Fluid power really is everywhere. At the boot camp, we focused on the larger applications of heavy machinery and hybrid vehicles. Of course I always knew that heavy machinery such as backhoes and excavators were controlled by fluid-filled cylinders, but now I definitely look at them differently. Perhaps I’ll yell “fluid power!” as I bike by such machines on a ride, or pay closer attention to the mechanical design than I did before. Or possibly, I’ll just be a whole lot more amazed at the size of these massive works of engineering.
Closer to home, however, I wish we would’ve learned more about pneumatic power (not just hydraulics) because of their involvement in the lab I work in during the school year, the Human Dynamics & Controls Lab. Projects include a pneumatically-powered ankle-foot orthosis and investigation into soft robotics. I also hadn’t really thought about food-process and manufacturing applications of fluid power. Several weeks ago, my brother and mom came to visit. We went to the World of Coca-Cola, and the most interesting part to us nerds was probably the slowed-down version of the factory. The exhibit showed how the soda is made and the bottles are filled using pressure differentials. A lot of fluid power was involved in the very precise, powerful machinery that manipulates products throughout the assembly line.
Overall, fluid power is very interesting and it’s pretty much everywhere. As I learn more about its powers and uses, I can see how it serves purposes on many different scales. I feel like I’ve become much more aware through this program, and it’ll give me the ability to speak with others (both engineer and non-engineer) about the purpose of the CCEFP and recent developments in fluid power.
Wonderfully tasty things produced with the help of fluid power. Smart Apple is pretty much the best soda in the world.