Ware lab aids design capabilities
By Liz Crumbley
Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 03 - September 10, 1998
A space of about 10,000 square feet in the Military Laundry Building has been transformed into the Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory, where undergraduates from all engineering departments and other colleges can design and construct their own projects.
The lab, which was opened to students this semester, hosts a computer automated design lab, a machine shop with numerically controlled machine tools, a welding shop, eight caged work bays, a project showroom, and a classroom. The Car Factory, two airplane projects, the Human-Powered Submarine project, and Virtual Corporations are among the projects housed in the lab.
The new facility is made possible by the generosity of Joseph F. Ware Jr., a 1937 Virginia Tech mechanical-engineering graduate, and his wife, Jenna, who live in Oxnard, California.
During a long and distinguished career in engineering, Ware taught aeronautics and dynamics at Tech and then worked for 33 years at Lockheed.
Ware was among the early flight-test engineers employed at the Skunk Works, Lockheed's unique aircraft engineering design lab in Burbank, California. Ware helped develop the YP-80A, the first U.S. production jet fighter, and numerous other military aircraft including the U-2. He also worked with all variations of the Constellation, one of Lockheed's most successful commercial aircraft.
The lab's machine shop is named for Arthur C. Klages, a 1942 industrial engineering graduate, who made valuable equipment donations to the project.
During the dedication of the Ware Lab on September 4, mechanical engineering Department Head Walter O'Brien recognized Ware as "the collaborator, facilitator and enabler of this project." Hayden Griffin, head of the Division of Engineering Fundamentals, called the lab "a world-class facility for undergraduates with no equal in the United States."
"You can build a laboratory out of gold," Ware said, "but if it has no students, it's worth nothing. This lab is filled with students--that's what it's all about."
Undergraduate design projects currently housed in the Ware Lab include:
Airplane projects--These are electric-powered, remote-controlled airplanes. One was designed and built by engineering students to carry remote-sensing instruments that will be used to monitor forest conditions such as acid rain. This project is a collaborative effort of engineering, the Virginia Tech School of Forestry, and the Geography Department, with sponsorship from NASA. The other airplane was built for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics national "Design, Build and Fly" Competition. The Virginia Tech team placed second in the 1997 competition.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)--The HEV team tied for first place in the 1998 leg of the national FutureCar Challenge in Detroit. This year, the U.S. Department of Energy has donated a state-of-the-art automotive fuel cell to the team to power their modified Chevy Lumina.
Mini-Baja all terrain vehicle--"Tink" took close second places in two 1998 international competitions, the Mini Baja East in Tennessee and the Midwest Mini Baja in Wisconsin. Each year, engineering students build new mini-baja vehicles from scratch for the competitions.
Autonomous Vehicles--Operated by on-board computers that read visual signals fed by mounted video cameras, these "robotic" vehicles have placed well during International Autonomous Ground Robotic Vehicle Competitions in recent years.
Formula SAE Cars--These Formula-1-style vehicles are built with racing in mind and have performed well in national competitions for a number of years.
Human-Powered Submarine--Built from scratch by Virginia Tech engineering students, this fiberglass two-man submarine placed third during the 1998 World Submarine Invitationals held in San Diego. This year, the students are modifying the two-man sub and building a new one-man sub for the 1999 international competition in Florida.
Personal Electric Rapid Transit System--Students from throughout the university are working on the project, designing a MAGLEV (Magnetic Levitation) vehicle system in an attempt to lower the potential costs of rapid transit by reducing energy waste. The prototype of the system built by the students is a MAGLEV microprocessor-controlled monorail track.