CDME creates a solution for local animal shelter

Posted: August 8, 2023
Students interacting with dogs
CDME students interacting with animals at the shelter

A group of undergraduate students from the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) have joined forces to assist a local animal shelter. 

CHA Animal Shelter, in Westerville, Ohio, was facing an issue with their trench drain covers in their dog kennels. CHA was aware of The Ohio State University’s engineering prowess and reached out to meet the students at CDME. 

Trench drain covers are necessary for the sanitation at animal shelters as the kennels that house the animals are lined side by side with a continuous trench drain running through all of them. CHA’s current drain covers were heavily rusted and starting to break under the weight of the dogs and volunteers. This breakage posed the risk of exposure to contaminates the covers were designed to contain. 

“We believe in providing the animals at CHA Animal Shelter with housing that is comfortable and safe, said Kelsey Smucker, executive director of CHA Animal Shelter “As our existing trench covers began to break and the continuous trench running through the kennels began to become exposed, we needed an immediate solution to ensure proper disease control and ensure that our dogs and their belongings did not encounter the debris inside the trench. We are grateful for the partnership between CHA and the CDME team which resulted in the development and installation of the stainless-steel covers that now protect the health of our animals.”   

CDME undergraduate students, Kloe Hooker, Belquis Mbayu, Alex Miller, Carley Miller and Jacob Ross, worked on the project and were led by Sam Storts, CDME Materials and Process lead engineer. After meeting with the animal shelter, the students understood the unique requirements to fit the covers into the shelter. They worked closely with the shelter staff to identify key areas of concern, such as chemical resistance, high strength capabilities and pet safety. Supplied with this information, the students embarked on the design and manufacturing process.  

Alex Miller began compiling a list of materials that met the shelters' needs along with each material's potential cost and fabrication methods and presented these to CHA. The team decided to move forward with perforated stainless-steel sheets. The minimum thickness of the covers based on the strength requirements was then calculated, and an order was placed for the largest size of these sheets that would fit in CDME’s waterjet. The water jet was programmed to rough cut the covers out, then the edges were grinded down with bench grinder to provide a smooth finish. Rubber edge trim was applied to reduce noise, and stainless-steel hinges and fasteners were used to allow the cover to be lifted for cleaning purposes. The covers were assembled by hand, leaving the shelter with 35 brand new trench drain covers to be used in their kennels. 

Trench drain covers being manufactured at CDME facility
Trench drain covers being manufactured at CDME facility

“My experience with this project was unique in the sense that I got to work hands-on with the customer from the first day and led the project from that point to the final product,” said Alex Miller, CDME undergraduate assistant.” I was able to see the original drain covers being used and hear firsthand what the end users (both volunteers and furry friends) needed from their replacements. Getting to see how the things I was doing would impact the shelter was one of my favorite parts.” 

CDME strives to give students real, hands-on experience. Projects, such as this one, give undergraduate student assistants practical experience integrating new technologies into applications. The center implements this innovative strategy for workforce development and technology translation allowing these students to learn while having responsibility for the project. 

By harnessing their technical knowledge, the CDME students successfully manufactured new trench drain covers for the facility and hand delivered them, improving the conditions for the shelter's furry inhabitants. 

By: Kelly McCarthy, CDME marketing and communications student assistant

Category: Students