Wright State student assists with design of Navistar Springfield line

A new axle line at Navistar’s Springfield plant was designed with the help of a Wright State University intern who spent most of the past year working on the project.

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RJ McCoy, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said he wasn’t particularly familiar with Navistar when he was first brought on to the project. Hunter Johnson, another Wright State student who was already working on an internship at Navistar, recommended him for the project, he said. Johnson was also involved in the project.

During the internship, McCoy was tasked with helping design the layout for the sub-assembly of axle suspensions, among other tasks along the line. Navistar is one of the region’s largest employers with about 1,800 workers in Springfield. Thousands of the company’s retirees also live in the area.

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One of the project’s goals during the design phase was to provide enough space to workers as they were beginning to ramp up the number of vehicles produced each day from 75 to about 130, he said.

“One of the ways to accommodate that is giving people more room to complete their tasks,” McCoy said. “When it’s less cramped, they can get more done in that amount of space.”

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McCoy said he started working on the project last year and the line was installed last summer during an annual two-week shutdown typically used for routine maintenance at the plant. Everyone involved had to chip in on various responsibilities, he said.

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“It’s such a massive project that roles and responsibilities get shared out to everybody,” McCoy said. “But everybody also has a say in everything.”

Over the two weeks the line was installed, McCoy said there were numerous revisions and adjustments to make sure everything was right. By the time the work on his part of the project was finished, he was prepared to do more work if needed but optimistic it would be a success.

“Getting that design right and having that functional on the first day was very important,” McCoy said. “Otherwise the line would have shut down, which would have been bad.”

McCoy said he wants to continue with his career in engineering. He wasn’t initially familiar with work in a truck assembly plant but said it’s something he’d be willing to consider now.

“I didn’t consider it at first but it does definitely seem like something I’d be interested in doing,” he said.

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