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That’s Knights with a K, as in Keene State College

Business Resource Specialist Chris Wellington, who covers western New Hampshire for the Division of Economic Development, is today’s guest blogger. Ed.

What happens when creative minds start thinking?

In the Monadnock region, Thursday nights get a makeover.

Keene State College is well-known for its liberal arts and teacher preparation programs, but over the past few years it has become a statewide leader for training the next generation of designers, manufacturers, engineers and machinists.

With the creation of the TDS Center in 2012 and the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing in 2010, Keene State College is on the front line of economic development in the manufacturing sector in New Hampshire. RCAM is a collaborative partnership between the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Keene State College, River Valley Community College, the Keene School District and the business community.

Team Thursday Knights

Team Thursday Knights

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Manufacturing Enterprise Capstone  presentation by 15 Keene State seniors.  The Manufacturing Enterprise Capstone is part of the Sustainable Product Design and Innovation major, which is a relatively new, four-year major at Keene State College, which was built on the foundation of the Manufacturing, Design and Technology Education majors that have been at Keene State for decades.

The new SPDI major incorporates a strong emphasis on sustainable design and how it impacts manufacturing and engineering. For the Manufacturing Enterprise capstone project, students are given $500 to come up with an enterprise where they must create, design and develop a product, then market and sell it to their target audience.

Nights Out Belt Buckle

This year’s class created the entity Thursday Knights Inc. and developed the Knights Out belt buckle.  It serves a dual role as a belt buckle and carrying case, which included a personalized engraved front and a money/credit card clip, for the low price of $20.  During the presentation, the students explained how they wanted to create a product that allowed students to leave their wallets and purses at home when they went out on ‘Thursday Knights.’

At the start of the semester, students took on a particular role, as they would within any local manufacturing company. Whether they were the materials manager, Lean coordinator, engineer, quality control manager or marketing manager, they had to work in unison with the team to produce the finished product, with the goal of earning a profit at the end of the semester.

“This program provides our students with hands on experience and places them in real world situations that showcase the rewards and challenges of working in the manufacturing industry,” said Professor Christopher Gray.

Aside from the enthusiasm the students expressed throughout the presentation, one of the best aspects of the program is the support and encouragement from the business community. Ray Anderson from Knappe & Koester donated $700 worth of aluminum; NE Metal Finishing provided low cost tumbling and finishing  services and additional support in the form of tooling came from True Tool Innovations and Vic Kissel from Maxcess International.

“Support from the business community is vital to the SPDI program and provides our students with valuable contacts once they graduate,” Gray said.

There is a myth in the US that manufacturing is a dying industry, but in western New Hampshire, advanced manufacturing is alive and thriving. Thanks to programs like SDPI, educators like Gray, the support of the business community and eager young students, manufacturing in New Hampshire has a very bright future.

To learn more about the SPDI program and opportunities to collaborate with RCAM and Keene State College please contact Chris Gray at 603-358-2951 or cgray@keene.edu

Chris Wellington

Business Resource Specialist

NH Division of Economic Development

 

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