Kent CIO “There were a time or two when Isaac Clark held a Tim Hortons donut box and wondered if it came from one of the molds he created.
The Caledonia eldest, who is also an engineering and architectural design student at Kent Career Tech Center, spent the summer building dies at Kentwood’s Michigan Lasercut and is now an intern there, creating patterns for the dies used to cut candy boxes such as Milk Duds, McDonald’s Happy Meals and Tim Hortons candies.
“When I thought of engineering, especially mechanical engineering, I thought of more, like gears and motors — pretty much cars,” Isaac said. “I had never thought of it for packaging, like creating a box.”
It’s not an uncommon perception, and it’s part of the reason Steve Schroder, president of Michigan Lasercut, said he decided to offer an internship.
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Michigan Lasercut is a tool and die company for printing and packaging. When manufacturing the packaging, the company produces three different dies: the first cuts the shape of the box, the second strips or removes scraps, and the third die, which is used for cutting, pushes the final product to the ‘outside.
Models for each of these matrices must be created and produced for the matrices to be built.
“Looking around my store, I could see that our employees were aging and starting to age out of the workforce,” Schroder said, adding that he saw the next generation wasn’t at the current or not looking for jobs in technical fields. such as those offered by Michigan Lasercut.
Schroder wanted to help develop an interest and encourage students, so he contacted the Kent Career Tech Center and was put in touch with a few teachers, including Lawrence Ridley, the Tech Center’s engineering and architectural design instructor.
“Internships, for students with the skill level and attendance that employers need to consider, allow students to increase their experience in real employment, where they learn and increase the application of the skills they have acquired in the program,” Ridley said. Some have become full-time employees after their internship or work in the summer while attending university.
For students, internships like Michigan Lasercut not only offer them the opportunity to get paid for something they are interested in, but also teach them how to interact with colleagues, meet deadlines, and manage their time.
“I think there are a lot more opportunities to work here than a college student who just got a job at a fast food restaurant,” Schroder said. “Not only do you make money, but you also develop a skill in something you love.”
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Schroder said it’s essential for students to learn how to construct matrices before working on models.
“I think working in the workshop was helpful because it gave me a better understanding of how the matrix was built,” said Isaac, who spent the summer building matrices. “You have to pay attention to where the (guide) pins are, to make sure the right shape is created.
“I really hadn’t realized how complicated it can be to create a box.”
His internship began in the fall. He attends the Tech Center two days a week and is at Michigan Lasercut the other three.
“I visited the workplace because I want to make sure we match them with the right student,” Ridley said. “Isaac is a good candidate. He is hardworking and not afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s a good designer. »
Currently, Isaac is working on the first die, which cuts out the shape of the box. The designs get more complicated as the box progresses through the system. Isaac will have worked through all levels of the process before his internship ends next spring, Schroder said.
His passion: Making stuff
Isaac can trace his interest in engineering back to fifth grade, when he participated in Vex Robotics, a program for elementary through college students.
“It’s always been a favorite subject, being able to see how things are made and making things,” he said.
In high school, he decided to continue exploring through the Tech Center, which he says allowed him to explore different types of engineering. One was to be able to work with SolidWorks, a computer-aided modeling (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) application published by Dassault Systèmes, a French software company.
He plans to pursue industrial design after graduation, which will allow him to continue working with SolidWorks, instead of mechanical engineering.
“I really like the idea of putting it on the computer and then holding the model in my hand,” Isaac said.