Zachary Katter (2016)

Mechanical Engineering

Zachary Katter spent the last two years as an intern for the Fort Wayne City Utilities, so he gained an understanding of infrastructure. The mechanical engineering major decided on a project that would take him another step further in his knowledge.

Katter built a physical model of a sewer system, specifically one that illustrated the system around Fort Wayne’s pollution control plant. His model is about four feet high and four feet long, with clear plastic that allows a visual look inside at the water flow. He used PVC pipe and other materials for the underside of the model.

Zachery Katter with his senior project“The main point was to use it as a conceptual model, but it is not one that’s hydraulically accurate” due to the size of the model, he said. Katter was able to demonstrate the actions and route water would take if he shut off flow to certain points of the system. The ability to see, on a smaller scale, what’s going on within the sewer system was the foremost intent of the project. “Since I had been working at the city, I wanted to focus my project related to that,” Katter said.

The project is now at Citizens Square, and Katter hopes it can be used by City Utilities moving forward. Katter landed a job working for the city’s engineering department upon graduation.

“There are a couple of things we’re going to tweak on it,” Katter said. “They’re thinking of using it as a learning tool for interns. It gives you an idea of what’s going on underneath the ground.”

Like other seniors with their capstone projects, Katter lost track of all the hours he spent researching, studying, building and sometimes rebuilding his project. “You just have to stay calm,” Katter said. “Patience is a big one. You just can’t give up. That’s the hard thing when you’re balancing classes and everything else. When the pipes break on you or it busts on you, you have to take a little step back and say, ‘This happened, how did it happen and what do I do to fix it now?’ ”

Katter, Indiana Tech’s 2015-16 Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student, feels satisfaction that his project can be used beyond the classroom.

“It’s nice that it can help people understand what’s going on.”