Nabtesco and Oakland University Partnerships of Tomorrow

Nabtesco has always understood the importance of education.

We believe, as we hope many do, that the students of today are the minds that will shape the future.

In 2012, Nabtesco started its search to find a partner in higher education.

During the search, we found several educational institutions that appealed to us.

One university stood out from the rest. With cutting-edge programs in areas of manufacturing, research and development, Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, has built a reputation for turning out work-ready students in the field of industrial manufacturing.

Through early discussions, both Nabtesco and Oakland University found that working together would bring many benefits.

Getting Started

Oakland University and Nabtesco leaders thought that a good way to start was to inform engineering students about Nabtesco. We held a small seminar, not only explain what Nabtesco and its products were about, but also to show students how many Nabtesco products are a part of everyday life. This ignited the spark to get students thinking about other places Nabtesco gearing solutions could be used in new and innovative ways.

After completing the seminar, the students were challenged to come up with three creative and innovative concepts that involve mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer engineering.

These are the three proposals the students presented:

Ring-making Machine

ring-making machine

The ring-making machine would demonstrate the power or torque of our gearboxes.

Juggling Robot

juggling robot

The juggling machine would show the repeatable accuracy of the gearbox.

Self-balancing mobile robot

self-balancing mobile robot

The self-balancing robot would demonstrate torque, accuracy and moment loading of our gearboxes.

A collaboration of Nabtesco representatives and Oakland University faculty members decided the self-balancing mobile robot would show the best utilization of gearbox features while adding an engaging and creative element to the project.

The self-balancing mobile robot would also allow for a wide range of design possibilities for students from all three engineering disciplines.

Student selection was based on voluntary and academic achievements. After selecting six students (two from each discipline), two additional senior engineering students were assigned as advisors, along with two faculty members to lend additional support. The students would be responsible for managing the projects just like in a real work setting.

To get the project going, the students worked together to create a proposal and presentation of how the various disciplines would come together in the design and construction of the mobile robot.

Student presentations in action:

student presentation in action

As with all good projects, meetings were held and ideas were exchanged to refine the final concept.

final concept

The students were completely responsible for creating all of the mechanical and electrical drawings, and flowchart logic for the programming. The students created basic timelines, including ordering materials, fabrication, assembly, testing and final presentation. In addition, students were tasked with creating a budget, finding different methods of reducing costs and adhering to the final budget once it was proposed.

The students were then grouped in their respective areas. The mechanical team set to work on the detail and assembly parts of the mobile robot fabrication frames and support mechanisms. While the electrical team started with the wiring and testing of the initial electrical systems, the computer team created user interfaces and controls. Students worked in teams of two and would meet once a week or more to discuss their progress.


Mid stages of fabrication, aluminum tubing has been welded in creating the frame. A right angle gearbox and machine bored wheel mount plates have been attached using angle brackets and bolts.

One motor and gearbox, with a custom adapter hub designed by the students is attached as the first axel.

A motor cycle rim has been attached to the axle hub.

motorcycle rim attached to axle hub

The gearbox and axles have been attached and wiring the robot has begun.

gearbox and axles attached

The control boards are mounted and communicating.

control boards mounted and communicating

The Robot controls have all been wired in and connected. First-time power up is a success!

power up successful

power up successful

Having successfully completed the build, the students add some lighting effects to showcase the interworking of the self-balancing mobile robot.

Final Presentation

final presentation

A student from each area of the designated engineering team gives a short insightful explanation as to how they reached their final goals.

final presentation

Student Recognition

student recognition

After a job well done, the students commemorate the event with a photo.

With all of the facets of industrial manufacturing completed on each level, Nabtesco and Oakland University are very proud of all the time and hard work the students put into the project. Without such great engineering students, many areas of industry would never have reached where they are today and will be tomorrow!

A very warm and sincere thank you to everyone in this group for helping make this happen!

nabtesco and oakland university

Nabtesco is also proud to announce that a new collaborative project is underway for 2014-2015. More information about that will be coming soon!

For additional details about the partnership between Nabtesco and Oakland University please contact:

Jim Gruszczynski, Business Development Manager -Nabtesco Motion Control, or Dr. Khalid Mirza, Associate Professor, Faculty Advisor-Oakland University School of Engineering & Computer Science