I Think I'll Build A Jet Engine

Published: January 01, 2006 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Nolan Gray, a junior Integrated Engineering major at Southern Utah University, has been seen lately outside the east side of the Technology Building on campus, doing a little dance. A victory dance, if you will. A celebratory dance. A happy dance. You see, he has successfully built a jet engine. Not something everyone does everyday.

From Huntington, Utah, Nolan was enrolled this semester in the Mechanical Design course of the Integrated Engineering degree curriculum. Just like in the real-world, he was given a job assignment and told to go do it! He immediately began doing research, surfing the Internet, and talking to people—like professionals working out in the field and his professors. And then, he went to Tradeo—the live, call-in show every morning on KSUB-590 AM where people buy, sell, and trade miscellaneous items. From his call, Nolan was donated a turbo charger off of a wrecked 18-wheeler diesel engine from Barney Trucking in Salina, Utah.

With the implementation of Solid Modeling software and his own design, Nolan built a working jet engine. He also had the generous support of City Muffler which provide piping; Rice Machining which helped with the welding; Construction Steel donated some materials; and Guymon Machining in Cleveland, Utah, donated some materials and machine parts. “This is just an example of how much the community supports our students and curriculum with by little kindnesses,” Bill Pratt, Assistant Professor of Engineering, says.

Nolan’s model brings fresh air into the engine under pressure, and mixes it with fuel in the combustion chamber, where it ignites, explodes really, and powers the turbine which turns the compressor blades and brings in more cold air. And, then Nolan dances. "Nolan did a fantastic job on this assignment,” Pratt exclaims. I’m proud of him, and he’s thrilled about it. That’s him doing a little happy dance around the machine. ”

Nolan is a transfer student from the College of Eastern Utah. He came to SUU when he heard about its new and unique Integrated Engineering program. He’s already working at Bulloch Bros. Engineering firm as a civil designer.

SUU’s Integrated Engineering program is the only one of its kind in the state higher education system, and one of only a few in the entire country. It is the only ABET-accredited program of its kind. ABET, Inc., established in 1932, is the recognized U.S. accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. Accreditation is a process in academia that ensures the quality of postsecondary education students receive.

Integrated Engineering defined, is a program designed to meet the particular needs of small and medium-sized companies. Nowadays, many small companies can ill afford to hire a fleet of engineering specialists; so, the SUU integrated engineering degree will produce an interdisciplinary engineering generalist who can deal with most smaller companies’ engineering challenges. The SUU IE degree is a direct supply to the demand by today’s industry conditions.

“The IE program at SUU is special,” Nolan states. “It wasn’t what I was expecting in an engineering program, but it is more. I like the diversity of the program best; I’m gaining important knowledge in all the fields of engineering.” The professors and the way they teach, Nolan says, empowers students. “I could come and talk to them about my project and they say ‘Have you thought about this’ or ‘Have you tried this,’ and then they’d turn me loose again! I love it!”

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