Dordt College News

Dordt student receives engineering award

December 7, 2012

Dordt College freshman Ian Veenstra along with co-creator Austin Stiers was awarded first place honors this fall at the 2012 Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing Competition from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for their “Next Generation Tail Light” design.

Veenstra received the award for a design created while he was a senior at Cedar Falls High School in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Students from around the country were tasked with designing a product made by utilizing unique direct digital manufacturing techniques and materials. Contestants had to design a product that represented a fully working prototype and could be used in another assembly. The geometry of the design was to be defined within a three-dimensional, computer-aided design system capable of producing robust StereoLithography files.

The tail light system that he created “is a progressive system that will react to how hard you are pressing on the brake and other sensors in the vehicle” said Veenstra. “When you first put your foot on the brake, the outside edge lights up, and as you apply more pressure the center sections progressively light up to show how fast you’re decelerating. If you slam on the brakes, the apparatus also strobes to very clearly alert people behind you.”

The design is an improvement to existing progressive systems such as the one used by BMW that uses an extra set of lights to show if the person has slammed on the brakes. Veenstra explained the issue that he addressed with the new design: “The problem with the existing systems is that if you’re looking down when the person in front of you hits the brakes, you won’t be able to tell if it’s on the low setting or the high setting. There is no reference point to clearly show what’s ‘full.’” The next generation tail light is currently patent-pending.


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