Industrial Engineering in the Classroom

engineeringRecently, seventeen students from Virginia Middle School and Virginia High School were invited to Strongwell to learn more about engineering and industrial design. Many thanks to Debbie Browning (Teacher-Virginia Middle School) for introducing and motivating her students to gain an interest in STEM fields. She currently teaches an “Introduction to Engineering” class where students are exposed to experimenting with 3D printers. Due to their classroom experimentation, Debbie wanted the students to understand how classroom instruction could apply to real-world design, which led into a request to visit the world’s largest pultruder of fiber reinforced polymers.

During their visit, they were introduced to Strongwell’s primary manufacturing process, pultrusion, by David Ring (Manager of Governmental Affairs and Strategic Projects), and were given tours of pultrusion machines and the lab by Stephen Browning (Structural Engineer-Bristol) and Meghan Carty (Pricing Manager). Jeff Chandler (Mechanical Engineering and Machinery Manager) also explained how electrical engineering applied to pultrusion machine design. Miles Brown (Research and Development Engineer- Bristol) illustrated how Strongwell utilized technology such as Autodesk Inventor, FEA Analysis, 2D/3D drawings and modeling could benefit advanced manufacturers through 3D printing. As an illustration, Miles and the class discussed how a pizza delivery drone could hypothetically increase its payload with a complete material redesign by replacing stock metallic arms with carbon fiber versions.

To close out the visit, Miles and the students conversed in-depth as to how and when artificial intelligence will begin to play a larger role in industrial design. The students left Strongwell with a deeper understanding of how engineering education translates into real-world application, as well as a clearer picture of the complex nature of advanced manufacturing.