Schnetker awarded patent for aerospace technology

Fort Hays State University's Dr. Ted Schnetker, adjunct faculty in interdisciplinary studies and the Management and Marketing Department, was awarded a U.S. patent for a "Method of Protecting a Capacitor."

Schnetker teaches classes for the Master of Liberal Studies program, of which he is an alumnus, and for the College of Business and Leadership.

He is an engineering specialist for the Hamilton Sundstrand unit of United Technologies Corporation, a global supplier of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products. As well as being a major supplier for international space programs, Hamilton Sundstrand designs and manufactures aerospace systems for commercial, regional, corporate and military aircraft. Their designs help make aircraft safer and more comfortable to fly in as well as improving reliability and reducing running and maintenance costs. The company’s systems can be found in many of the world's commercial aircraft.

"In an aerospace product, two of the primary things you need are light weight and moisture resistance," said Schnetker. His invention addresses this through a "new method of protecting electrical parts that does not involve the usual heavy outer casing."

Schnetker’s invention is used with electrical "capacitors." A capacitor is an electronic device that can store energy in the electric field between a pair of conductors, called "plates." Until now, engineers had designed ways of making the capacitor moisture resistant but had not yet figured out how to reduce the weight. Schnetker's design accomplished both.

His method involves coating the aluminum plates of the capacitor in parylene, which provides moisture resistance and low gas and moisture permeability to protect the electric element from short- and long-term moisture degradation effects. Parylene was used previously, but the parylene was always applied on the outside of the capacitor after heavy protective casings were already built in. Schnetker's design applies the parylene on the inside, making it possible to dispense with the casing, or use a very light one.

Schnetker holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Case Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin, an M.B.A. from the Weatherhead School of Management, a master's degree in organizational development from Case Western Reserve University, a master's degree in liberal studies from FHSU and a doctorate in management from Capella University.

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