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August 2012

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CAMCAD Technologies Partners with UAH
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CAMCAD Technologies Partners with UAH

CAMCAD Technologies, Inc. (CAMCAD) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) have partnered to develop innovative new opportunities for manufacturing engineering students.

Stephen Collins serves as the Prototype Development Specialist for the UAH College of Engineering Machine Shop, teaching students hands-on skills regarding design for manufacturability. When Collins first started with the UAH Research Institute back in 1992, he recalls working on a donated $140,000 machine using a pocket calculator to do programming. "We were producing fairly crude hardware at the time because we didn't have programming software," Collins said. "We eventually upgraded to a computer and selected CAMCAD as our CAM system vendor. From the start, they treated us as if we were big money customers, even though we had limited funding." This was the beginning of the ongoing collaboration between UAH and CAMCAD.

"We are one of the few student-accessible machine shops in the country," said Collins. "Our mission is to provide a safe learning environment for the students so that they can operate machines safely at the appropriate experience level."

Due to the potential hazards of machine shop equipment, students are required to take a safety course prior to operating most equipment. It has become evident, however, that there is a missing link that connects the universities operating machine shops. CAMCAD hopes to facilitate a network for universities operating machine shops that can build on each other for support. The University of Alabama in Huntsville is also working on developing a universal safety program for universities. "We're working to develop a program that can be implemented in other universities to make sure they have nominal levels of safety for their machine shops," said Collins. "Our goal is to study the equipment and associated hazards and develop a system of classification for each machine as requiring a certain level of experience to operate."

Students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville have recently been involved in some exciting projects. The "Space Hardware Club" is a student-run organization that conceptualizes, designs, builds, tests and flies space flight and flight quality hardware for student competitions. Their latest project is the design of the ChargerSat-1, a fully operational, orbital pico-satellite that is expected to launch by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. The satellite weighs less than 1 kg and is 10 cm3 in size and is designed to demonstrate full capabilities of all systems for satellite operations. "The students are learning to operate together as small companies, combining their engineering and machining skills to do 2.5-, 3- and even 4-axis machining," said Collins.

"Although we had purchased 4-axis capability for our CNC mills, I had no experience with 4th axis programming; so when Space Hardware Club designed their CubeSat frame rails requiring an A-Axis we were kind of stuck. We relied on CAMCAD's Don Wood to help to provide the knowledge to get them going and we were not disappointed."

"We value our partnership with UAH and feel it is especially important to help foster new innovations which 'spark' students excitement in the manufacturing industry," said Don McKillop, Founder and Chief Technical Officer of CAMCAD.

Last year, the UAH team was invited to participate in an advanced Level II demonstration at the annual NASA Launch Challenge, organized by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The UAH rocket, containing multiple parts machined with CAMCAD's integrated SURFCAM software, was just one of three to successfully meet the requirements to launch at NASA's Wallops Island Launch Facility.

Authored by Dianne Gross and Stephen Collins, University of Alabama in Huntsville

For more information contact:

CAMCAD Technologies, Inc.

5840 Red Bug Lake Rd., Suite 175

Winter Springs, FL 32708


University of Alabama in Huntsville

301 Sparkman Drive

Huntsville, AL 35899


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