Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune
Louisiana Tech University mechanical engineering students presented their prototype of a collapsible B-52 tow bar to Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) staff at the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) in Bossier City on Monday, April 25.
The scope of the project focused on updating the B-52 tow bar design to reduce the weight, overall size, and lessen the space occupied during shipment.
The tow bar is about 50-60 feet long, weighs 6,500 pounds, and needs thousands of pounds worth of additional wood shoring when loading on and off cargo planes. Additionally, there are only 20 in existence.
Dr. Henry Cardenas, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Louisiana Tech, explained that tow bar has to accompany the B-52 whenever it moves across the globe.
“Shipping these tow bars is a real hassle for the Air Force. For a while now, one of the things they have been itching to tackle is something to reduce that (tow bar’s) footprint and make it easier to deal with.”
The project was facilitated and managed by CIC, AFGSC partners, and will now be turned over to AFGSC for further evaluation.
Dr. Cardenas went on to note that the project was competitive and required students to bid on the project.
“They all had to turn in a bid memo, resumes, and reasons why they should get their picks. Half the class bid on this project,” he revealed, “and these guys knocked it out of the park.”
Seniors must complete a design project to graduate and higher education institutions are always looking for new projects. Projects usually originate from businesses wanting to support higher education institutions while looking for innovative solutions to internal challenges.
The knowledge gained from the results of the senior projects will help inform AFGSC of emerging technologies and potentially result in further research, solution development, or a request for proposal.