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Welcome to the BCC Engineering and Technology Programs Blog. We hope to make this an informative site for visitors curious to learn about  the Engineering and Technology Dept. at Berkshire Community College. We invite visitors to browse through our programs pages to see the kinds of offerings we have to meet students’ educational needs.

Like many Community Colleges we are very proud of our small intimate classroom settings where staff can give nearly individual attention to the students’ learning experience. Our programs involve a great deal of inter-department cooperation amongst a close knit group of highly skilled and knowledgeable Professors and Instructors from the contributing Departments. Additionally we keep a close relationship with the Berkshire Innovation Center and other local organizations and private companies

José Colmenares Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Engineering

Faculty spotlight: Thomas Sullivan

Small colleges like ours would not survive if it wasn’t from local members of the community who give their time and effort to our educational mission. At the engineering department we are lucky to have two adjunct faculty, Profs. Mossman and Sullivan, from one of our local high-tech employers, General Dynamics. Prof. Sullivan is an engineer at GD during the day and has been teaching microcontrollers part time at BCC since 2008. It is clear by talking with him that he is passionate about engineering and loves his job. On his “free” time he does not only help train the next generation of engineers and techs at BCC, but also is a prolific electronics hobbyist. Some of his homebrewed projects include light detection glasses for the blind, which vibrate as the wearer approaches an object, a satellite-tracking antenna for his satellite radio and a similar design for a drone communications antenna, both projects required a serious dive into geometry as well as programing the electronics. He is also an amateur radio operator, which was a very popular hobby for connecting people across long distances before the internet linked the world together, but unlike some old timers who have left the radio hobby due to tougher restrictions on radio bandwidth as well as the competition from cheap internet and cellphones, he has used his brainpower in developing software algorithms to improve the quality of communication which more efficient use of the limited frequencies for amateurs.

His latest project is a CO2 detector using off-the-shelf low cost components. If the CO2 content in a room is too high, it can be an indication of poor ventilation and excessive amount of people, which equates to the same conditions that will make the COVID-19 virus to be easily transmitted in a multiple contagion event.

We are thankful for the time Prof. Sullivan volunteers to our college and we are looking forward to students connecting with him with all the questions about electronics and programing they can think of.

Prof. Sullivan testing his glasses-for-the-blind design

Testing his radio improvements at Mount Greylock

 

Prof Bradway retires

Prof. Gary Bradway, who has been been teaching at Berkshire Community College Engineering department since 1986 has decided to retire after 34 years of fruitful service to the institution and the Berkshires engineering community. Prof. Bradway is a staple of the college and laid the foundations for the next decade of academic success. He has educated countless engineers who have made a difference in the western Massachusetts region and all over our nation. Before joining BCC he worked as an engineer for Lenox Machine (now known as Valmet). He is also an avid skier and coach. We wish him the best in the next step and will be missed by students and colleagues!

BBC’s Engineering on WBTR

Hear Professor Colmenares talk about our new Mechatronics program at Minute 21 and 25 seconds  on Morning Drive from Access Pittsfield TV and WBTR-FM
If you want to learn about our non-credit offerings from our director for workforce development of advanced manufacturing Paul Magtingly he is on minute 14 and 50 seconds

http://www.pittsfieldtv.net/CablecastPublicSite/show/34937?channel=1

Student Spotlight – Rebecca Seddon

I would like to use this Post to feature one of my Engineering Computer Applications course students. The class  recently had a project to design and implement a Userform in Excel that deals with the Physics topic of Projectile Motion. They were asked to build a GUI type Userform in VBA that allows a user to put in values for the initial velocity of a projectile (Muzzle Velocity) , its launch angle, and the initial height above the horizontal plane. They were then to use the values to calculate and display the usual parameters (e.g. the velocity in the horizontal direction, the velocity in the vertical direction, the time of flight, the downrange distance, and the maximum height). The class had previously done this type of analysis using Excel in a more traditional way, i.e. they calculated all those parameters and displayed them on a worksheet.  They also graphed the height versus time. For the latest project, they did not have to tie the userform to their graph. 

I have the students do userform projects for many reasons, but mostly because userforms are all around us.  Everywhere you look there is some sort of userform.  I see this an opportune time to mix in a little Physics and Computer Programming skills to build something that is used everywhere.

One of the students, Rebecca Seddon, did an absolutley wonderful job in her design and implementation. I invite you to launch Rebecca’s Userform at the Link below and try it for yourself.  Notice some very nice features:

1. A nice looking, very simple and very intuitive graphic layout design of the form,

2. Fully automatic update of the graph for each new set of calculations,

3. Clearing of calculation results as soon as a new value is entered for any of the available input parameters,

4. Data formatting.

Keep in mind as you try the Userform, that this is a class for first semester Freshman, who typically have not had the Physics course that cover Projectile Motion.

I hope you appreciate the work Rebecca did; I know I did!
Projectile Motion VBA

After my initial Post of Rebecca’s Projectile Motion userform, I looked at her latest project which is a userform for an application of Stoke’s Law for the Settling Velocity of particles in different fluids. I invite you to look at this one as well.

Settling Velocity

John Tatro

Crosby Legos First Challange

Who said it is difficult to get young children, especially girls, interested in math and science? After reading the following brief description of the first challnge for the Crosby afterschool robotics program, view the three videos and you be the judge. Pay attention the level of engagement, the intensity, and the body language of the kids.

Wow, what a great way to spend an hour on a Wednesday afternoon!

The teams had to determine how far their robot traveled for one rotation of the wheels. Then they had to measure the length of the challange course and calculate how many rotations they would have to program to get the robot to reach the finish line, but not touch it. Here are some videos of the kids in action.
Itzal’s Team Programming
Jackie’s Trial Run & Itzal’s Final Run
Jackie’s Final Run

Crosby Legos Robotics

Wednesday, Oct 12th was the second meeting of the afterschool, Legos Robotics, enrichment program at Crosby Elementary School. Here is a photo of the kids who are participating this year.

Besides me, the photo shows one of the BCC Service Learning students, David Manzella, and the five Crosby students currently in the program.
Returning from last year are the two young ladies Jackie and Itzal. New comers are Kayshawn, Madison, and Kirsten. What a delightful group. Missing from the photo are Kurt Doherty (BCC Service Learning student) and Mrs. Peggy Irving (Crsoby Staff).

The kids were very excited to finally be able to get the robot to move around. They split up into two teams and started the tasks for Week 2. They went through a number of programs to have the robot drive forward and reverse; and for several different distances. The distances were programmed either by setting the number of rotations of the tires, or the number of degrees the tires turned. They had to measure the distances under known conditions in both inches and centimeters. Then, they had to calculate how far the robot would go for each rotation or for each degree. This is all in preparation for their first big challange that will take place next Wednesday. I will set-up a course with a Start Line and a Finish Line, and each team will have to program their robot to just reach the finish Line without touching it. they get one practice run and then they go-for-the-gold.

Here are some photos of the kids in action as they see what their program actually does, and they busily measure the distances.

For more on BCC’s Service Learning Program, please visit their Blog at
http://blogs.berkshirecc.edu/servicelearning/