Winners were announced on April 19th, Zachary Podkul’s birthday.
This year, for the Third Annual Zachary Richard Podkul (ZRP) Memorial Scholarship Challenge, Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students honored their fellow Husky’s fondness for Michigan Tech, machine design, cooking—and of course, chocolate!
Six MET students in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology rose to the challenge to design custom chocolates.
The students began their thought process on what to design late last year when the contest was announced at the end of fall semester.
They started out by creating a 3D CAD model of their design. Each chocolate could be no larger than 2”x2”x1”. Next, a 3D print of the model was created in the MMET Department’s Additive Manufacturing facility, using the Stratasys Fortus 400 MC, which uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to extrude plastic filament.
The students then each built a flask from poster board strips. The flask held their 3D printed patterns (the positive). Food-safe silicone was poured over the top to cast a silicone mold (the negative).
Once set, students removed their silicone mold from the flask, filled the new mold with melted chocolate, chilled it all to delicious perfection, then popped out their chocolate confections to enjoy—and also to be judged as part of the challenge.
MMET faculty members judged the entries by the following criteria:
- 3D CAD Model—Utilizes sketches fully constrained with parametric features
- Originality—Unique and innovative design representative of Michigan Tech
- Quality—Uniformity, strength and surface finish
- Manufacturability—Ability for chocolate to be easily formed in mold
- Detail—The chocolate conforms to the mold intended design
And the winner is…Michael Havens! He won a $1,000 scholarship!
Justin Hannah earned Second Place and a $500 scholarship.
David Watkins earned third place and a $250 scholarship.
According to the Podkul’s, everyone was a winner!
The Podkul’s also gave gift certificates to the other three MET student who submitted entries: Beaumont Ujlaky, Teresa Hoving, and RJ Slater.
Zachary’s family supports the ZRP Design Challenge and an MET student scholarship through their endowment. It’s intended to ease the financial burden for students who share his MTU experience and for those who live with chronic health conditions. Zachary will always be remembered by his Michigan Tech family and alumni.
Want to join the Podkul family in supporting the Zachary Richard Podkul Engineering Memorial Scholarship? Learn more here.
This year, the Podkuls were able to meet all of the students in person who participated. “We were amazed at their designs and the level of detail,” said Cathy. “And we especially enjoyed hearing the thought process that went into their designs.”
“Zachary’s best times were his college days here at Michigan Tech.”
During the Challenge award presentation, Cathy shared a bit more about her late son, Zachary, who was born eight weeks premature and fought for his health his entire life. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the young age of 10, and spent the next 15 years of his life battling the disease. He passed away in 2020.
“From the beginning Zachary had a mechanical mindset,” she said. “As a young boy, he was always inquisitive and curious about how things worked.”
With this passion for knowledge he enrolled in Michigan Tech and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology.
Cathy describes Zachary as quiet, conservative, intelligent, original, sensitive, and witty, with a great sense of humor. At times, he was strong-willed and determined, too, which of course made him all the more lovable.
“We miss Zachary so much. It’s such a rewarding feeling to support this and to be able to present the awards on his birthday (April 19). My husband and I are grateful to Dr. Irwin, Bryant Weathers, and the MMET faculty and staff for their time and dedication to making these challenges successful for three years in a row.”
The Podkuls plan to honor their late son Zachary with an MET Design Challenge every year. What will they come up with next? Details about the 2024 Challenge will be announced in about six months.