Setex presents to students

Posted On: March 5, 2015

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Setex presents to students
By JANICE BARNIAK
Staff Writer

ST. MARYS — St. Marys fourth graders heard about the engineering and manufacturing process from Setex engineers on Friday as part of their Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) program to connect and apply science and math concepts.

From TV and video games to computers and cars, company representatives told the students engineering is everywhere. Using scientific principles not only makes products the world enjoys, but makes the world safer in and outside the manufacturing environment.

At Setex, engineer Marvin Knapke said, the company makes car seats for the Honda Accord, Pilot and Acura manufacturing about 547,000 seats per year at their local welding and assembly plants.

A seat is more than a frame and cushion. The company installs air bags, wiring and sensors that deploy safety devices in the seats that take about 45 minutes start to finish to create. The company can manufacture a seat a minute, he said.

Staff Photo/Janice Barniak Matt Starr leads a hands on project Friday with STEM students.
Staff Photo/Janice Barniak
Matt Starr leads a hands on project Friday with STEM students.

However, engineering isn’t just for the seats. Matt Starr said part of his job is to design racks that components are on. Engineering is like art work, said Starr.

Brian Zizelman, a manufacturing engineer, agreed, adding that it’s not always easy to do engineering, but the work itself is fun, and amazing when a person considers a company being able to pull off a feat like 2,000 seats manufactured in a day.

Amber Mattraw, a recent graduate and manufacturing engineer, said she was influenced to engineering by Project Lead the Way and her four internships with Setex. She worked with 3D software, programmed a miniature elevator and created a mousetrap race car all before she left high school.

In college, she built a wheelchair lift for a woman who needed one as her senior project. She explained how engineers code movement and how they work to make those processes more efficient.

Students watched a video and Zizelman broke down which movements the students were seeing, and said reading a word, needing to see or recognize an object, the act of dropping something were all coded.

Teacher Kristy Guy explained to students it was like a timed classroom project, but the idea was to have consistency.

The students asked the engineers why sometimes an airbag deploys and sometimes it doesn’t and whether they make or have the materials shipped in.

Brian Zizelman demonstrates how manufacturers isolate repetitive movement tasks for efficiency.
Staff Photo/Evening Leader: Brian Zizelman demonstrates how manufacturers isolate repetitive movement tasks for efficiency.

They also had a chance to try assembling and coding their own movements using the same codes the engineers used to do a small timed task.

Guy said the presentations connect students to the concepts their learning in ways traditional curriculum strategies, like worksheets, do not. At the beginning of the year with the first engineer visit, the students were just learning what engineering is, and what it means to design.

Now, with two thermal energy projects under their belts, as well as another engineering visit, they’re starting to ask better questions and they’re also working better in teams to solve problems and design projects with less supervision.

It’s the first year in Guy’s classroom for this kind of project. The real test will be to see how these students fare when they continue with STEM in the fifth grade.

“If their next teacher says they’re really good at working in groups, or they know this or that concept, then I’ll know how well this worked,” Guy said.

*Re-printed with permission by The Evening Leader.