A 3-1/2-day Design-to-Manufacturing Academy provided 15 high school students from Dublin, Livermore and Oakland an opportunity to skills they will need to compete for and land important high-tech jobs, especially those in the shifting manufacturing field.
"We wanted to introduce these students to career opportunities they might not have been aware of before," said Stephanie Beasly, community relations officer at Sandia/California.
"Engineering is a vast technical discipline with various levels and career paths," she added. "Whether kids decide on trade school, an apprenticeship, a bachelor's or master's degree, or a Ph.D., there are good jobs to be found in engineering and manufacturing, and we tried with this pilot academy to show them these possibilities."
The event consisted of three half-days and involved several members of Sandia's technical staff and 15 high school students from Livermore, Dublin and Oakland.
At the DMA academy and with the help of Sandia's technical staff, the students learned, through step-by-step modules, what it takes to manufacture a small part for a robot. Using computer tools and software, they began with the design and modeling phase, followed by a finite element analysis to determine the strength of the part they would be creating.
"The students' own interests and imagination should always serve as the guiding force behind their personal educational and vocation choices," said Ed Woodworth, an instructor with the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program at Livermore High School.
"The value in this academy is that the students clearly saw and understood the broad range of possible careers that will blossom if they remain devoted to continuing their education," he added.
Students watched as a preliminary prototype of the part was printed on a 3-D printer. They then visited Sandia's machine shop where the part was cut out of metal and inspected for quality. Finally, students tested the durability of the product with a tension test to failure.
By the end of the academy, students participated in a complete design-to-manufacture process, resulting in a pair of wheels for a mobot (mobile robot).
"If just one of these students had an epiphany, an 'A-ha!' moment that leads them to pursue manufacturing or engineering as a potential career path, then our event was a success," said Larry Carrillo, engineering services manager at Sandia/California and the originator of the event.
According to a report issued recently by the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (EDA), the Information, communications and technology, energy and biomedical advanced manufacturing subsectors are all highly concentrated in the East Bay, with biomedical expected to grow 1.3% annually over the next five years.
(PHOTO CAPTION): At the first-ever Design to Manufacturing Academy, Sandian Bryant Morgan helps high school students (left to right) Michael Harriss, Zoie MacDougall and Gabe Valenton design a part on the computer. In the three-day academy, area high school students explored career opportunities in manufacturing. (Photo by Dino Vournas)