Wednesday, September 27, 2023

NFA Students Solve Traffic Engineering Problem in City of Newburgh

Newburgh Free Academy students recently worked together to solve a traffic engineering problem in the City of Newburgh. The end result could help increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Students in Matthew Schweizer’s high school Architecture, Engineering, and Design class were presented with the task of figuring out how to provide power to speed detection signs intended to reduce traffic flow while promoting vehicle and pedestrian safety. Prior to the assignment, the speedometers were not practical because they needed to be plugged in for recharging every 12 hours.

The students were tasked with creating a more efficient solution. They brainstormed ideas to retrofit the current model with solar panels. The class worked with the Career and Technical Education program’s welding, electronics, and construction classes while engineering the device. The final outcome resulted in self-sufficient signs that did not need to be recharged or plugged in.

Some notable features of this project that students designed, built, and installed are the solar panel mount, the solar panel angle brace, battery support, and the 3D printed post cap. Welding students custom built all of the components using and steel. All custom-built parts were first sketched out, technically drawn using drafting tools, 3D modeled using Autodesk Inventor, and finally either 3D printed or built by hand. This hands-on and interactive experience helped students develop real-world skills that will lay their foundation as future fabricators and engineers.

The speedometer signs were purchased by the Orange County Department of Planning through the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Program. The goal of the purchase was to increase safety for bicyclists and pedestrians on the City of Newburgh streets. Students in Schweizer’s class received $1,000 in grant money from the Awesome Newburgh Foundation to complete the project.

The initiative expanded well beyond Newburgh Free Academy and into the local community through the City of Newburgh Department of Public Works with other devices. Students will now be able to walk or drive by the culmination of their work every day.

“Mr. Schweizer constantly helps students connect their coursework to future career possibilities, building valuable skills and thought processes throughout each class that he teaches,” said John Etri, the Director of Career and Technical Education. “This approach excites and encourages our students to understand the tangible impact of what they’re learning in class each and every day. To be able to see the product of their hard work every day at school, further emphasizes their hard work toward completing a goal project.”

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