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MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program gains national recognition

MTSU Experimental Vehicles Program adviser Saeed Foroudastan, left, receives the 2016 Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award from company president Jeffery Aznavorian. (Submitted photo)

The Middle Tennessee State University Experimental Vehicles Program has received national acclaim.

MTSU was presented the 2016 Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award as part of the Precision Metalforming Association Awards of Excellence in Metalforming.

The university earned the award for its Experimental Vehicles Program, which provides extensive hands-on experiences gained by creating and assembling vehicles to compete in collegiate competitions.

Saeed Foroudastan, adviser for the program and associate dean in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, accepted the award in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jeffery Aznavorian, president of Clips & Clamps, presented the plaque and a $1,500 grant to Foroudastan.

“This is a very prestigious award because Precision Metalforming Association is a nationwide organization with more than 900 member companies and represents $137 billion of the metalforming industry in North America,” Foroudastan said. MTSU students “are devoted to excellence and working as team members to prepare their projects for competition,” Foroudastan added.

The program includes four experimental vehicle projects that divide students into peer-led teams where they must research, design and manufacture original vehicles. On average, 70 to 80 students per semester participate in the program. Students are able to utilize the skills they gain from the program, including problem-solving, innovation and resourcefulness in the metalforming industry.

The students learn valuable job functions including tensile forming and bending and shearing, which are utilized to manufacture and develop the experimental vehicles. They also receive exposure to fabricating machinery. The program gives students practice in presenting their design reports and technical work, allowing them to not only learn technical skills but also communication skills.

MTSU’s NASA lunar rover team placed first nationally, third internationally and earned the Safety Award and Neil Armstrong Outstanding Design Award in 2015. That year, the solar boat team placed second nationally and earned the Outstanding Workmanship, Outstanding Electrical System Design and Outstanding Drive Train awards.

More than 90 percent of MTSU engineering technology students involved with experimental vehicles have a job lined up in the metalforming industry by the time they graduate or soon thereafter, Foroudastan said. Metalforming industry recruiters want to hire these new engineers as they require less training and are more knowledgeable and utilize problem-solving skills learned in the program, officials said.

The MTSU program receives financial support and mentoring from companies in the industry. Engineering technology is one of 11 College of Basic and Applied Sciences Department.

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