April 15, 2010

After Nearly a Decade, Ithaca Company Produces Weapon Designed by Cornell Grads

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It’s been a long-time coming, but the 28-gauge shotgun designed by Henry Asante M.E. ’01, Faisal Mahmood M.E. ’01, Chen-Tsuo Yen M.E. ’01 and Chris Tupino M.E. ’01 is finally available for the public’s shooting pleasure. Created as part of a master of engineering final project, the weapon “retains the famed M37 reputation of being an easy gun to handle and point, and its reliable bottom-eject action makes it a favorite of both right and left handed shooters,” according to the website of the Ithaca Gun Company, which manufactures the gun.

“It’s heartening to see it’s actually happening after all these years,” Tupino told the University.

Designed in ProEngineer, a professional design program specifically created for engineers, the design was shelved shortly after completion. As the students waited on word from Ithaca Gun Company that it would be integrated into the product line, the company was undergoing its own problems in corporate flux. Once one of the world’s premier firearms producer, the company counts the famous western gun-slinger Annie Oakley as one of its early patrons. However, it has not manufactured in Ithaca since 1987, and in 2007, the company was bought by entrepreneur David Dlubak, who moved the operations to Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

So when John Callister, a lecturer in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department and adviser to the students’ project, received a call from Ithaca Gun recently, it was a moment he had expected a few years before.

“We fully expected it to be commercialized pretty much immediately … They didn’t keep us in constant communication,” Callister said. “We felt pretty strongly that it was a very obvious product to fit into their line.”

The gun was designed to be produced under Ithaca Gun’s current manufacturing system.

“I’m proud of the job the students did. It was a very professional job,” Callister said.

Student projects turning into money-making and practical endeavors is a relatively common occurrence in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, where both graduate and undergraduate students work on projects of varying disciplines year-round.

“There are projects galore in mechanical and aerospace engineering, but what’s unusual about this is the commercialization,” said Prof. Sidney Leibovich, mechanical and aerospace engineering. “The overwhelming majority of projects come from some student or some group of students who have an interest [in a particular field].”

Other ongoing projects in the department that have practical potential include an annual race car design for an international competition and the pursuit to design a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon, according to Leibovich.

Leibovich also praised the gun’s applicability to Ithaca, even if the gun company is no longer based in the city.

“The fact that students at Cornell are making something that relates to Ithaca is really cool,” Leibovich said.

Original Author: Brendan Doyle