Report Of The Vincennes University Advanced Manufacturing Program

To merely label the IMTS 2008 experience as “successful” would be an understatement. A more appropriate adjective would be “amazing!”This year’s IMTS experience was much more extensive than that of 2 years ago due to the sharp increase in enrollment in the Advanced Manufacturing program. With an enrollment increase of more than 300 percent in just 2 years, 28 students accompanied Vincennes University HTEC Director Doug Bowman and the new Advanced Manufacturing instructor Tim Bauer for the week-long show.

To merely label the IMTS 2008 experience as “successful” would be an understatement. A more appropriate adjective would be “amazing!”

This year’s IMTS experience was much more extensive than that of 2 years ago due to the sharp increase in enrollment in the Advanced Manufacturing program. With an enrollment increase of more than 300 percent in just 2 years, 28 students accompanied Vincennes University HTEC Director Doug Bowman and the new Advanced Manufacturing instructor Tim Bauer for the week-long show.

What started out 4 years ago as a generous grant from the Lilly Foundation and a budding partnership with Haas Automation has turned into a constant stream of life-changing experiences for the students enrolled in the third-year Advanced Manufacturing program at Vincennes University. Along with their advanced training, special opportunities such as attending IMTS enable graduates to make a difference in the companies that hire them.

The 2008 show posted its strongest showing since the year 2000. Total registration for the 6-day event at McCormick Place in Chicago was 92,450 people from 119 countries. There were 1,803 exhibiting companies occupying 1,233,878 square feet of exhibit space.

This year’s show attracted a large number of student attendees, but VU students were not there just to attend the show. They were there to work as part of the Haas team in the 17,000-square-foot Haas Automation booth. With training received at VU, students were able to take shifts operating several of the 43 Haas CNC machining and turning centers in the booth throughout the week. One of the greatest benefits of operating the machines was the interaction with people of diverse backgrounds as they visited the booth. Other benefits include the opportunity to learn more about the machines they were operating and to get to know the good people at Haas Automation.

Over the course of 6 days, more than 60,000 pounds of steel and aluminum were transformed from billet stock into complex parts on the high-tech machines.

The students were very excited to have the opportunity to operate Haas CNC machines at the international event. Responding to the inquiries from the intrigued visitors to the Haas booth, the grateful VU students were eager to share the story of the VU/Haas partnership. With the widespread shortage of skilled CNC programmers and machinists in today’s workplace, the students generated a lot of interest, and they were on the receiving end of several job offers from shop owners as they visited the Haas booth.

It wasn’t all work and no play at the show. Haas generously scheduled free time for the students to walk through the several miles of aisles to see the latest in manufacturing technology. Students visited booths to learn about machining, cutting tools, lasers, robots, CAD/CAM and many other modern processes. The students also fulfilled requirements given to them by their professors to research a machine tool company and a tooling manufacturer. They also had to prepare a report for the class in the weeks following the show. Students also attended seminars on various topics in manufacturing in the Innovation Center at the show. As the students walked the show, they were highly visible in their white VU polo shirts and gold name badges provided with funding from the Lilly grant; and by the eager expressions on their faces. This was the students’ first time to IMTS, and they were like children in a candy store—this was serious fun!

IMTS-TV even interviewed Professor Bowman and third-year student Greg Pratt about the VU/Haas partnership, and about VU’s participation in the show. Several students competed in friendly competitions, which took place in the various booths at the show, and some came away with prizes such as new iPods.

On Wednesday night, Haas sponsored a special activity for the entire team working the show, including the VU students and faculty. As the sun began to sink behind the skyscrapers on the Lake Michigan shoreline, everyone boarded the Kanan for a 2-hour cruise on the lake.

Professors Bowman and Bauer spent much of the show networking with current industrial partners and making new ones. Industrial partnerships truly are what make technical education successful. In addition to the partnership with Haas Automation, VU is also aligned with many other companies such as Mastercam, Sandvik, Kennametal, Charmilles, Erowa, Quality Mill, SGS, Niagara, LMT, Chick Workholding, Oxygen Education, Immersive Engineering, Cimcool and Shoptech.

In summary, from the moment the Advanced Manufacturing faculty and students stepped onto the charter bus to head to Chicago, it was truly an amazing adventure—a life-changing event. VU is grateful to the Lilly Foundation, to all of the great people at Haas Automation and to all of those who made this opportunity possible.

 

Selected Student Comments

 

“My first experience at IMTS was very inspiring for me to see how big the manufacturing world really is.”

“To compare what you know about machining technology against what is actually new in the industry creates a perspective that reveals the amount of knowledge a student can absorb in a lifetime of learning.”

“The experience of helping Haas at the IMTS booth was beneficial in so many ways. It gave us a new look at the world of machining and advanced manufacturing.”

“My time at IMTS was spent either running Haas machines or walking around the show in awe at the shear size of some of the machines and what they are capable of doing.”

“The experience opened my eyes to the large number of companies that are in the manufacturing business. From tooling to machines to software, all of it depends on the others. Also, I did not realize the amount of preparation and teardown that is involved in a show of this size.”

“Even on the days I was not scheduled to work, I was in the booth checking out the machines. I just couldn’t leave because I kept on learning more and more about the machines.”

“The experience of the show was great to see that the industry is still growing with a lot of good opportunity out there in the machining world.”

“The trade show really made me understand more about emerging technology while still respecting past technology.”

“I would like to thank HAAS for giving me and my classmates the opportunity to go and see IMTS.”