PF Blog

Clemson U. Grad Student Wins MTConnect Challenge

By: Mark Albert
11. April 2014

Valerie Pezzullo explains her prize-winning application to MMS Editor-in-Chief Mark Albert at this week’s [MC2] Conference in Orlando Florida.

Winning $100,000 in a national engineering contest is a remarkable feat, especially for a 24-year-old graduate student like Valerie Pezzullo, who is completing her master’s in mechanical engineering at Clemson University. Her application, Machining Process Monitoring to Aid in Chatter Identification, was voted the top entry in the MTConnect Challenge 2 contest this week at the [MC2] 2014 MTConnect: Connecting Manufacturing Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Attendees at the conference voted on the five finalists to choose the top three winners. In addition to the $100,000 first prize, a $75,000 second prize and a 50,000 third prize were also awarded. All of the finalists demonstrated the value of the MTConnect standard as a key enabler of creative, yet practical, applications that promised to have far-reaching benefits for manufacturers in the United States.

After the results were announced and the cash prizes awarded, I had a chance to find out a little more about Valerie’s interest in engineering, and discovered what I think is important clue in her background that might account for her unique ability to develop a winning entry. She told me that before she settled on engineering as her college program, she was drawn to creative pursuits such as music and theater. Her natural interest in and talent for math and the sciences, however, proved a stronger attraction.

Valerie explained that one of her first engineering courses included an introduction to CNC machining. That really got her hooked on the engineering aspects of manufacturing. Noting her earlier artistic interests, I ask Valerie if she found an outlet for that inclination in engineering. She agreed that there were many opportunities to be creative and inventive in her chosen path. Conceiving, designing and constructing the test equipment and related experiments proved this many times, she said.

It would be great if she can carry that message to other young women and men who might be considering careers and engineering, science or manufacturing. She can show them that these are fields in which the creative spark can certainly catch fire.

For more details about the MTConnect Challenge 2 and information about the finalists, click here.

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