Last semester, a group of Gannon University students in the College of Engineering and Business (CEB) enjoyed a unique opportunity to work with a Gannon alum and local business owner to commemorate the holiday season through Industrial Design.

The students took part in CEB’s first Ornament Challenge facilitated by the Mechanical Engineering Department and the Center for Advanced Engineering.

CEB opened the Ornament Challenge to all students in November offering them a chance to design their own commemorative Christmas ornament depicting Gannon University. The students not only incorporated their engineering skills, they also demonstrated artistic flare through the challenge.

One graduate student and 11 undergrads participated in the Ornament Challenge. The students were required to submit designs that were not only creative but also manufacturable, using laser cutting methods.

“The students used various computer-aided design (CAD) programs such as Fusion 360 and Pro/Engineer Creo,” said Dr. Robert Michael, PE, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “We had students submit designs, using everything from sophisticated 3D CAD packages to hand sketches.”

The winning first and second-place Christmas ornaments underwent the laser cutting process using Industrial Sales & Manufacturing (ISM) Inc. equipment.

Gannon Trustee Jim Rutkowski Jr., a 1983 BSME graduate and General Manager of ISM, said he “was honored to give the students some real-world design experience.”

“Our company, Industrial Sales & Manufacturing, has six Gannon alumni on staff as well as three student interns,” said Rutkowski. “ISM was glad to be able to give the students a tangible product from their designs in a short timeframe. We are looking forward to more challenges like this to showcase our manufacturing capabilities at”

Through Rutkowski’s partnership with CEB, professors enabled students to hone their skills in the workplace environment.

According to Professor Michael, the students spent from 10 to 40 hours on their ornaments, “depending on the complexity of the design.”

The winning ornament was designed by Adam Mihalko, a graduate student in Gannon’s Masters Mechanical Engineering program. The second-place ornament was designed by Nicholas Devine, a student of Biomedical and Systems Engineering.

The winning ornaments were displayed on the CEB Christmas tree.