Dynamometer shifts Brighton High auto lab into high gear

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BRIGHTON, Mich. (AP) — Brighton High School senior Kyle Schneider likes operating the engine dynamometer, which has control levers like a powerboat and roars like a drag-strip car.

"I think it's fortunate we have it," said Schneider, who is one of 120 high school students in the school's automotive tech program.

Brighton school officials said they don't know of any other school in Michigan that has an engine dynamometer, which is used to test engine performance. The district paid $51,000 for the dynamometer, using bond money, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( http://bit.ly/1v00eDl ).

School officials said the device will give students hands-on experience and help them secure jobs in the automotive field.

Schneider said not many high school students get to use such a high-tech piece of equipment. Standing at the control levers, he can monitor an engine's RPM, torque and horsepower.

"It's cool," senior Travis Schmidt said. "It's an excellent learning tool."

Schmidt and fellow student Brandon Bonin helped assemble the mule engine used to test the dynamometer; they installed the intake, carburetor and exhaust.

The dynamometer arrived in September, but it took a few months to get the lab room set up for its operation. It's located in a separate room where it's hooked up to a water pump and engine. The exhaust goes through pipes outside, but it will eventually be connected to a large muffler on the school's rooftop.

"There's an infinite value as an educational tool," automotive instructor Rocky Roberts said.

He said students can check cylinder pressure, fuel consumption, air flow and exhaust ratio, and they can run data acquisition. With a scan, Roberts said, students can troubleshoot and figure out what's not working properly with an engine.

Roberts said there's a shortage of diagnostic technicians in Michigan, and he believes the hands-on experience his students are getting with the dynamometer will help land them jobs in the field.

The dynamometer is a circular disk filled with pressurized water that puts a load on the engine. Students can test an engine and rev it to see how it responds; a computer monitor in the room outside shows the engine's vitals.

"It's like we're running it down the road," lab assistant Jim Filipowski said.

Filipowski said it's great giving students hands-on training; he noted students typically use a dynamometer in college, not in high school.

"It's just exciting," Bonin said.

He likes using the dynamometer and seeing it in action. Bonin said the hands-on experience with the device should help him get a job as a mechanic or machinist.

Roberts said staff, students, local residents, contractors and school board member John Conely helped install the dynamometer along with other new equipment in the auto lab. Conely, a local business owner, also has donated numerous engines to the auto lab, and John Hodges of Go-Power Systems provided the dynamometer at a large discount.

Roberts said it's been teamwork among the community that has moved the program forward.

"Everybody shares the same vision," Roberts said. "I want Brighton to have the best auto tech program in the state."


Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, http://www.livingstondaily.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (Howell).

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