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USU student recognized for recreating old-world engine using high-tech tools

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LOGAN, Utah -- A couple of photographs showing just a couple of angles was all a freshman at Utah State University used to recreate a working model of an 18th Century steam engine, and now he's being recognized with an award given by the largest engineering company in Europe.

Steam engines were once the primary sources of power, and students at USU recently took on a challenge to bring that piece of history to life.

USU Engineering Professor John Devitry started the project after a visit to the Henry Ford museum in Detroit, where he observed an old steam engine once owned by Ford himself.

Devitry said: "I said, 'That would be a great 3D model, if we could create that in class and make a 3D print of it, and actually get it to work!'”

The museum didn't have many drawings or much information on the piece, but Devitry decided to present the challenge anyway, asking his students to make the steam engine model for the semester's final project using just a couple of pictures from the Internet as reference.

Devitry said: "Initially the kids were a little bit, 'oh it's missing, half of it's missing. Where's the top view? Where's the side?’ …and I said, 'You know what? That's real life. You need to fill in the gaps, and just do the best you can.'"

USU freshman Charles Roos found a special interest in the assignment.

“As I got into it I fell in love with it, and I began to design more and build more detail,” he said.

He said he became somewhat of a perfectionist when it came to even the smallest details.

“These parts take a long, long time and a lot of hours go into these,” he said. “It’s not just building sketches or writing out on graph paper: These take hours to build.”

Not only did Devitry give his student a high grade, he also helped Roos enter his project in the Siemans Solid Edge Design Competition, where it won top honors.

Roos was awarded an iPad mini and a plaque for his achievement.

"That's what engineering is all about,” Devitry said. “We need students who are going to persevere, and keep moving forward, even when there's gaps in whatever it is."

Roos’ design will be featured in a Siemans' software products calendar in 2016.