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Aller gets two new grants

July 3, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Dr. Betsy M. Aller, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Western Michigan University, has received a grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium for her project "Engineering as an Everyday Activity: Community Outreach and Exploration."

The project, which began in May, includes offering a series of discussions and hands-on engineering activities at WMU's Parkview Campus to teachers and parents, who studies show have a low understanding of engineering.

"The participants will actually have hands-on experiences so they understand that engineering influences the everyday quality of life for all of us," Aller says. "The goal is to get teachers and parents to understand it so they can promote and support students' going into engineering."

She plans to involve participants in such activities as extruding plastics, making paper, exploring robotics and trying rapid prototyping so that they understand and become more comfortable with engineering. These activities will include conversations with engineers and an Ask an Engineer forum.

Aller, along with co-principal investigator, Larry Mallak, WMU professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, also has received a grant in January from AlcoaEPC of Mattawan, Mich., for "Improving Global Workplace Skills Through the Enhancement of the Senior Engineering Technology Experience."

The grant provided funds for six undergraduate and two graduate students to attend the ANTEC National Conference for Society of Plastics Engineers in Charlotte, NC, in May. Funds are also being used to support a senior engineering design project to reduce potential injuries to workers changing dies in machines. This project, which includes an ergonomics study and system analysis, will be presented at WMU's 2006 Conference on Senior Engineering Design Projects.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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