One of the longest running Parker Motion and Control Laboratories (PMCL) is supported by the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Akron (UA). It was established more than 25 years ago in 1994 with hydraulic and pneumatic trainers. Since the dedication of the PMCL, Akron has experimented with several different Parker products such as our PID controllers (electronic modules). In later years, the university upgraded to more sophisticated controllers such as the PMC-100 controller followed by Compax3 controller for hydraulic motion control. Today, their emphasis in the lab is focused on the Parker Automation Controller (PAC) based flexible manufacturing cell control. PAC units provide a lot of flexibility in the lab in terms of availability of several programming languages, as well as their capabilities to handle vision based feedback for motion control. This transition was implemented due to the shift in evolving technology, which allows students to work on practical, real world experiments.
Each mechanical engineering student runs at least one motion and control experiment in the Parker lab. This experiment is part of the required course “Mechanical Engineering Laboratories.” In addition, other required courses such as “Senior Design,” “Control System Design” and “System Dynamics and Response” also make use of the lab. Each year approximately 200 graduating seniors run at least one motion and control experiment, which not only enhances their classroom learning but also exposes them to different Parker technologies.
The Parker Lab also serves as a design and manufacturing location for the NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge Competition. Student design teams participate in this competition every year since it began - almost 15 years ago. Students sign up for the required “Senior Design” course while they work on this project. When Parker originated this competition, we called it affectionately the “Parker Chainless Challenge.” Akron will attend this year’s challenge, let’s all wish them well!
This article was contributed to by Valencia Rucker, market manager-university, Parker Hannifin Corporation.
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