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Manufacturing Engineering Undergraduates Build Automated Robot for Tree Sap Collection

Undergraduate students in the Department of Manufacturing Engineering demonstrated the robotization of the manufacturing operations required for tapping slash pine trees and harvesting their oleoresin. The work funded by the US Department of Agriculture has the objective to demonstrate an autonomous robotic forest rover equipped with an industrial robot, vision and navigation systems that searches mature slash pine trees based on the image analysis of their bark. Upon a positive recognition, the rover approaches the pine tree and the robot executes the manufacturing operations which include:   loading a spindle from a tool stand and drilling three converging boreholes in the pine tree at angles that allow the flow of oleoresin due to gravity; replacing the spindle with a nozzle and spraying the boreholes with resin flow stimulating chemicals and the tree bark with insecticide; replacing the nozzle with a 3-fingers gripper, picking a PVC tube with pre-attached collection bag and tapping one borehole, then picking two plugs and capping the other boreholes.

In Phase 1 of this project, the feasibility of the robot operations is demonstrated in laboratory on a fixed robotic stand, while the rover’s navigation and identification of slash pine trees is demonstrated in field.

This project aims to revive the naval stores industry and the production of turpentine in Southeast United States. Naval stores represented a significant industry in this region, which ones produced 53% of the world’s turpentine. Oleoresin from slash pine (Pinus elliottii Engelm.) represents a renewable and alternative source to petrochemicals for a wide variety of industrial, commercial, and household products.

“What I liked most about this project was how it solidified what I learned in my classes via real life applications. This project vastly improved my machining and programming skills and I learned a lot working on it” said Beau Ragland, who worked on this project under the supervision of Dr. Vladimir Gurau. Beau obtained his B.S. degree in Manufacturing Engineering in Spring 2020 and returned as a graduate student in Applied Engineering at Georgia Southern University to continue his education in Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing.


Georgia Southern’s Manufacturing Engineering Department responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Manufacturing Engineering Department manufactured 600 face shields locally for the university community and 200 face shields for Augusta University’s Medical School to mitigate the spread of the virus. A combination of additive and subtractive manufacturing was used to produce the face shields.


Manufacturing Engineering faculty is awarded multi-department collaborative grant from GDOT

Congratulations to Dr. Krenek on a collaborative grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) entitled “Evaluation of Guardrail Performance in High Risk Accident Zones on Georgia Roadways and Identification of Barrier Alternatives” project welcomes graduate student Caitlyn Stephens to the $179,359.00 project sponsored by the Georgia Department of Transportation. While certain GDOT Districts have initiated some level of data collection regarding accident sites, this effort has focused on cataloging accident locations as a tool for management of repair activities on highway safety structures. No rigorous statistical analysis has been performed on the influence of the type of barrier on the performance of the systems in these high accident zones. This research initiative satisfies a portion of that need. Caitlyn will help greatly with these efforts in the coming months.  


Manufacturing Engineering holds a K-12 Summer Camp

In summer 2020, the Department of Manufacturing Engineering (MfgE) held a manufacturing experience
summer camp at Georgia Southern University (GaSou) Statesboro campus for middle and high students.
The camp lasted five days and introduced students to a variety of technologies used in high-tech
manufacturing environments. The summer camp was an exciting way for students to learn about
robotics and STEM in a high-tech manufacturing context.
We are planning to hold this camp again in summer 2021. The camp presents students with hands-on
activities to develop skills in building robots, programming, and STEM-related topics in robotics. The
camp also invites local manufactures to provide a tour or a guest speaker, which expose students to the
local manufacturing industry and career opportunities. Please keep checking this website for updated

Student Testimonials

  • This camp taught me that the boundaries of coding really are limitless and having this skill in your toolbox can upgrade your potential to succeed in the future.
  • It introduced me to the world of manufacturing and the future careers I could choose in it.
  • It showed me things that I didn’t know it was in manufacturing career.

Senior Undergraduate Student awarded ASNT travel grant

Manufacturing Engineering senior undergraduate Maggie Baechle is awarded a ASNT student travel grant presented her research “Effect of porosity and Internal Seed Defects on Structural Integrity of Additive Manufacturing Parts” in DIGITAL IMAGING AND ULTRASONICS FOR NDT 2020 conference


Manufacturing Engineering Program • PO Box 7991 Statesboro, GA 30460 • (912) 478-2464 • mfge@georgiasouthern.edu