Metalex Inspires Youth to Seek Engineering Education by Changing the World
Where can an engineering education take you? Will it help you change the world? Here's one student's thoughts on the topic after visiting advanced manufacturing Metalex Manufacturing.
How could a small company like Metalex Manufacturing, centered in Blue Ash, Ohio, be changing the world? This is the question that I pondered in a recent visit to Metalex’s Center for Advanced Large Manufacturing, where I had the opportunity to see the manufacturing industry in action. As a high school student interested in engineering the future technologies that govern the way we live, I am a firm believer in being a change. Coming out of this visit, I can confidently say I have found my answer to Metalex’s role in changing the world. Metalex has recently contributed to the future of the human race in collaboration with the approaching Orion missions to Mars directed by NASA. Taking advantage of an opportunity to hear from speakers like Metalex CEO Werner Kummerle, Astronaut Brian Duffy and Ohio Senator Rob Portman has inspired me to delve deeper into the realms of aerospace engineering and metalworking, so that I can set myself up for a path to change the world.
A small company like Metalex wasn’t just given the opportunity to revolutionize space travel and construct pieces for the Orion SLS, set to transport humanity to Mars to begin a new period of human colonization by 2030. In order to be given such an opportunity, Metalex had to set itself apart from any other metalworking facilities. One step Mr. Kummerle took towards earning involvement in NASA’s Orion missions was the installation of a new Pietro Carnaghi metalworking machine, one of the three largest machines of its kind here in the United States (in fact, the machine required construction of a new 40,000 square-foot facility to house it). Metalex has also set high standards in the workplace with its approach to productivity evaluation, Interaction Without Boundaries (IWB). IWB is a unique system in which each employee is expected to create a log every day, evaluating his or her work ethic and productivity. This cooperative approach has given Metalex a powerful edge in the manufacturing sector and has allowed the company to be a successful contributor to the Orion space missions. I was lucky enough to attend the ceremony in which NASA recognized Metalex’s essential involvement in the missions to Mars.
In the duration of the awards presentation, many things stood out to me as a young student aspiring to being an engineer. Metalex’s commitment to the Mars missions has shown me the application of manufacturing in the real world; the Orion space missions have been a great way for the Metalex business approach to catch my eye. During the presentation, Ohio Senator Rob Portman said something that really stuck with me and related to my interest in environmental studies. “Without space we won’t be safe,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it than just shooting a rocket up.” I think Senator Portman has a really relevant point here: Space travel is humanity’s outlet to any mistakes it has made and will continue to make on Earth. Although it is not always recognized for its accomplishments, Metalex has helped and continues to help change the world with its commitment to the Orion missions. My own interest in sustainable practices of producing energy ties in with the Orion missions because no matter where humanity ends up, renewable energy will be the key to its safety.
As a student looking into engineering, hearing how manufacturing facilities are going to shape the future means a great deal to me. The visit to Metalex was a real eye-opener for me, as I now have a better understanding of how manufacturing can not only shape the world but can shape my own future as an engineer. Metalex’s facility is a prime example of where an education in engineering will take you.
Max Egan will be a junior at Turpin High School in Cincinnati, Ohio this fall, where he is involved in cross country, track, student council and choir. His favorite part about the internship has been the opportunity to explore the applications of manufacturing and engineering in the real world through field trips and research. When Max graduates and moves on to college, he hopes to use the skills he has learned over the summer to form the foundation for a major in mechanical or environmental engineering and delve deeper into the science of sustainability.
The maker of racing engine components produces parts that have many permutations within each product line. Here is how Jesel sets up work for cost-effective, responsive machining.
Classic lean manufacturing principles are practically taken as gospel, but benefits can be elusive for manufacturers that produce a variety of parts in low volumes. This shop took a different approach to lean—one aided by software that helped identify a more efficient machine layout based patterns in part routings.
The 5S principles are proving to be a powerful prelude and prerequisite to lean manufacturing at this aerospace job shop.