Hands-on mentoring program propels students' pursuit of engineering

At a time when workforce development is of paramount interest to manufacturers, an Atlanta-based company is continuing its effort to help high school students find their way into engineering careers.


At a time when workforce development is of paramount interest to manufacturers, Atlanta-based EMS Technologies, Inc. is continuing its effort to help high school students find their way into engineering careers.
A founding sponsor of Norcross (GA) High School's robotics team , EMS announced Wednesday it will continue its support of the team by renewing its grant for a fifth year. And, in addition to the funding of the team, the company has made machining lab resources available and encouraged its engineering staff to mentor the students over the six-week period they have to design, build and ship their robot. The school will join 50 teams next week at the 2008 FIRST Peachtree Regional at the Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center in Duluth, GA.
Leading up to the competition, EMS engineers have volunteered significant time reviewing student-designed CAD files of the robot pieces, designing some of the more elaborate parts, and overseeing the students' mini-machine shop at the school's engineering lab as they fabricate some of the robot parts. EMS helped fund the shop, which includes drill presses, saws, a milling machine, a lathe machine, and numerous hand tools.
This year's “Overdrive” game requires that the students' robot repeatedly pick and throw a ball measuring 40 inches in diameter over a six-foot high frame, all while navigating a course. The challenge is to be able to stay within a weight limit while making a robot that can to be extremely tall and not tip over. Norcross's robot, when it completely unfolds, can reach over seven feet tall and can catch and maneuver in any direction. The students created the software to drive the robot, and with the unique wheels they designed, the robot can maneuver in virtually any direction.
Norcross High School senior Michael Kahn, president of the Norcross Engineering Team, said that EMS mentors “not only help with the construction of the robot but also teach members of the team engineering practices that took years to learn.
“Our partnership with EMS has also allowed us access to facilities like the machine shop.
Students are always thrilled at the chance to visit EMS and see the engineers at work. EMS engineers are our friends and colleagues in FIRST, and we could not compete without them.”
Second-year mentor Jeff Beach, a mechanical engineer in EMS Defense and Space Systems, added, “It's overwhelming to me to see what they could come up with %%MDASSML%% it makes me very optimistic in the future when I see how much these young people want to put their minds to work and make something of themselves in a career that can really push them ahead.
“All the students I've talked with want to become mechanical and electrical engineers. It's very gratifying to be involved in this program,” Beach said.

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