NJIT students take top awards at a national design contest

Two mechanical engineering students at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) spent a semester building a casting device that a paraplegic could use to cast a fishing line.

The students, John Kurdyla and Alejandro Perez, used switches, speed control, an electro-mechanical clutch and two 18-volt motors to build their casting device. All a disabled person need do to cast the line 30 feet is push a few buttons. And if he can't move his fingers, the buttons could be turned into a sip-and-puff technology.

"The elegance of John and Alejandro's casting device is its mechanical simplicity," said Harry Kountouras, a special lecturer of mechanical engineering at NJIT. "Paraplegics can't use their arms and legs but they can use their breath, and this device had switches that could connect to a sip-and-puff transducer. I think the device is so accurate and reliable that it could be marketed."

Kountouras isn't the only fan of Kurdyla and Perez's engineering skills. The two recently took first place in a National Design Contest sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The regional contest, held recently at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, was part of the society's annual Regional Student Conference.

It's the eighth time in the last 11 years that mechanical engineering students NJIT took first place in the national design contest, said Kountouras, who is the faculty adviser for the university's ASME student chapter. Another NJIT team took third place in the design contest and NJIT won other top awards during the conference. The first-place team -- Kurdyla, of Parsippany, and Perez, of Montclair -- won a trophy and $200. The two seniors also earned a trip to the ASME National Championship. The championship is part of the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, to be held this November in Chicago. The team will compete against winners from 13 other ASME regions.

The third-p

Contact: Robert Florida
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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