sealPurdue News

November 15, 2002

Purdue technology students' project a safe bet at automation fair

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A group of Purdue University students will roll the dice on their latest project during a national trade show that features top examples of industrial automation.

The Purdue team, from the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Technology program, will demonstrate its dice-playing interactive automation project on Wednesday and Thursday (11/20-21) at the Rockwell-Allen Bradley Automation Fair in Anaheim, Calif.

Brad Harriger, the mechanical engineering technology professor leading the program, said the exhibit is a roll of the dice that has a big payoff – exposure for Purdue and a sure bet that students will learn a lot about the field of industrial automation.

"The fair is a great showcase for Purdue's School of Technology and a great opportunity for students who worked on the display equipment that we will demonstrate at our fair booth," he said.

The 11th annual fair is a trade show with international scope that serves as a free educational forum, featuring new industrial automation products and services from Rockwell Automation, a $4.3 billion global industrial automation company, and its corporate partners.

Although Purdue professors have attended the fair as participants and observers, this is the university's first time as an exhibitor. Purdue was among the top schools invited to the fair because of strong partnerships or recruiting ties with Rockwell Automation, Harriger said. In fact, other Purdue students, though not involved in the demonstration project, will attend the fair as Rockwell guests.

Harriger, who spent a sabbatical with Rockwell during 2000-2001, said he hopes the team's presence will be good for the entire university.

"We have made a commitment to represent Purdue as a whole, but focusing on those areas and programs that have the closest links to Rockwell Automation and their partners," he said. "We will do our best to spread the word about what Purdue is doing, beyond the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Technology program and other related programs in the School of Technology. We also will try to promote projects and opportunities that exist in other areas of the university."

The Purdue team hopes to draw attention with a machine that demonstrates the power of robotics, controls, vision systems and logic programming.

Harriger said the automated unit's dice game is a new addition that was completed just in time to be introduced at the fair. Harriger supervised the design and building of the unit over the past year with the help of Mark R. Copeland, who is the school's automation systems manager, and students.

All of the students are majors in Purdue's Computer Integrated Manufacturing Technology program, which focuses on automated manufacturing and materials handling and teaches the use of computers in design, machining and manufacturing products, as well as quality and process control.

The students who worked on the project and who will accompany Harriger and Copeland to Anaheim are: Rick Lemberg, of Syracuse, Ind.; Chris Noble, of Munster, Ind.; Tia Pesko, of Indianapolis; and Melissa Beyer, of Mount Vernon, Ind.

"Our students have played a very important role in the success of this device," Harriger said.

"The unit's purpose is three-fold. We have designed it to assist in student recruiting, to assist in attracting industry partners and employers, and to serve as a possible portable educational tool for K-12 engagement activities."

Harriger said the unit's game components were designed to educate through entertainment.

"The demonstration unit is an interactive experience currently equipped with two fun activities that demonstrate automation equipment in an entertaining way. In addition to the new interactive robotic dice game, another activity includes an interactive robotic shape sorter.

"Ultimately, the objective of these 'fun' activities is to demonstrate how the integration of computer-aided manufacturing devices can be employed to better serve customer needs with the most efficient manufacturing processes possible."

Henry Kraebber, professor in the school's mechanical engineering technology program and the computer integrated manufacturing technology program, and Gerald Thomas, director of development for School of Technology, also will represent Purdue in Anaheim.

Rockwell Automation employs about 23,000 people at more than 450 locations, serving customers in more than 80 countries.

The automation fair is one of the largest company-sponsored trade shows for industrial automation, with exhibits from Rockwell Automation's major product and service areas – including Allen-Bradley, Rockwell Software and other partners. The fair also provides career development learning opportunities through more than 100 exhibitors, educational forums, hands-on labs and technical sessions on wireless technologies, motion control, Ethernet and other industry-related topics.

Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Source: Bradley C. Harriger, (765) 494-7515,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Journalists interested in photographing or videotaping the automated dice game demonstration unit when it returns to Indiana should contact Grant Flora at the Purdue University News Service at (765) 494-2073,

Related Web sites:
Purdue School of Technology
Rockwell Automation Fair

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