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The ice hockey rink maintenance staff at Union College identified a need for a machine that would be cost effective, and allow them to quickly replace a piece of broken tempered glass during a game. They reached out to the Mechanical Engineering department to come up with a solution that would be customized for their particular needs. A few of my peers and I were tasked to design a solution in the span of 10 weeks. During this effort, I partook in all aspects of the design process, including communicating with the end-user, evaluating a number of design options, and building and testing a prototype. I was heavily involved in planning a schedule for the project, and I took the lead on creating the technical data package to ensure that our final design could be built using readily available materials.

Device to Install Tempered Glass in Hockey Rinks

“Hey Harry, it’s Barry at Union College ice rink. The lift worked. We had a broken piece of glass in the third period with one minute left in the game. It took 16.5 minutes to change the glass. Good work.” – Barry Collins, Union College Ice Rink Maintainer






One Trimester (10 weeks)

Initially, our team met with the Union College rink maintenance staff to discuss their most important needs and to determine requirements for the project. Empathy maps for the most essential characters (i.e. fans, rink maintenance staff, and hockey players) were created to identify pain points with their current glass replacement process. Next, we met to generate a problem statement and to discuss design concepts. Ideas were evaluated based on their simplicity and feasibility related to the requirements set by the rink maintenance staff, and then a low-fidelity prototype was fabricated.

The prototype was tested by the rink maintenance staff and the design team to determine if it was a suitable solution for installing tempered glass. The aspects of the design that were tested included:

1) Tilting the glass from an upright position to clear any obstructions in the storage space
2) Maneuvering the lift from the storage space to the ice rink
3) Connecting and removing the counterweight
4) Connecting and removing outriggers
5) Making sure the overhang distance of the glass is enough to clear the dashboard and allow it to be placed into the C-channel without any evident difficulty
6) Estimating the amount of time it takes to get the pane of tempered glass from its storage position to the position where it is ready to be lowered into the C-channel and installed



Team of 5

The I-frame is designed to support the weight of a 300 lb pane of glass using four suction cups. Two push bars allow the rink maintenance staff to position the pane of glass in one of two orientations, a 0° or a 30° position with respect to the vertical plane. In the 30° position, the glass is effectively tilted backward so that it can fit under obstructions found in the storage area while being transported. Additionally, a telescoping arm was implemented to guide the glass while it is tilted. Outriggers were included to reduce the risk of the apparatus tipping over.

Project Planning & Low-Fidelity Prototype

Prototype Testing with End-Users

Structural Analysis & Final Solution