Daniele DeFranceschi, Coordinator of the Mechanical Engineering Technician – Industrial program and one of several Faculty Researchers at St. Clair, is heading the mattress project.
"This will be a mattress that adapts to your specific pressure points automatically, and that's something new on the market," said DeFranceschi. The mattress is targeted more to the elderly and those who cannot move while they are in bed for whatever reason, he said.
"If something is a little sore, many – without even noticing – move a little bit to relieve the pressure. But if you don't have that ability, that's a recipe for bed sores," explained DeFranceschi.
With three grants from the provincial government, DeFranceschi was able to hire three students to assist him on the project, which began in January. The team is studying how to relieve pressure points by creating a mattress that senses them and works to relieve them.
"So what the mattress has to do is sense where that high pressure area is, maybe on the shoulder or wherever, then it has to pull back on those certain springs to relieve pressure or push up on the surrounding area to support more," explained DeFranceschi.
He said this controlled problem is a great opportunity for students to get some hand-on experience in the field of mechanical engineering, such working on different fabrication techniques.
"It really ties in well with the Mechanical program here," said DeFranceschi. "Even though it's a mattress, it's applied to their field because all the mechanical parts that they're making and creating is right in line with what they're studying."
This is one of several applied research projects that faculty and students are currently working on. These projects are part of St. Clair College's mission to connect students with jobs.
Students receive practical experience while they're here at the college, and participating in a research project is another avenue for students to do that. These projects are hands-on, and provide great problem solving experience for students.
With a family background in working on race cars, DeFranceschi said he is also excited to be a part of another more recent research project at St. Clair.
"A community member has an idea to make some racing cylinder heads that aren't on the market," explained DeFranceschi. "They need them CNC cut and we have those capabilities here at St. Clair College to do that."
These research projects are a great way for students to get paid experience in their field of study at St. Clair College, said DeFranceschi.
"These projects are great for a great tool for students, they strengthen industry ties and it's great for us teachers to see students get excited about projects outside of the classroom like this," said DeFranceschi.
O'Neil said if you have an idea for a research project, or for students who are interested in working on an applied research project, contact him at 519-972-2727 ext. 4496 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.