CALUMET, Mich. (WLUC) - OcuGlass in Calumet is now having parts manufactured by high school students. The partnership began when OcuGlass sought a solution to an expensive problem.
"It was kind of almost a failsafe part because when it broke it protected a more expensive part: the robot that moves the glass around the plant. It came from Italy and we saw that there were some design flaws in the original part and it also took a long time for us to get new parts in," said OcuGlass mechanical engineering intern Andrew Rose.
Dollar Bay School Board member Jeff Stevens suggested the company partner with SOAR. The Student Organization of Aquatic Robotics is a student-run, non-profit business within the high school.
"They were really excited. It is really awesome, the stuff they do at that school. To be able to put those kids in a situation where they are working with industry. They were pretty excited. It was a good opportunity for them to raise money for the SOAR program and also a good opportunity for experience for the kids," said Rose.
OcuGlass now pays SOAR market value per part produced on their 3D printers. Freshman SOAR student Dwayne Randell works on improving the part’s design.
"It is pretty crazy because they don't treat you like a high schooler. They treat you like just a normal business partner. That is pretty nice because it gives you real world experiences. Just communicating in a professional manner, I have also learned a lot in that," said Randell.
The business partnership is rewarding on a personal level as well.
"Now that I'm at Michigan Tech, going through these hard engineering classes sometimes you forget about why you started and to be able to work with the kids and to see their excitement when parts come together and work and in the design process makes it so much more enjoyable," said Rose.
SOAR is also prototyping a second part for OcuGlass. Both businesses hope to expand their partnership as it continues.
Links to more information about SOAR and OcuGlass are available in the related links section of this article.