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USI Engineering Department partners with SIGMA Group for enhanced product testing

April 25, 2022

The University of Southern Indiana recently partnered with SIGMA Group to construct electronic testing and repair benches for SIGMA Surplus. The partnership between SIGMA Group and USI's Engineering Department, located within the University's Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education, was facilitated through USI's Center for Applied Research.  

Bradley Kicklighter, Clinical Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology, and two engineering students who also intern with SIGMA Group, Gregory Clevidence '22 and Brenden Bittner '23, worked on the project.  

"This partnership allows USI to engage with our community in a positive way," Kicklighter says. "I am happy to have the opportunity to apply my knowledge of automation to help SIGMA expand its capability." 

The project involves designing and fabricating test benches to test surplus automation equipment (primarily human machine interfaces [HMIs], programmable logic controllers [PLCs] and motor drives). SIGMA Surplus buys used processing equipment for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, and sometimes, a piece of equipment is not worth refurbishing, but the automation components can be resold. This is where USI students come in-to provide better, more in-depth testing of the components than has been performed in the past.  

SIGMA Surplus says these new tools allow testing of a wider range of spare parts and repairing them as well. Through the program, USI engineering students are gaining real-world, career-relevant experience. 

"Working with local companies like SIGMA has been a great way for me as a student to grow and put the things I have learned to use in real world situations, as well as learn things I have not been exposed to in the classroom," Clevidence says. "This project has helped me increase my understanding of the design process and has exposed me to some common industrial equipment that I will likely see in the future." 

"I have learned so much about industry standards and how to work with equipment I am not familiar with," Bittner says. "SIGMA has developed my professional career, and I am very grateful." 

USI's Center for Applied Research (CAR), an outreach program, helps to connect businesses with University resources, including access to 600 faculty members, four colleges, 70 academic programs and state-of-the-art manufacturing and fabrication equipment and facilities. CAR helps individuals, organizations and communities become more successful through product development, market research, organizational strategies, environmental studies and more. 

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