By Sean Patterson
While strolling through an American Society of Mechanical Engineering expo in Montreal recently, George Fox engineering dean Bob Harder chanced upon a book that caught his eye – not so much because of the title, but because of the author’s familiar name.
The book, Atlas of the Four-Bar Linkage, was coauthored by Dieter Mueller, which just so happened to be the name of one of Harder’s engineering students. “I thought, ‘What a coincidence. He must be some German guru on kinematics who happens to have the exact same name as one of our computer engineering students,’” Harder reasoned.
Upon closer inspection, however, Harder noticed the display booth showcasing the book was from Saltire Software of Tigard, Ore., whose president, Phillip Todd, had attended George Fox’s Engineering Expo and Reverse Career Fair in December of 2013. Todd attended the event seeking an intern for the following summer – an intern who ended up being Dieter Mueller.
It was then that Harder realized it wasn’t a “German guru” who coauthored the volume but one of his own computer engineering students. “Phil then went on to expound on what an awesome job Dieter had done for them,” he said.
What Mueller, a junior computer engineering major from Salem, Ore., did was help reproduce mechanical images for the Atlas book Todd created years before – a manuscript based on the Atlas of the Four-Bar Linkage (Hrones and Nelson, 1951) that is out of print. Mueller also spent his summer creating simulations of these mechanical devices online, allowing the viewer to see how each part functioned in motion. He also created an app that predicts the cost of the part based on the amount of material it will take to produce and worked on a tool that allows users of the company’s “Mechanical Expressions” software to send any of their mechanical linkage designs to a third-party 3D printing fabricator.
“It was really my first time working with web programming, and it got me thinking I might want to get into that field [upon graduation],” Mueller said. “I enjoyed the visual aspect of programming and gained a greater appreciation for all that goes into mechanical design. If you go into a project knowing just your aspect, like writing a code to make it appear, you don’t fully appreciate all the work that went into designing the parts exactly the way they are. I was able to work from start to finish on a project, which is rare in mechanical design.”
Mueller credits the well-rounded aspect of George Fox’s engineering major for preparing him for the challenge.
“The way they do engineering here at Fox is they put all the freshmen and sophomores in a broad range of classes, so I had taken some mechanical engineering courses,” he said. “Had I gone to a different school and just started right into computer engineering, I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable taking on mechanical design like I did during this internship.”