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STC student innovation awarded patent

SAVANNAH, Ga. –Savannah Technical College has been awarded a patent for the historic marker fabrication process. This is based on a project STC students started in 2017, as a fix for damaged historical markers to preserve the past for the future at a fraction of the cost.

The patent approval process was funded by the STC Foundation, which owns the rights to the royalties. Savannah Technical College is the first technical college in Georgia to be awarded a patent. The College is celebrating the patent now because May is National Preservation Month to celebrate U.S. heritage through historic places.

“The Historic Marker Collar Bracket that we celebrate today, was the result of a collaborative effort among faculty and students in Historic Preservation, Drafting and Precision Machining,” said STC President Dr. Kathy Love. “Working together, they identified a way to solve a real-world problem and pursued the solution beyond the concept all the way to implementation.”

STC students initially used this fix to bring Troup Square’s Jingle Bells historical marker back to life after it was damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Since then, students have created and installed a replacement bracket for the Blue Star Memorial marker on Highway 280 in Pembroke, Ga. They are working on a replacement collar bracket for another marker in Effingham County.

Patent number 10847064 for historical marker repair components and methods was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year. From the patent summary of the invention:

This invention solves the problem of historic marker replacement by providing a process whereby broken markers may be repaired without having to re-cast the entire marker. In the preferred embodiment, the repair component comprises a metal casting with an upper channel dimensioned to receive the lower edge of the original plaque, and a lower collar dimensioned to fit onto the existing post.

The lower edge of the existing plaque may be fastened, welded, glued or otherwise secured within the upper groove of the repair component. In the preferred embodiment, however, the plaque is fastened to the repair component using specialty anti-theft bolts. Alternatively, the upper channel of the repair component may include a moveable member forming a jaw that clamps onto the lower edge of the existing plaque. The collar, likewise, may also be fastened, welded, glued or otherwise secured to the upper end of the pole.

A method of repairing a marker including a plaque with a lower edge that has broken away from an existing collar fitted to a post comprising the steps of measuring the width of the lower edge of the plaque and the cross section of the post; casting a repair component including an upper channel dimensioned to receive the lower edge of the existing plaque, and a lower collar dimensioned to fit onto the existing post; installing and securing the lower edge of the plaque within the channel of the repair component; and installing and securing the lower collar onto the existing post, which may be of metal or wood of varying cross section. The casting of the repair component may be of any suitable metal or alloy, including bronze or aluminum.

STC students designed, engineered and cast the channeled historic marker collar replacement bracket or base that could be adapted to fit different marker designs. The collar may be manufactured in large quantities, taken into the field, and used to replace a damaged collars at a substantially reduced cost. Also, it will allow the text section of the signs to be preserved rather than discarded.

“In many of our Traditional Trades course we push the boundaries of methods, materials, and techniques to develop new ways of addressing old problems,” said STC’s Department Head for Historic Preservation Benjamin Curran. “Our intent with this collar design was to provide an economical solution to a regular issue that arises with historical markers.”

Students from the Historic Preservation and Restoration department worked with students from Drafting, Welding and Machine Tool to create the prototype. A mechanical drafting student worked with the original sketches to create a design and print samples of 3D versions. The drafting student’s 3D print was used to create the form that was used to cast the collar mold. Welding students helped to build the furnace that was used to melt aluminum prior to casting. Machine Tool students assisted with CNC machining.

“As an institution Savannah Technical College strives to provide its students with the knowledge and skills that will make them valued members of our local and regional workforce,” said Curran. “Within the Industrial Technology department, we collectively focus on industry need, regardless of discipline. That has manifest itself in constant push to provide our students with opportunities to view themselves not simply technician, but also as contributors to the advancement of their respective fields. Innovation is the key. The historic marker collar replacement bracket perfectly exemplifies our students’ technical talents and creative capacity to further the advancement of the Historic Preservation field.”

STC Historic Preservation students cast the first replacement bracket under the guidance of Visiting Artisan Gary Knappenberger, who helped STC students with a finial casting for the Smithsonian Institute in 2013. He assisted with the mold making process and helped students build a small furnace large enough to melt down aluminum to pour multiple brackets for the casting process.

As the only public hands-on Historic Preservation program in Georgia and one of seven in the U.S., Savannah Technical College has led the way in preservation education, specializing in training not typically held by construction workers. The program has gained international recognition and has contributed to a number of community-based preservation projects in the surrounding communities. Traditional Building Magazine named Savannah Tech’s Historic Preservation program one of the nation’s Up and Coming programs.

For more information visit:www.savannahtech.edu/CenterTraditionalCraft or contact Curran at bcurran@savannahtech.edu or 912.443.5864.

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas, and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of the College may be directed in writing to the SACSCOC at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling 404.679.4500, or by visiting www.sacscoc.org.

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#2139 | May 13, 2021
Media Contact: Amy Shaffer, APR
912.443.5512 or ashaffer@savannahtech.edu