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Real world experience: Warren grad designs access platform for Lycoming Engines

Photo provided to the Times Observer Tyler Gustafson, a Pennsylvania College of Technology engineering design technology student from Warren, designed an access platform for Lycoming Engines. Penn College welding students fabricated the structure from Gustafson’s design. An industrial engineer co-op student for Lycoming Engines since 2022, Gustafson began working full time for the company following his May 11 graduation.

A Warren native who graduated this spring from the Pennsylvania College of Technology engineered an access platform for a major producer of aircraft engines while a student.

He’s now an associate industrial design engineer with the firm.

Tyler Gustafson, a 2020 Warren Area High School, graduated this spring Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Design Technology from Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport.

At the request of Lycoming Engines, welding students fabricated an access platform for the company.

The design work fell to Gustafson.

Photo provided to the Times Observer As part of a class project, welding students at Pennsylvania College of Technology fabricated an access platform for Lycoming Engines that will span between two new Okuma LU-45 twin-turret lathes. The structure measures 190 square feet. About 40 students helped manufacture the aluminum platform. The design was completed by 2020 Warren Area High School graduate Tyler Gustafson.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity. I have learned a lot throughout this project,” Gustafson said. “This is the first time to design something this large that is being fabricated. I was able to use the materials I learned in the classroom and apply them out in industry. I am excited to see the platform implemented and used on the shop floor.”

Lycoming Engines requested the students’ work on the project, according to a release from Penn College.

“Lycoming manufactures piston engines that power more than half of the world’s general aviation fleet, both rotary and fixed-wing,” that release explained. ” The aluminum structure will span between two new Okuma LU-45 twin-turret lathes, which are intended to help expand Lycoming’s internal cylinder barrel manufacturing capacity.”

“The lathes are much larger than any other lathes currently utilized at Lycoming, which presented us with a work-loading challenge that we have never had to overcome before,” Tyler McCoy, senior project manager for Lycoming Engines said. “We needed to come up with a way to safely get the operator access to the internals of the machines for repetitive machine-tending activities.”

Gustafson has been working as a co-op student as a design engineer at Lycoming Engines since 2022.

“He clearly has a passion for design work, so when the challenge of installing our two new twin-turret lathes presented itself, I challenged him to come up with a solution,” McCoy said.

The assignment was handed down in December. He completed the initial design in January and the final proposal in February.

“As expected, he turned around a great design that met all the requirements,” McCoy said.

About 40 students in the Welding Blueprint & Layout II course then brought Gustafson’s design to life.

“When we ran our first article parts on the machine and did tool changes, we noticed that the turret on the Okuma would collide with the initial bridge design,” Gustafson said. “Given this, I had to come up with a bridge that could fold in half, still allowing the operator to step in and out of the machine for part reloading and tool changes.

“Within the redesign, I had to basically cut the bridge in half to allow for flexibility while also maintaining structural integrity.”

Software allowed him to test how the bridge would work under real-world conditions.

“It was cool to see something that I learned in the classroom, just this past year, be applied in industry so quick,” he said.

“Tyler’s design covers all the bases,” McCoy added. “It’s designed to improve safety; designed to meet the form, fit, function and cost requirements; designed for ease of maintenance; and designed for manufacturability.”

“This project clearly reflects the synergy between academic departments at Penn College and between the school and industry,” Bradley Webb, dean of engineering technologies, explained.

“We are very proud of our students’ efforts to provide a solution – in both design and fabrication – for a valued corporate partner such as Lycoming Engines.”

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