Students collaborate with Microsoft and Schneider Electric
Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Southside Virginia Community College’s (SVCC) dual enrollment program is taking the student learning experience to the next level. Over the past few months, the students have been collaborating with Schneider Electric and Microsoft to rapid prototype an insulator for a DC terminal block. For these Park View High School students, this involvement has been an invaluable real-world experience.
The proposed project idea started when John Mize, electrical maintenance lead for Schneider Electric, a facility management company for Microsoft, could not find an electrical cover for a high voltage electrical junction box at the Boydton data center. When nothing fit the specifications, he recommended working with SVCC to 3D print the part. Philip Poole, Schneider’s critical facility manager drafted the design parameters and Justin Stansell, an electrical engineer for Microsoft, worked to ensure all electrical insulating properties were achieved.
The next step was involving the Advanced Manufacturing dual-enrollment students who attend class at SVCC at Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center (LCAKC) in South Hill.
Vincent Brown, Professor of Industrial Technologies, presented the challenge to the students.
“Simply put, I asked each student to see how they would write the code for the program and how they would solve this problem” said Brown.
Each one quickly analyzed and researched how they would design a 3D printed electric cover. Utilizing the Autodesk Inventor program, each student inputted their design. Once this task was complete, the parts were sent to one of the 3D printers housed at the LCAKC.
Students and brothers, Kimani and Seita McCarthy, each described how they tackled the challenge.
“I measured the gap holes and then factored in an extra . inch gap, but this left a large gap, which was a safety issue” added Kimani.
“My approach was similar” quotes Seita, “but my overall design had to be tweaked to fit properly.”
Ronnie Boyter and Brianna Murphy each contributed but stressed the importance of measuring for accuracy after printing. “Our main goal was to make sure our designs were safe, precise and ergonomically compliant for Schneider,” they said.
In a classroom setting producing a realistic workforce project is difficult, but when you have the opportunity to work directly with local companies the classroom training morphs into vibrant work experience. Once the fabricated prototypes were tested and modifications made, the part was approved for installation.
Recently, the students met with Mize, Poole, and Stansell, and explained their design methodology. As Stansell listened, he encouraged the teams to learn from each other’s design and collaborate to enhance the overall design.
Both Kimani and Seita have been accepted at Virginia Tech and will pursue degrees in engineering. Murphy has been accepted to Longwood where she is pursuing a Science degree. Boyter plans on attending SVCC in the fall to complete his degree in Industrial Maintenance. This is just a sampling of the outstanding young minds learning and growing with SVCC.
Brown, explains, “The graduates from Southside Virginia’s dual enrollment program, walk away prepared to enter the workforce or to a attend four-year university. Many of the former students are now employed with Dominion Energy, Army Corp of Engineers, NASA, Newport News, MC Dean, and Rolls Royce and many local industries. It’s exciting to be a part of a program that has such a positive impact on the lives of students.”
“Over the course of a year, we start with students who are unsure of what direction or career path they want to pursue, but after exposure to our programs, teachers and training facility, they finish with a clear picture of the direction they want to follow,” said Tiffany Broadnax-Bacon, LCAK Center Director.
One of the goals of SVCC is to prepare students for the local workforce. With small classroom sizes and dedicated teachers, these goals are being met. Whether you call it career, vocational, or workforce training, these dual enrollment students are immersed in technologies of the future. And that is real world.