School of Arts and Sciences

Engineering Students Design New Annunciator Call System for Turtle Creek Fire Department

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pictured are Point Park electrical engineering technology alumni with members of the Turtle Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Council. | Photo by Amanda Dabbs
L to R: Ted Czekaj, Jack Osman, Daniel O'Reilly, David Lott, Michael Bobak and Luther Bellows

Residents in Turtle Creek Borough have experienced a greater sense of safety for the past two years, thanks to a thriving custom fire call annunciator system designed and built for the Turtle Creek Volunteer Fire Department by Point Park University electrical engineering technology students.

Now alumni, Luther Bellows, Michael Bobak, David Lott and Jose Vaccarello built the annunciator in the summer of 2015 for their senior project for the Professional Problems in Engineering Technology course taught by Instructor Lou DeMore.

"Our engineering students do great things for society and this project is just one example of that. It has proven its worth in a real-world setting, helping to protect citizens of Turtle Creek by giving their volunteer firefighters another technological tool to do their jobs more efficiently."

-- Donald Keller, Ph.D., P.E., professor of electrical engineering


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Turtle Creek's Project Proposal to Point Park

The new annunciator project for Turtle Creek was proposed to DeMore’s class by Dan O’Reilly, president of the Turtle Creek Fire Department, electrical engineer for Eaton Corporation and part-time engineering instructor at Point Park.

“This course teaches students how to complete an engineering project using engineering management discipline including proposals, design reviews and final demonstrations, with proper execution of teamwork,” explained DeMore, former president of Acutronic USA.

With guidance from Eaton Corporation, the students designed, programmed and constructed a programmable logic control fire call annunciator panel, enabling firefighters to respond quicker to emergency calls.

“This annunciator system alerts us a lot quicker and it’s unique in its capabilities,” said Jack Osman, Turtle Creek's fire chief.

According to Osman, the annunciator also includes an automatic siren that goes off at 9:45 p.m., notifying residents 16 years old and under of the Borough’s 10 p.m. curfew. 

“This project was also unique because it used new technology as well as artifacts including the bell systems from our old fire stations. The new annunciator is historical, but also very functional and attractive,” explained Ted Czekaj, vice president of Turtle Creek Borough Council.

Czekaj added: “Turtle Creek Borough and its fire department would have never been able to fund a project of this caliber of electrical engineering and technology. The efforts of Point Park’s engineering students turned out to be a truly wonderful thing for our community.”

From the Classroom to the Real World

“Taking classroom lectures and turning them into a working model was very rewarding. All of this was an important learning experience for me,” said Lott, an electrical engineer for Westinghouse.

Pictured are Point Park electrical engineering technology alumni with members of the Turtle Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Council. | Photo by Amanda Dabbs

Also an electrical engineer at Westinghouse, Bobak enjoyed the opportunity to transfer his skills into a real-world setting.

“I got to be a part of accomplishing something that many people would not have originally thought possible in one semester. That gave me a great deal of confidence,” Bobak said.

For Bellows, a senior component engineer for Ansaldo STS, the project taught him important time management skills.

Vacarello, Northeast area manager for Young Powertech Inc., said: “Thanks to my professors and team members, this project exposed me to different scenarios you see in real work environments. I’m glad we were able to make difference for the Turtle Creek Fire Department and most importantly, the community of Turtle Creek.”

In the near future, Vacarello plans to return to Point Park to pursue a master’s degree in engineering management.

Improving the Community Through Point Park Engineering

"Our engineering students do great things for society and this project is just one example of that. It has proven its worth in a real-world setting, helping to protect citizens of Turtle Creek by giving their volunteer firefighters another technological tool to do their jobs more efficiently,” said Donald Keller, Ph.D., P.E., Point Park electrical engineering professor and program coordinator. 

Osman added: “I’d like to thank all of the students who participated, Point Park’s professors and Point Park University for allowing this project to take place. It has been very beneficial to our fire department and the community.”

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