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Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Asked to Be a Judge at the Wisconsin Project Lead The Way 2014 EDD Competition

Michael Reader

Barry Butters, Director of Training and Education at Precision Plus was asked to participate as a judge in the Wisconsin Project Lead The Way 2014 Engineering Design and Development (EDD) Competition. There were a total of 24 judges assessing the projects of 19 teams.

Being that Butters is a certified EDD instructor, he knew the process well. Each judge was assigned five teams to listen to and observe, and score based on predetermined scoring rubric, after which an average score was compiled. The caliber of the teams was outstanding. “I was truly impressed with the quality of the students’ work,” said Butters, “It seemed as though some of the groups were already degreed engineers.”

The winning entry was from Oconomowoc, and Butters had the privilege to judge that team. The results of your work are as follows:  The entry, “Active Radiation Shielding for Manned Interplanetary Space Flight” received the average high score.  This team will receive a $5,000 cash award.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) supports young men and women by making available Engineering and Biomedical Sciences classes that lead to exciting new careers.  For more information about Wisconsin Project Lead The Way EDD Competition, click here.

Butters looks forward to being a judge at the 2015 EDD Competition.

Precision Plus’ Barry Butters Is Certified to Teach Project Lead The Way’s Engineering Design and Development Capstone Course to High School Students

Michael Reader

Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training at Precision Plus spent two full weeks at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in June to complete intensive training to enable him to teach the course ‘Engineering Design and Development’ (EDD) to high school students. The course is a capstone course of the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) curriculum.

As per the description of the capstone course on PLTW’s website, “Engineering Design and Development (EDD) gives students the opportunity to work in teams to solve problems of their own choosing.  Under the guidance of a community mentor, teams employ all the skills and knowledge gained through previous coursework to brainstorm, research, construct and test  a model in real-life situations (or simulations); document their designs; and present and defend the designs to a panel of experts.”

Butters participation was sponsored by the Elkhorn Area School District. Beginning in fall 2014, he will be teaching Elkhorn Area H.S. students as well, as other students from local school districts, the EDD Course at Precision Plus’ classroom.

The instructors’ training at Milwaukee School of Engineering teamed up the participants to go through a simulation of the EDD program, which they will be teaching during the school year. Butters collaborated with Phil Winegar, Technology and Engineering Instructor at Menomonie High School, and Brent Siler, Technology and Engineering Instructor at Middleton High School.

The mission for the teams in the training course was to come up with a problem, a solution, develop three design models to implement the solution, and, after choosing one, present their project to a panel of engineers.

Butter’s team pursued a solution for preventing young children from chocking on food. The team focused on the development of a consumer device that would check the softness of food. It was not so much about having a working solution to the problem in two weeks, but rather about understanding how to approach the entire engineering process to come up with a solution.

After a great deal of brainstorming and a decision matrix, three possible prototype solutions–a spring-loaded plunger, a collapsible knife, and an elastic cutter–were printed on a MakerBot 3D printer.

Next, the team selected one potential solution and the solution was tested through experimentation. In the image to the left, butters tests the selected model for its ability to detect the softness of food consistency.

Finally, the results of their entire project and engineering  process were presented to a panel of engineers for scrutiny and recommendations. Pictured on the image to the right are Butters and his teammates Phil Winegar and Brent Siler.

Upon completion of the course, Butters and all the other participants received certificates from PLTW Master Teachers Sharon Tomski and Denise Kimblern, PLTW Affiliate Director Steve Salter, and MSOE V.P. of Academics, Dr. Frederick Berry.

All the training course graduates were looking forward to teaching this program in the fall.