Shining a spotlight on senior engineering design partnership

Contact: Cindy Wagner

KALAMAZOO, Mich.−Senior Design Conference. It’s a time for College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ students from all disciplines to showcase their work, share fresh perspectives and develop new systems. Each semester, graduating seniors present projects they have worked on for an entire year—projects that are sponsored by industry partners, non-profit organizations or faculty members conducting research. 

Blaise Beltowski, B.S.’08

For Landscape Forms, Inc. (LFI), a long-time sponsor of numerous projects, it is also a time to challenge their own employees to learn and continuously improve.

“The WMU senior design event allows our engineering staff to come together with students entering the field to continuously challenge ourselves to improve the status quo,” says Landscape Form’s director of operations, Blaise Beltowski, B.S.’08. 

Landscape Forms’ projects are selected by a cross-functional team of engineers and engineering leaders that focus on real-world challenges for Landscape Forms, an industry leader in integrated solutions of high-design site furniture, advanced LED lighting, structure and custom environments. The student teams are partnered with an LFI engineer who guides them through the project and coaches them to overcome any obstacles along the way.

“Senior design is an important part of our curriculum,” says Dana Hammond, industrial and entrepreneurial engineering and engineering management. “Industry sponsors such as Landscape Forms create enriching experiences for our seniors. These experiences require many resources and we are so thankful for this investment in our students.”

Dana Hammond

So why does Landscape Forms invest so much into senior design projects? The projects support its core values, and it is a unique opportunity to connect with future engineers.

“The partnership between a student, faculty member and a Landscape Forms engineer is a great way to provide exposure to the university on real-world challenges while keeping LFI engaged in new methodologies that WMU has to offer,” explains Charles Washburn, B.S.’13 and operations engineering group leader at Landscape Forms. Washburn adds that the projects support the organization’s core values, and it is a unique opportunity to connect with future engineers.

Landscape Forms defines its competitive advantage as design, culture and craft, and considers senior design as a piece of that advantage. “We use design as a verb. It’s an action of continuous improvements. Culture is defined as our Scanlon principles of identity, participation, competence and equity. Craft is the appreciation and pride of our trades,” adds Beltowski. “Sponsoring Senior Design projects supports these core values.”

Charles Washburn, B.S.'13

This semester, the long-standing partner of Western is sponsoring four projects:

  • Outdoor Furniture Testing Standards: The student team researched and developed outdoor furniture standards for Landscape Forms, which presented the work publicly as a step toward developing an industry standard.
  • Truck Mounted Apparatus to Measure EPA Of Outdoor Light Fixtures: The finalized testing apparatus considers the drag force, air pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind speed. to accurately calculate the effective projected area of outdoor light fixtures. This information is necessary for proper installation.
  • Understanding CNC Capacity Through Production Time Estimation: The capacity model was integrated into Excel to assist the manufacturer in scheduling operations resulting in an increased equipment utilization, a reduction of costs, and shorter lead times.
  • Adjustable Load Testing Machine: The team engineered a testing system based on safety, ease of use, durability, portability ad cost for Landscape Forms; currently testing is completed outside the organization. 

Learn more about senior design and read about these and all the projects from the fall 2022 semester.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.