Objective: To purchase a new piece of equipment. Goal: To secure a capital equipment grant. Problem: Grant required a plan, a purpose for the equipment. Result: Grant not achieved. Lesson: Every failure is a learning opportunity, a chance to re-think and start again.
And it was that loss that inspired Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School Assistant Principal Jackie Machamer to think outside the proverbial box – why not give the students a chance to partner with small and emerging businesses and help them achieve their real-time goals and objectives? Thus, OC Creates was born.
Problem solving and strategic thinking are part of each and every school day for OCRVTHS students. Students design and build, working in inter-discinplinary teams as part of their academic and shop experience. Now the school has a program that focuses solely on bringing real world problems into the shop while helping the students develop their skillsets in a richer, more layered experience.
OC Creates gives the students a chance to interface with local businesses and assist them by designing and building prototypes of equipment or pieces of apparatus that perform within the businesses’ industrial atmosphere.
“This is a new venture pulling together different shops whose collaboration will bring to fruition a product for a client,” Machamer said.
On May 18, Machamer, along with department heads Al Amaral, Mike Ferreria, and Mike Richards, introduced the students whose efforts created a hoist device for Anchor Insulation of Pawtucket, RI.
Acushnet senior Felisha Shiner from the metal fabrication and joining technology shop, Assonet junior Sky Bowker of CADD drafting and design, and Mattapoisett junior Nat Nicolosi from machine and tool technology explained how that collaborative process came together.
“I want to major in design,” said Bowker. “I did the detail drawings to build a machine to lift insulation, which is heavy.”
Prior to the development of the hoist machine, workers at Anchor had to either work on the floor or struggle to manually lift heavy rolls of insulation, Chris King of Anchor explained.
Shiner took Bowker’s drawings and thought, “I got this.”
The team would later learn that, sometimes, the first plan is not always the best plan, as half way through the construction process they had to go back to the drawing board. Shiner expressed her emotions at that juncture: “holy crap!”
In the end, the students’ focused efforts resulted in a finished product that Anchor could use to improve ergonomic functioning on their factory floor.
“It was a fun experience,” King said, finding the students to be “very impressive.” “Our expectations were exceeded.”
King plans to remain in contact with OCRVTHS and to try to “reciprocate and help partner students with real time projects in the field.” King had tried to work with vocational schools in Rhode Island, but they were unresponsive. As a Lakeville resident, he knew of OCRVTHS and has a nephew who is a student at the school.
“They were very responsive,” he said.
The group then went outside to see the finished product as Shiner demonstrated how it works to the clients.
Representative Bill Straus, who was on hand to witness the unveiling of the hoist, told the students, “I’m blown away by your presentation. You’ve already done the kind of skills that are useful outside the school. You’ve translated a concept to real life. A day like this is special.”
Principal Karen Guenette told the assembled, “Watching the stages, there was not only a great team building but a level of pride. They are proud. They know customer satisfaction is important. This was a great partnership.”
“Stuff like this happens all the time here,” Machamer said with a smile. With the development of OC Creates, the business community may now tap into the potential waiting to be explored at OCRVTHS.
For more information on how your business may partner with OC Creates, contact Jackie Machamer at 508-763-8011 ext. 119.
By Marilou Newell