Date: June 13, 2013
Two engineering students, Robert Jewett, a senior studying mechanical engineering, and Atniel Quetz, who graduated in May with a BS in engineering, won honorable mention in the student category of the 2013 International Aluminum Extrusion Design Competition for their design, “Custom Contour Furniture.”
Jewett and Quetz’s design was one of more than 90 student entries, ranging from plans for a solar-powered outdoor bulletin board to a park bench that squeegees itself to sustainable refugee housing. The Andrews design duo created the plans for customizable furniture created out of a series of aluminum parts.
Jewett and Quetz’s design utilizes principles of extrusion, forcing heated metal out through a custom-shaped opening (like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube) that allows multiple copies of a part to be created.
The duo first heard of aluminum extrusion during an engineering class taught by Boon-Chai Ng, professor of engineering. Their classmates Andrew Roderick and Brian Booth had recently won a 3D redesign challenge, and their success inspired Jewett and Quetz to try their hand at competing too. Their first design was just a chair, but then they thought, “Why stop at the chair?”
Their submission to the contest ended up being a system of 12 interlocking aluminum parts that can be combined into a number of different furniture shapes, including several different tables and chairs. Because aluminum is rust-resistant and also aesthetically pleasing, the furniture can be used indoors or outdoors. Quetz and Jewett planned and designed the project in their spare hours last semester—“it was more or less a non-curricular activity, although the school was behind us the whole way,” says Jewett.
This May, 13 students’ designs were recognized with prizes of varying levels; Jewett and Quetz were awarded honorable mention and $250 for their “well-thought-out functionality of extrusion to create a system of parts that can be assembled into a variety of purposes,” said judge David Asher of Bonnell Aluminum in Newnan, Ga.
Jewett particularly enjoyed the experience and he hopes to do computer-aided design (CAD) for a company in the future. “There’s nothing more exciting than taking a concept and turning it into reality through the use of software,” he says. “As a future mechanical engineer I would like to work in the automotive field or other field dealing with outdoor recreation, and I particularly enjoy designing.”
The annual competition for students and professionals is sponsored by the Extrusion Technology for Aluminum Profiles Foundation (ET Foundation) and the Aluminum Extruders Council. The goal of the competition is “to promote the understanding and use of extruded aluminum profiles, as well as to highlight innovations and recognize excellence in aluminum extrusion design,” says the site’s website. For more information, visit www.etfoundation.org.