Eighth-graders in South Orangetown Middle School technology classes have been experimenting with a new tool: a computer numerical controlled (CNC) laser engraver and cutter.
Technology teachers Ms. Kerry Beckmann and Mr. Louis Chugranis, Enrichment and Technology Teacher Mr. Andrew McIntosh and Library Media Specialist Kim Landgraff were trained on safety, as well as design and fabrication applications, in mid-February, and then rolled out the tool for supervised student use. Students used the laser to engrave designs they created using AutoCAD (commercial computer-aided design and drafting software) and Adobe Photoshop on keychains made from salvaged wood and on their anodized aluminum cell phone cases.
“The manufacturing industry is moving from mass production to mass customization,” explained Mr. Chugranis. “These kids know more about CAD at 13 and 14 than I did my freshman year at Cornell.”
Eighth-graders in Mr. Chugranis’ Design and Drawing for Production class recently spoke about their new tool and the high school level engineering course, as they designed and engraved keychains. “I like hands-on projects and working with other people,” said Riley R. “Being introduced to new technology helps to expand our understanding of engineering and to see the creative aspects of it. I feel like it’s preparing us for high school engineering. And you get to make things you’d use and keep what you’ve made.”
“When you first start off on a project, you feel pressure to make it perfect,” admitted Catherine M., while setting up a new design in AutoCAD. “It’s a mindset challenge. Mr. Chugranis makes us do things independently, because that’s the way we learn. We take safety tests and learn to use a lot of cool tools. This class shows us all the things we’re capable of doing.”
Riley added, “You’re always challenging yourself and when you accomplish a task, it feels really good.”
The CNC laser provides South Orangetown Middle School students with additional opportunities to engage in engineering, computer-aided design and manufacturing. “This is applied math, science and art,” said Mr. Chugranis. “There are applications for carpentry, architecture, graphic design, the biomedical industry and even patent law. And learning to use new technology wires your brain differently.”
Interested in learning more? Mr. Chugranis shared the following links to articles regarding mass customization:
- Gandhi, A., Magar, C. and Roberts, R. (2013, Winter). How Technology Can Drive the Next Wave of Mass Customization. McKinsey on Business Technology, 32. Online at https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/bto/pdf/mobt32_02-09_masscustom_r4.ashx.
- Gilmore, J.H. and Pine, B.J. (1997, January-February). The Four Faces of Mass Customization. Harvard Business Review. Online at https://hbr.org/1997/01/the-four-faces-of-mass-customization.
- O’Marah, K. (2015, January). Mass Customization and the Factory of the Future. Industry Week. Online at http://www.industryweek.com/factory-of-future.
- Weintraub, A. (2013, November). Is Mass Customization the Future of Retail? Entrepreneur. Online at https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229869.