Noah Shaefer is a recently hired mechanical engineer and former engineering co-op here at R.A Jones. He first began majoring in mechanical engineering because he was always curious about how the world around him worked. He liked the idea of seeing how parts of a machine came together as a whole. During his co-op time at R.A Jones he needed a senior design project to work on for his final semester at the University of Cincinnati. Noah has worked on a variety of mechanical engineering projects during his co-op time at R.A Jones, but this one would be the most meaningful and life changing for him.
Enter the Quality of Life Plus Program
One day while at school, he came across an opportunity to help someone in need for his senior design project. The Quality of Life Plus Program came into his class to speak to students about helping veterans by engineering solutions to problems they were dealing with. The Quality of Life Plus Program is a nonprofit organization that helps to better the lives of veterans, first responders and service members. Their goal is to help engineering students gain hands on experience while providing meaningful work to veterans in their communities.
Mike Donnelly was one of the veterans in attendance that day who needed help with his day-to-day life. He is an Army veteran who had impaired mobility and is legally blind.Mike had a scooter he could not use outside of his home. The rack he had for his truck that would allow him to haul the scooter, was too heavy for him to lift and place on his truck. This limited him from being able to go out in public and spend time with his grandchildren. Noah and some of his classmates decided they were going to help Mike gain his freedom back. They wanted to design a scooter rack lifting device that would allow Mike to lift and lower the scooter rack with minimal effort. Noah liked the idea of this project because he could utilize his engineering skills to design and build the lift from the scratch. Most importantly, it meant that Noah could really help a veteran in need.
Time to Get to Work
Noah and his team got to work right away, designing and building the lift. Noah led the team and began creating all the designs for the lift. He said the knowledge and experience he learned at R.A Jones helped him design and create drawings for the scooter lift. He also machined the parts, assembled the lift and did various reports for the project.
One challenge Noah and his team ran into was ensuring precision on the parts. Many of the key components for the scooter needed to maintain a tight tolerance. Unfortunately, he only had access to manual mills on campus and he was concerned about the parts not being able to function the way they needed. This is where he asked R.A Jones to step in and help. He said right from the beginning they were willing to help in any way they could. He asked R.A Jones’ expert machinists to help him manufacture the parts. The machinist used computer guided mills to help make the crucial components for the lift, ensuring the parts were made accurately. Noah needed a special tolerance shaft for the bearings to make sure the lift was straight and could move up and down freely. They made the housing for the bearings as well to hold everything together. They also allowed Noah to use the laser cutter to make a special plate for the lift, showing the logos of the University of Cincinnati and Quality of Life Plus.
This scooter has improved Mike’s life forever. It has improved his mobility by allowing him to spend more time with his grandchildren at the park and zoo. “It was an outstanding opportunity for me,” Mike states. “The students were very knowledgeable about the engineering of the device they made for me. Also, getting to know a couple of them from visits to my house was enjoyable. I know that the device they made for me was exactly what I needed.”
Noah and R.A Jones
Noah was very grateful and surprised with how much help and compassion R.A Jones showed for taking the time to help him create this scooter lift for Mike. Noah initially believed he would need ten parts for the lift, but after some redesign, more parts were needed, and R.A Jones was more than willing to accommodate these changes. He said there were no hoops he had to jump through to get R.A Jones to help him. They were willing to go the extra mile to help a veteran in need. Noah also said he owes a lot of gratitude to R.A Jones for helping him in his career. He said if it wasn’t for R.A Jones allowing him to co-op here, he would have never been able to design the scooter lift and lead his team the way he did.
Noah Represents R.A Jones' Core Values
There are four common core values R.A Jones shares with all other Coesia companies. These values are: respect, responsibility, knowledge and passion. We would like to congratulate Noah on demonstrating all of them through his hard work and determination to help Mike Donnelly improve his daily life. We are excited to have Noah on our team as a full-time engineer and look forward to what Noah can accomplish at our organization both professionally and personally.
Why did you become an engineer? Why mechanical engineering?
I wanted to know how things worked. I liked that engineering is based on math and science. Mechanical was more hands on. My dad is a welder/machinist and that inspired me to work on machines and various things with my hands. It was more physical than any other form of engineering. I liked that I could see pieces moving and how it all works together.
How did you find out about the veteran project?
QL+ came to my senior design class. Mike came with them along with their communication manager Amber. They explained the project to my class. They also explained about other veterans in the area needing help and how we as engineering students could use our skills to help better veteran’s lives.
What made you choose Mike’s project?
Mike’s project was more opened ended. There were many ways to solve this issue which I liked. I liked that I would get to design, build, and create a solution to a problem my way. I also would have more freedom as far as creativity went as well. The other project was for a veteran who had a bike and needed help using the brakes as he leaned back instead of using the traditional hand brake. The project just needed a new part and did not seem very challenging for me.
What drew you to the project?
I chose this for my senior design because I was able to help a veteran. I was able to design, create and build something to help someone’s life. The other option I had was making something for a corporation and I felt it would not be as beneficial as Mikes project.
How were you able to work on this project, co-op and study all at the same time?
Time management, I took time off during Christmas break and designed the entire first version. Once the first version was done, I spent a few hours a day correcting it. It took three different prototypes, but we finally got it on the third try. Then we could begin manufacturing the parts and piecing it together.
How did R.A Jones help you out with this project?
They have a lot of expert machinists working with CNC mills.They did the lift frame parts. I needed special tolerance shafts for the barring to make sure lift was straight and that it could move up and down freely. They made the housing for the barring to hold everything together.
What are your plans now since you have graduated and work here full time?
I just started in the Product Line department as a Product Design Engineer II. Currently I'm working on a collaborative project with FlexLink. I will also be going back to the University of Cincinnati next month so I can get my MBA.