Summer Vacation and ENE 151

By Kimberly Fogarty, TEEP student, Academic Technology Specialist at the Park School in Brookline, MA

Summer Vacation PicAs a student in the Teacher Engineering Education Certificate program, I have come to expect and enjoy relevant readings and projects as part of my courses. Never before was this more true than when my ENE151 class and an amazing Teacher-In-Residence program overlapped this summer. ENE 151 focuses on product design, manufacturing, and human factors and their role within engineering. Offered through the Cape Cod Regional STEM Cooperative, the Teacher-In-Residence program sends accepted applicants to different Cape Cod destinations to learn about STEM in in practice and to develop curriculum for students who visit the facility to link real-life math, science and engineering to the classroom. I applied and was accepted to spend two weeks at SencorpWhite, a Cape Cod corporation that designs and manufactures thermoforming machines and vertical storage solutions.

Throughout these two weeks, I had amazing access to all leaders of the organization, the manufacturing floor and all the skilled technicians, design software, and manufacturing machines. Being at the organization full-time for two weeks allowed me to not only get a great sense of the different aspects of their operation and processes, but to see the wide variation of skills needed to succeed in a manufacturing environment. It was particularly meaningful as these two weeks overlapped exactly with the manufacturing and rapid prototyping units in my ENE151 course. At night I was reading about sheet metal and casting and during the day, observing it in action. Earlier in the term, we had used a CAD program (OnShape) to develop a 3D model for manufacturing, complete with screw threads and precise measurements laid out in a drawing. Thus, I was able to understand fully these documents in action and their role throughout the manufacturing process. It was amazing to see the immense CNC machines and laser cutter in action.

Summer Vacation Pic 2

Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of the experience was being let in on a secret project that exposed me to all the realities of collaboration among different industries, design issues and parameters, iteration, testing and the twists and turns that crop up throughout the process. It was truly fascinating, both in the messy process and the variety of individuals involved, and demonstrated why it is important for students to gain important engineering concepts and the associated skills (like problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and citizenship).

The experience culminated with a presentation to the administrative panel. That afternoon, I was asked by the CEO to sit in on a meeting and share our work with Jay Ash, the Mass Secretary of Housing and Economic Development who was visiting manufacturing facilities on the Cape. I am grateful to Tufts CEEO, Cape Cod Regional STEM Network and SencorpWhite for this amazing learning opportunity.