MSU Engineering Students Help Miles City Business with Manufacturing

MSU Engineering Students Help Miles City Business with Manufacturing

BOZEMAN — When Curt Almy of Miles City recently discovered himself dealing with the immediate progress of his company, he turned to Montana State College college students to enable design and style a producing course of action that could maintain rate with demand from customers for his products.

MSU engineering learners Jonathon Holcomb, remaining, Jacob Lackner and Dylan Botsford, satisfy with Cat’s Claw fasteners operator Curt Almy to display a production product they designed for their senior capstone task. (MSU photograph by Kelly Gorham)

Almy, the inventor of a fastener named the Cat’s Claw that replaces traditional fencing staples, has worked for the past calendar year with a modest team of MSU engineering majors who tackled the production problem for their senior capstone venture. He recently visited Bozeman to see the team’s prototype equipment, which sorts and combines screws with the Cat’s Claw’s trademark steel part that secures fence wire to wooden posts.

“I enjoy acquire-acquire tales, and this is a get-gain,” Almy claimed. Performing with a capstone team “is a fantastic possibility if somebody has a challenge they believe wants some engineering.”

As a prerequisite of graduation, all students in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College or university of Engineering work in groups to deal with true-existence design and style complications posed by businesses, MSU college and other sponsors. For Jacob Lackner, a mechanical engineering main from Frenchtown, doing work with Almy was a opportunity for him and his teammates to choose their curiosity in production to the following level.

“It was a significant problem, but that also produced it much more appealing,” mentioned Lackner, who is heading to a job with aerospace maker Boeing following graduating this thirty day period. “We’ve certainly figured out a large amount together the way.”

Fasteners drop into a container as part of a machine designed to assemble Cat’s Claw fasteners. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham)

To make the unit, which is made up of vibrating trays that feed the sections into rails the place each individual screw is punched into a matching steel plate, the pupils experienced to draw on their understanding of structural engineering, vibration mechanics and much more. “It’s really the culmination of a whole lot of what we have learned in our lessons,” Lackner stated.

“Automating the whole point was a challenge for confident,” reported staff member Jonathon Holcomb, a mechanical engineering important from Billings. “We had to figure every little thing out from scratch.” Holcomb stated he was by now implementing the lessons from the capstone expertise to his component-time task at area maker Pocket NC, which helps make desktop milling machines that can fabricate custom made parts. Group member Dylan Botsford, a mechanical engineering technology important from Missoula, will go on soon after graduation to work at a St. Louis-primarily based company of flame-resistant products.

In accordance to Craig Shankwitz, capstone teacher in the Division of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, the senior initiatives not only check students’ expertise and teamwork in opposition to the advanced design difficulties they will experience as skilled engineers but also give an prospect for MSU to support resolve authentic-planet problems in Montana and beyond.

There is generally a will need for capstone sponsors, he included.

Almy understood of that opportunity because his dad previously labored with a capstone staff of MSU electrical engineering majors to make a machine that could keep an eye on the water level in the stock tanks on the spouse and children ranch outdoors Miles City. Whilst preserving the 18 miles of fencing on the residence, Almy conceived and patented the Cat’s Claw and started production it in Taiwan. Considering that 2018, profits of the product have doubled every yr, and the Cat’s Claw is now offered in about 200 retail outlets all around the U.S. The amplified rate of business ran up versus the time lag of overseas shipping and delivery and the limitations of possessing the products assembled by hand.

“I said, ‘There has to be a greater way. Anyone has got to be ready to make a equipment that could do this,'” Almy recalled.

Acquiring in contact with Shankwitz and then coordinating with the capstone staff was effortless, Almy claimed, and he was impressed with what the learners arrived up with. Equally he and the students identify the prototype as a function in development, anything that could be even more refined by one more capstone group or with qualified engineering products and services. “I would really like to carry the production again to U.S., it’s possible even Montana, and this could be one particular backlink in accomplishing that,” he claimed.

“The pupils introduced a ton of techniques to the table that I don’t have,” Almy stated. “They wanted a very good quality, I preferred a fantastic merchandise, and I feel all people benefitted.”

For additional info about how to sponsor a capstone job, visit

– by Marshall Swearingen, MSU Information Services –