A Tale Of Two Engineering Projects

At our Boy Scout Troop meeting last night, we had adult volunteers in two rooms, putting their “day job” skills to use. Two of our troop parents are dental professionals, so they were working with the Scouts, as a group, to complete the requirements for their Dentistry Merit Badge. In the other room, a couple of other parents and I were making last-minute equipment preparations for the Troop’s annual Lenten Fish Fry.

Anyway, one of our projects this year is to fix or replace the fryer tank. Nobody knows how old it is or where it came from…one of our Assistant Scoutmasters has been around for almost 20 years, and it was here when he came. Now, it’s just a big metal box that sits on the stove and holds the oil that we fry the fish in, but with three engineers looking it over and coming up with ideas, it’s got the potential to be the most complex big metal box in the county. The current problem is only a ¼” crack near the top of a corner, but also on our “wish list” are items like:

*Handles: this tank is about 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 18 inches deep. It’s not heavy at all, but handles sure would make it easier to move around, wash, dry, etc.
*Drain: Currently, we use a small battery operated pump to empty about 10 gallons of oil out of it every Friday night. A strategically placed petcock valve will cut our clean up time to a fraction of what it currently is.
*Temperature control: these ideas ranged from a port for a permanently mounted thermometer to a thermocouple that we could tie in to a regulator in the gas line. We’re all scared of tapping into the gas line, so the thermometer is looking better and better. It’s always fun to see yourself on the news, but not when it’s because you were involved with a fire that burned a church building down.
*Material of construction: Stainless Steel is awesome, but we’re probably on more of an aluminum budget.

Last week, we had the pleasure of conducting an Efficiency Lab Test of a customer’s drilled pipe compressed air blowing device. It was doing the job, but it used a lot of air, it was loud, and it had been in place for as long as anyone could remember. As it turns out, our 12″ Aluminum Super Air Knife looks to be a viable solution to the items on their “wish list”: reduced air consumption, and lower noise levels…it’s going to cut both to a fraction of what they are currently. This is a significant improvement, because not only are they going to save $500-$1,000 per year on compressed air for each of two units, but the operators no longer have to wear hearing protection, since the maximum sound levels are going from 108 to 67 decibels…well below OSHA’s published 8-hour limit of 90 dBA.

These are two examples of what can happen when you get a couple of engineers involved in a project. If you’d like to find out how much you can save your wallet…and ears…by switching to EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call. If you find yourself hungry and on the east side of Cincinnati on a Friday night in the coming weeks, I can also tell you where to get a great meal in support of a great organization.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

Merit Badges

My oldest son has been a Boy Scout for about six months now. I’ve gone on and on (and on and on and on) about the virtues and benefits of the Scouting program. If you haven’t guessed yet, I intend to go on a little more, right now.

Along with several of his friends in his troop, he’s actively on the hunt for Merit Badges. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the program, Merit Badges are – and aren’t – tied to a Scout’s advancement. There are certain Merit Badges he’ll need to make rank (there are twelve specific ones required to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout), but any Scout can pursue the requirements for any Merit Badge at any time, regardless of age or rank. The only thing he needs is enough interest to start, and enough drive to finish.

There are, at latest count, over 120 to choose from. They include activities/interests that most people associate with Boy Scouting, like Camping, Hiking, First Aid, and Indian Lore. There are some that are obviously in line with the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to shaping tomorrow’s leaders – they can earn three different Citizenship Merit Badges (Community, Nation, and World), as well as American Business, Scholarship, and Public Speaking. Some are geared towards things they do for fun – Cycling, Skating, and Golf…which may rival the Cub Scout’s Pinewood Derby for “level of father involvement.”

There are some that I was surprised to see on the list. Turns out, Boy Scouts can earn Merit Badges for Composite Materials, Dentistry, Pulp & Paper, and Nuclear Science. The newest one is Robotics, and several Summer Camps are even incorporating it into their schedules of activities. I’m secretly hoping that my son will pursue the Home Repairs and Plumbing Merit Badges, but I’m not holding my breath…

The key person in the Merit Badge Plan (aside from the Scout himself) is the Merit Badge Counselor. This is an adult with a keen level of interest, knowledge, and experience in the specifics of a particular Merit Badge. His or her responsibility is to:

1. Assist the Scout as he plans the assigned projects and activities to meet the merit badge requirements.
2. Coach Scouts through interviews and demonstrations on how to do the required skills of the craft, business, or hobby.
3. Certify the Scout after determining whether he is qualified for the merit badge.

 “A Guide for Merit Badge Counseling,” http://www.scoutmaster.org

This system of Merit Badge Counseling, in and of itself, is a terrific way to teach these Scouts another valuable life skill: Networking. When you have an interest you want to pursue further, who do you call on? When you have an endeavor you want to take to the next level, whose aid do you enlist? Whenever we can, we turn to those whose passion or profession (or ideally, both) is in line with our quests, right?

That’s the way it should be, and I’m glad my son is part of an organization that recognizes and promotes the value of networking, or, as they call it, the Patrol Method.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: http://www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair