Inside Rensselaer
“Candy Rocket” Earns AML Students Kudos from ASME
The candy rocket was created by a team of students that included Christina Laskowski (above), with guidance from (l-r) Samuel Chiappone, Daniel Walczyk, Lawrence Ruff, and Stephen Derby.
A team of Rensselaer students took second place in October at the 2008 ASME Student Manufacturing Competition for their method to produce and assemble rocket-shaped candy dispensers.

Intended to be fun and inexpensive toys or corporate promotional giveaways, the colorful dispensers use gravity to propel small candies such as M&M’s or Skittles down a spiral path within the base of the rocket, before jettisoning the treat through a nozzle.

Results of the competition, which is sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), were announced at the organization’s 2008 ASME International Conference on Manufacturing Science and Engineering (MSEC 2008) in Chicago.

The award-winning project grew out of an assignment in the School of Engineering course Advanced Manufacturing Lab (AML). As part of the class, teams of students were given conceptual product designs from the Product Design and Innovation studio class at Rensselaer, and asked to devise the best way of manufacturing the item. The second part of the project was to employ this manufacturing method — everything from buying components and devising quality control oversight to producing, tooling, and programming robots — and demonstrate that it could work. The team had six months and $3,000 to make it happen.

Under the guidance of AML professors Dan Walczyk and Steve Derby, as well as course manager Sam Chiappone and systems engineer Larry Ruff, the candy rocket team produced more than 600 of the dispensers, which each stand more than 10 inches tall and are made up of nine individual components. The nozzle, dispenser, and helix are injection-molded while the remaining parts are vacuum-formed, laser-cut, or cut with an abrasive waterjet. The team designed a system of robotics and fixed automation to assemble all of these components into finished candy rockets.

Candy rocket team members included Rensselaer students T.J. Kieper, Joshua Desjarlais, Syed Ali, Kate Laaser, Nelson Chiu, Scott Bouwer, Greg Russell, Daniel Morse, Billy Grayson, Jason Jammallo, Christina Laskowski, Steve Salomon, and Ricky Estevez. Laskowski traveled to the ASME conference in October to present and demonstrate the group’s finalized manufacturing system, and, ultimately, accept the second place award.

“AML was definitely one of the highlights of my RPI career, and certainly the best class RPI has to offer,” Laskowski said. “It was incredibly rewarding to see our designs and systems come to life through the class, and very fulfilling to represent RPI at the conference against such stiff competition. I encourage more people to get involved in AML and similar projects—this has been a tremendous experience — and a lot of fun, too!”

To watch videos of the candy rocket dispenser manufacturing process in action, go to http:// and search for “RPI AML 2008 Candy Rocket.”

For more information on the 2008 ASME Student Manufacturing Competition, visit For more information on Rensselaer’s Advanced Manufacturing Lab, visit:
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 1, January 16, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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