OGDEN, Utah – Eight Weber State University students graduating this spring are putting the finishing touches on a senior project that will teach grade school children about the importance of wearing seat belts.
The students have spent nearly a year conceptualizing, designing and building the seat belt convincer—an outreach tool for Utah Highway Patrol that vividly illustrates the importance of wearing seat belts.
“The Convincer” features two separate single-occupancy carriages atop a 26-foot flatbed trailer. The steel frame carriages, which bear a resemblance to jeeps, have drive trains that allow them to collide with each other at a speed of 5 m.p.h. This is the third generation of the convincer for UHP, and the first to feature two separate carriages or vehicles that can collide.
The student team includes manufacturing engineering technology students Eric Griguhn, of Salt Lake City; Brock Nielsen, of Pleasant View; Curtis Nye, of Clinton, who is the project’s team leader; James Stoddard, of Menan, Idaho; and Cameron Swaner, of Ogden, along with design graphics engineering technology students Meghan Billings, of Anchorage, Alaska; David Brooks, of Burbank, Calif.; and Deneichia Evans, of Layton. All eight students are graduating in May. Associate manufacturing engineering technology professors Kelly Harward and Kerry Tobin are the faculty advisors for the capstone senior project.
UHP, which provided $15,000 in funding for the project, has reviewed the design and offered input throughout the project. Planning began last summer with an initial brainstorming session.
“We wanted to take on a new challenge,” Swaner said. “We didn’t want to copy someone else.”
The group saw room to improve upon earlier versions of the convincer. They wanted the latest edition to look more like an actual car, rather than just seats in a box. Swaner said that, from early in the process, UHP officials were impressed by the group’s decision to use design elements that would appeal to grade school children.
Unlike convincer predecessors, which featured a carriage striking a non-moving surface such as a wall, the students embraced the novelty of having two vehicles that could simulate a head-on collision. Based on their research, the students believe their convincer may be the only one of its kind in the country.
The design process began in the fall. The group created computer models of the device in two different software programs before beginning fabrication this spring. Among the decisions that had to be made was whether to use a drive train or the gravity system employed by past convincers.
The project required the students to draw on an array of engineering disciplines, including solid modeling, sheet metal, machining, electrical, motor controls, dynamics and aesthetics. Most of the students have spent 20 hours a week working on the project.
“This has been our lives for the past year,” Nye said. “It will be a sad day when we have to turn over the keys to the UHP.”
The students will be demonstrating “The Convincer” on April 25 at 11:30 a.m. in the plaza area south of Building 4 on WSU’s Ogden campus.
Tobin said the project was one of the most complex senior projects students have ever attempted. “This project has allowed eight individuals with eight different sets of talents to come together and share their capabilities in a way that has allowed all of them to shine,” he said.
The trailer base, custom built by Wells Cargo and provided at cost, can be pulled by a half-ton pickup truck. Other gift-in-kind donations were made by Art by Alex, Boman & Kemp Manufacturing Inc., Chromalox, Lifetime Products and MAACO Collision Repair and Auto Painting in Ogden.
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