Edward Bednarz, a mechanical engineering visiting professor at Wilkes University’s College of Science and Engineering, was recently awarded a patent for his design of a radar antenna safety brace while working at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Tobyhanna, Pa.
Bednarz was assigned the design project following the accidental death of an Army soldier who was killed while repairing a radar antenna overseas in 2010. The antenna searches for enemy missiles, and the brace designed by Bednarz allows mechanics and soldiers to safely perform maintenance underneath the antenna without risk of injury or death. Tobyhanna Army Depot is currently manufacturing the safety braces for deployment in the field.
After learning he had been awarded the patent on Nov. 13, 2013, he immediately went online to confirm it was recorded. Within minutes, the Tobyhanna resident discovered he was one of over 8.5 million registrants to receive a patent from the U.S. patent and trademark office since 1790.
“The cool thing about the project is that I was involved in everything from start to finish,” Bednarz says. “Along with Bryan Causer, my co-inventor, we started with a conceptual drawing on the computer.”
The design project required him to utilize his educational experience to determine the material and variable sizes of the radar antenna to validate whether or not the brace could sustain a variety of outside forces. Bednarz used a free body diagram from the wind speed and weight of the radar antenna to calculate the force on the brace, which he tested through finite element analysis.
The patent application process has become familiar to Bednarz, who has also applied for a patent for a deflection plate on a mobile dynamometer in July 2012. The device allows for an optimal deflection while maintaining a constant stress distribution on a cantilever beam. Last August, he applied for a third patent for his design of a force transducer, which is a methodology of identifying magnitudes and locations of loads on a beam, such as a large scale bridge.
Bednarz was named visiting assistant professor at Wilkes in Sept. 2013. He currently teaches four undergraduate mechanical engineering courses in addition to serving as a master’s thesis advisor. During the fall semester, Bednarz taught inverse problems in mechanics, a graduate course he designed which utilizes theories from his doctorate dissertation. Students taking this course learn how to solve real world problems using a variety of solutions to test their theories and perform research.
He was awarded both his master of science and doctorate of philosophy in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He also received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Wilkes University.
“You have to love what you do,” he says. Bednarz is optimistic that his future at Wilkes will include helping engineering students pursue careers in testing, designing, manufacturing and project management. The experience he has acquired from Wilkes and working as an engineer for the army has allowed him to learn, practice and develop new techniques for teaching mechanical engineering.