materials testing from four materials science internships. Tong, who worked in the lab of MS&E Associate Professor Jason Kawasaki, had experience with electrical property testing and instrument interface programming.
The team chose as its client a fast-growing Wisconsin-based additive manufacturing startup which creates filaments for 3D printing metal components. In consultation with the company, the team decided to capitalize on its strengths and set up experimental procedures for testing parts printed using the company’s products.
Over the course of their first semester, they outlined their testing protocols, developed a combination of mechanical, electrical conductivity, and optical tests, and adapted American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards to work with the product and available testing equipment. They also set up unique analysis protocols to accommodate the needs of the additive manufacturing samples. “That was sort of the challenge at the very beginning. We had to figure out what the constraints of the project were and what was feasible,” says Tong.
During the second semester, the team tested copper and bronze items printed with the filaments, adapting their testing and methods to accommodate new products and iterations the company manufactured. In the end, the team produced a detailed sets of physical materials data on some of the company’s various products.
Each team member’s takeaway from the experience was different. Tong, who has been accepted to graduate school, says he appreciated getting some extra hands-on experience designing and setting up experiments for the group. Tang, who has a job lined up as a patent engineer with Foley & Lardner LLP in Boston, Massachusetts, says she liked the opportunity to collaborate so closely with a group of her peers, and appreciated the experience of working and communicating with a client.
Roemig, who after graduation is going on to be a process engineer with Tokyo Electron Limited in Chaska, Minnesota, says he also appreciated the close collaboration and gained experience in long term project collaboration and utilizing the diverse strengths of the team. Janicek, who was recently hired as a materials engineer at the aerospace firm Pratt & Whitney, says being in control of the project is what was most impactful for her. “We really got to decide how we wanted to execute the project and achieve the results we wanted to see. Designing the entire process is something, in general, we haven’t gotten to do before,” she says. “We had the opportunity to be creative from start to finish.”
Featured image caption: From left, seniors Griffen Tong, Anna Janicek, Sarah Tang and Simon Roemig brought together years of materials science and engineering coursework for their capstone project testing materials for an additive manufacturing company. Credit: Joel Hallberg.