The Oerlikon AM hackathon series started
Take one real-world challenge: use metal additive manufacturing to design a lightweight expandable wheel in spirit of the next generation Mars rover that NASA plans to launch in 2020. Then add a few twists. First, the teams competing for the winning design would be composed entirely of university students. Second, each component must fit on a build plate smaller than the fully expanded wheel and be remotely deployed into a locked position. Finally, the design phase must be completed only 24 hours after first learning about the challenge.
That was the idea behind the first annual “hackathon,” an event launched by Oerlikon in partnership with North Carolina State University. Held October 20-22, 2017, this “hack marathon” attracted more than 50 students who participated on teams of three to four. Equal parts innovation incubator and endurance race, the event culminated in the presentation of final designs to a panel of judges drawn from additive manufacturing industry professionals and academic leaders.
All the students came up with innovative design solutions, but the first prize was awarded to team MAM+ (which stands for Metal Additive Manufacturing+). The four students on the winning team were commended for developing a concept that demonstrated sound engineering principles, application of AM design and cost optimization, and a unique approach to the problem at hand.
The event was an opportunity for students to be part of the new industrial revolution sparked by additive manufacturing and to get hands-on experience using tools that are transforming the production of advanced components. Equally important, it was an opportunity for industry veterans to see how emerging talent will make use of — and offer unique perspectives on — this industrial change.