Dream Situation (sort of)


Thread Starter

David Hardy

Pop Quiz. You start a new job at a university and the university gives you $130,000.00 to spend to automate your theatres. How do you spend the money?


My name is David, new Technical Director at Baylor University. I recently started my new position and the department chair informs me of a possible grant for $130,000 for us to use for stage mechanics. I don't have much time (only days), so I am fast and furiously trying to find specs, costs, venders, softwares, details on pc operation (like types of control cards), anything and everything. We do have a 5 hp, 80 gallon air compressor for pnuematics, but almost no hydraulic or electric motor capability as of now. Your assistance will be much appreciated.


Clint Sanders

If it were me, I would want to do something that I would be remembered for, to leave a legacy if you will. Being short on time, save yourself the hassle of designing a complex system, & divide the money equally between the EE student body - you know something to be remembered by.
The first (and probably most difficult) is sitting down and defining exactly what you have to accomplish. Then, quit re-inventing the wheel, and find out how other theaters do it. You may have to tweak this and that detail to fulfill your own needs but you will probaboy find 90% of what you need already done.
Dave, I think you are in for a very rude surprise. $130K is not going to go very far in automation. I would suggest you involve the university ME and EE departments and students. Get the instructors of those departments involved in spec-ing out the system, sell it to them as a student-project opportunity. The more leg work they do for you the better for you, and you'll come out looking good. You may be under the gun to get the grant, but get your superiors to give you the time to implement the project in a way that will benefit the most students possbile by spreading it to the engineering departments of the school. The more free engineering you can get the farther your money will stretch.

Our company works with the local U on several projects involving students. When properly guided they are a good engineering resource, and society benefits frome something rare: a fresh grad with a little experience.

Peter Whalley

Hi all,

Getting the students involved sounds like a good way to string the project out for years. If you really only have a few days then options are:

1. go to a very experianced consultant and get them to spec the system for you

2. go to a very experianced contractor and get them to do it Design and Construct. This is probably quickest.

You have very limited time and money so quality is going to suffer but such is life.


Peter Whalley
Peter Whalley:
> Getting the students involved sounds like a good way to string the project out for years. If you really only have a few days then options are:

I suspect the `few days' are for putting together a grant proposal, with the project itself to take as long as it takes.

Getting another faculty involved will keep the money `home', within the university, which would probably look good on the proposal; on the other hand, it may embroil one in whatever inter-faculty politics there are.

Ideally you'd personally know someone in Engineering, and could thus simply go to them and ask for their take on this...

Jiri Baum <[email protected]> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
MAT LinuxPLC project --- http://mat.sf.net --- Machine Automation Tools
Thank You everyone for your suggestions. I really like the prospect of involving another department. I am also using the websites. I REALLY appreciate your assistance.

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