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Seniors tackle Honda challenges with capstone efforts

A capstone team presents their project plan to Honda officials and fellow studentsFrom sustainable seat coverings and logistics to automated visual inspections and die casting, students have a lot of ideas to solve issues at Honda.

Thanks to the capstone program, which is part of the Honda - Ohio State Partnership, engineering students have a chance to prove them. About 80 students gathered this month to give short presentations on the 20 capstone projects they are working on with Honda associates from companies including Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM), Honda Engineering North America (EGA), Honda Transmission Manufacturing of America (HTM) and Honda R&D Americas (HRA).

The Ohio State students in the program bring fresh eyes and ideas to issues seen across the company in the hopes of gaining some real-world experience. HAM IT Department Staff Engineer Steve Baker, a mentor on several current and past Ohio State capstone projects, said he’s a believer in the program.

“Honda’s relationship with Ohio State and their capstone program provides a great opportunity to take real Honda challenges, with the hope of engineering a solution to solve it,” Baker said.

Katarina Pokrajac was in the seats of the Ohio State students just one year ago. She worked on a capstone project at the Anna Engine Plant based on automating the visual inspection process. She is now a full time electrical engineer at HRA. She encouraged students to work hard on their capstone projects and take advantage of all the opportunities it brings.

Some of those opportunities include a possible job in the future. Madison Edmonds, campus recruitment team coordinator, HR Division, Honda North America, was on hand to speak with students about jobs and how to apply. Students also got a lesson on something they’ll become familiar with if they join Honda. Shubho Bhattacharya, associate chief engineer and co-director of the Honda - Ohio State Partnership, Honda North America, talked about Honda Core Values such as challenging spirit, passion and dreams—something many students will utilize over the course of their capstone projects.

Honda's Rick Schostek (left) talks with Mechanical Engineering Professor Russell Marzette at the Honda Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Design at Ohio State where students work on their Honda capstone projects.

While Honda benefits from the capstone projects, students gain a multitude as well in hands-on experience and much more.

“The Honda - Ohio State capstone program is a centerpiece of our efforts to give students a taste of real industry experience before they graduate,” said Professor David Tomasko, associate dean for Engineering Undergraduate Education and Student Services at Ohio State.

And the capstone projects got the students a little face time with Honda North America Executive Vice President Rick Schostek—never a bad thing. In fact, Schostek thanked them for their help and offered a little inspiration.

“For us, improvement and innovation is endless,” he said. “These are real problems and real opportunities for us and our business. You’re helping Honda with each and every one of these projects.”

by Jennifer Bishop, Honda North America Corporate Communications