15:01 PM

MEMS Professor Tony Kerzmann Leads Mechanical Engineering Students on Tour of Local Farms

Written by: Jessica Pendrick

On Saturday, April 15, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Professor Tony Kerzmann conducted a tour of four local farms. Mechanical Engineering students, both undergraduate and graduate, participated in the tour as well.  The visit highlighted the sometimes-overlooked engineering advances that make farming more efficient. The group started at Perks Solar Farm, located in Jefferson Hills, ventured to Maple Valley Cattle Company, and later, local sheep and dairy farms. 

Dalia Chemaitilly, sophomore mechanical engineering student, found the trip “one of the most memorable experiences [she has] had at Pitt.” At Perks Solar, the students gained valuable firsthand experience with solar farming. “[W]e not only saw the solar panels, but also the inverters, combiners, recombiners, transformer, switchgear, etc. all the way up to the point of connection (where the energy is sent to the grid),” said Dalia.  

During the tours, the students got to see how their educational background could be applied in the real world. “I was thrilled to explore engineering concepts beyond the classroom” Dalia mentioned, “As a mechanical engineering student, I have learned about the efficiency of energy production in my thermodynamics class and enjoyed listening to Jerry and Dr. Kerzmann talk about the efficiency of Perks Solar Farm. Additionally, watching the arm of the milking robot move along multiple rods reminded me of various problems that I have had to analyze in my rigid body dynamics class.” 

The tours were a mix of fun and education, but it also helped put into perspective why these students were pursuing an education in engineering. “From observing a solar panel light up a light bulb to watching the sensors of a milking robot scan the udders of a cow, I witnessed just how prevalent mechanical engineering is in every industry. Overall, this trip reminded me of a primary motivation I had for pursuing engineering – to improve the quality of life for people and the planet” Dalia remarked.